Jim Schwartz on Eagles' Defense Against Dolphins: ‘We Cost Our Team That Win'

[CSNPhily] The surprising reality of the Eagles' defense
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Jim Schwartz doesn't do interviews postgame, so Wednesday was the first chance to ask him what the heck happened Sunday.

He answered for 15 1/2 minutes.

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"That game is 100 percent on the defense," Schwartz said. "We always feel if you give us 20 points we should win the game, and we certainly got more than 20. We didn't do our jobs in that game, and as a result we got a loss."

The Dolphins - averaging 14.2 points per game on offense - beat the Eagles 37-31, becoming the first team to score touchdowns on five straight drives against the Eagles in at least 50 years, or as far back as available records are available.

It was as embarrassing a display as there's ever been against a Jim Schwartz defense.

"That gave them life"

Schwartz said the pivotal point Sunday came with the Eagles up 10-0 late in the first quarter when the Dolphins turned a 4th-and-4 inside Eagles territory into a touchdown.

The way we started that game, interception on the first play, then two quick stops and sacking the quarterback and everything else, then all of a sudden they get a wildcat run for (28) yards, and then we get that 4th-down play, and I really think that was such a critical point in that game," he said. "That just gave them life. The quarterback threw a 50-50 ball up there and they made it, we didn't, and they scored a touchdown and that gave them life to get back into the game.

That was one of three 4th-down conversions for the Dolphins. Opposing teams are 7-for-11 converting on fourth down against the Eagles this year, the 4th-highest percentage in the league.

"Flipped the script on us"

Ryan Fitzpatrick spent a good chunk of the day Sunday chucking 50-50 balls up to DeVante Parker, who caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Schwartz said the Eagles have been very good on 50-50 balls this year … until now.

"We were making two out of three of those plays out of the previous five games," he said. "A 50-50 ball, a guy who's covered but the quarterback still throws it. And I counted 13 50-50 balls and we only won four of them. The formula that helped us keep scoring down and keep us in games flipped the script on us. … Some of those were man, some were zone, some were blitz, some weren't. We didn't make the plays."

"We cost our team that win"

Schwartz said he tried a lot of different looks and schemes to slow down the Dolphins. Obviously, none of them worked.

We had one series where I just said on the sideline, ‘Look, we're just going to be in basic defense just to settle down.' Training camp type stuff. Let's just get comfortable and go play. I think the quarterback went 6-for-6 and they scored a touchdown on that drive. So whether it was blitzing, whether it was playing zone or whether it was playing sort of bread-and-butter stuff, it wasn't our day. We've got to take ownership for it. We've got to take accountability for it. Because we cost our team that win.

Could have been a game changer 

Schwartz was asked why he didn't try to use third-year pro Rasul Douglas, the Eagles' tallest corner at 6-foot-2, to match up against the 6-3 Parker. Douglas didn't play a single snap on defense for the first time in a game he had dressed out for.

"Darby and Mills had made those plays," Schwartz said. "I think as a coach you have to give those guys a chance to get out of that and be able to make those. We're confident in our guys to make those plays, and I think we will. … We decided to just go with our strength, which has been our corners defending 1-on-1 on the outside of the field and playing tight coverage and playing penalty-free, and we didn't get that done in this game."

"I can't remember the last time"

Penalties killed the Eagles Sunday. They finished with 10 for 91 yards - both season highs. Six for 61 yards were on the defense, four for Miami first downs. Two others for 20 more yards were declined.

"The things that we had hung our hat on the previous month when we played good defense was playing clean football, penalty-free," Schwartz said. "Coming into that game we were sixth in the NFL in defensive fouls. So, had done a pretty good job there. I can't remember the last time we were offsides before that game. Hadn't given teams a lot of free chances. … We gave them second opportunities with fouls - three offsides, two DPIs and two roughing the quarterbacks."

"It doesn't matter what your record is"

Schwartz said he never saw his guys let up. He said effort wasn't the issue.

"Our guys battled," he said. "There are a lot of times in games that you look and you say, well, we let up at that point or the guys lose their spirit or whatever it was. I didn't see any of that in this game. A lot of times you can tell that by your tackling. There was really only one play in the game where we missed a tackle. The rest of the game I thought our guys were flying around, we were stuffing the run game pretty good, we were hitting the quarterback. We just didn't make the plays that we needed to."

"It could be just one play"

Schwartz said there were a bunch of times the Eagles were inches away from making a play that could have stopped the bleeding and restored momentum. But they weren't able to make any of those plays.

"When you're playing a game like that, a shootout type game, it could be just one play," he said. "Derek Barnett on that one 3rd-and-goal (late in the second quarter), he's an inch away from stripping the ball out of the quarterback's hand. Darby is an inch away from knocking two balls away and both of them are 4th-down plays, and maybe that game's completely different.

"Those are the margins that you have. It doesn't matter what your record is in the NFL, those are the margins you have to play with, and you've got to make your fair share of those.. … And after those first three series, we didn't make enough of them."

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