Jim Schwartz Q&A: Missing Fletcher Cox, Kendricks' Frustration, Facing Fitzgerald

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz held his weekly media briefing Tuesday afternoon and addressed the defense's fourth-quarter breakdowns, the absence of all-pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks' frustration, facing future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald this weekend and much more.
Here are some highlights:
Q: You guys have allowed 52 fourth-quarter points, most in the NFL. How concerning is that and what do you see happening?
Jim Schwartz: "Yeah, we've been thinking on that. We were in the exact opposite position last year. Last year, we were struggling a little bit in the first half and second half we were pitching shutouts. I think there's a lot of layers to everything that goes on on the football field. Fifty-two points in any quarter is too many. Whether it's the first or the fourth, we've got to do a better job of keeping points off the board."
Q: Is it fatigue?
"No. I mean, there's other challenges that everybody has, but I certainly wouldn't place it on any kind of fatigue."
Q: Before Fletcher Cox got hurt, the defense was allowing fewer than 6.0 yards per play. With him out, that number has gone up to 7.5. How badly do you miss him?
"I'm glad that didn't happen before he signed his contract because he probably would have asked for more. We miss him, and we need to do a better job of playing as a unit when guys like that are not in there. We've had our challenges. Everybody has their challenges plugging guys in and still trying to have a high level. There's no explanations, no excuses. We have to do a better job of playing all around that position. Not just filling in for him just from a defensive tackle position, but everybody else doing their job well enough that those things don't make as big a difference as they did."
Q: Patrick Robinson really struggled early in camp but seems to have settled down since moving full-time into the slot. What have you seen from him?
"I think he's performed at a really high level. He's really taken that position over. He's limited his focus to that position. I think that's helped, also, and he's quietly done his job. I mean, sort of offensive tackles, maybe quiet is a good word. Corners, it can be a good one. Certainly don't want to be quiet when it comes to pass breakups or interceptions or things like that, but he's given us good, consistent play."
Q: You'll be facing Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday. What challenge does he still present?
"Yeah, another Hall-of-Fame quality player. It is not just about Larry Fitzgerald, though. They can put a 4-by-100 (relay) team together. They have got a lot of speed and a quarterback (Carson Palmer) that has - I know [Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians] has said he's playing at a level that he has not seen him play before. They have had their struggles here and there. But I think (Fitzgerald) is really playing good football and we have our work cut out for us. Again, it can't just be about Larry Fitzgerald and it can't be about one player. If you make it that way you're going to be susceptible to other things and we've got to do a better job of not being susceptible to other things."
Q: Derek Barnett hasn't had any sacks, but how's he playing overall?
"He's had his ups and downs as a lot of rookies have had, or sort of have in general. I thought he played an improved game against the Chargers, as opposed to the week before. He was a factor in the pass game. Made a great play on that draw. That's a hard play to defend and he made a play on the draw for a [minus-four-yard play]. He's had very few missed assignments. I don't want to give gold stars for that because that's what's expected of us, but I think that's also a good sign coming from a rookie that's getting significant playing time, particularly in some key situations."
Q: On one zone blitz he dropped back and was covering Keenan Allen. What does that say about him?
"We didn't draft him for coverage. We drafted him to rush the passer. Obviously, coverage is going to be a part of any blitz game, whether you're covering a running back or whether you're dropping into zone or doing those kinds of things. But it certainly showed his athletic ability and his speed."
Q: What have you seen from Vinny Curry?
"I think he's playing at an improved level over last year. A little bit like quarterbacks and touchdown passes. Defensive line gets judged by sacks a lot of times and it's just life in the business. We need to be more productive across the board. We started off good with a couple four-sack games, and it was going to be hard to sack Eli Manning. We could have rushed 12 and I don't know if we could have got him on some of those. That ball was coming out so fast. But that's the way that game plays, and you have to be good in other areas. Until the end - and we looked awful on the 35-yard touchdown run. We did a really good job stopping the run and Vinny had a lot to do with it. He's played very physical at the point of attack and has been physical in his pass rush and alive in his pass rush a lot more than in the past. I'm happy with the track he's on. We all need to be more productive."
Q: Mychal Kendricks is frustrated with his playing time. Any thoughts on that?
"I think we look at everything every week when it comes to it, and Mych has found a way to be productive. We can all be more productive. We are starting to use a few more personnel packages than we have in the past, and we'll just see the way it goes after that."
Q: Does Kendricks let his frustration show?
"He's been a pro. I've said this from the beginning of training camp: He's gone out and worked really hard and done anything we've asked him to do. Any conversations I have with the player I like to keep between the player and myself. I think from the very beginning of training camp, we talked about him coming into what he's going to be asked to do and then doing that well. I couldn't be prouder of him."
Q: How has Malcolm Jenkins been playing?
"I think Malcolm's play has sort of flown below the radar. He doesn't have interceptions or sacks and things like that but he's played consistent football. Early on, talking about some of our positions where we're striving to get consistency, you can scratch Malcolm off of that list. He's played very consistently and he's also had to handle a lot of different situations from losing his running mate at safety (Rodney McLeod) next to him, plugging another guy in, and plugging another guy in. There hasn't - he's taken a lot on himself to stay productive and I think he's playing at a higher level than I've ever seen him play, and that says an awful lot because he's been a good player in this league for a long time."

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