It was a pretty innocuous question about second-year corner Eric Rowe.
The question from a reporter about Rowe, who was a starter at the end of 2015 and now finds himself buried on the depth chart, was hurled in the direction of Jim Schwartz after Thursday’s practice.
At first, the defensive coordinator talked about Rowe, about how he’s changing schemes and is only in his second year, but about halfway through his answer, the tone changed.
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Schwartz noted that the team is already over a week into training camp.
“We've got to start putting those inconsistencies behind us, and I'm not just talking about Eric, I'm talking about every guy on defense,” Schwartz said. “You saw what happened today. We'd make a play, give up a play. Make a play, give up a play. That's not a way to play defense; that’s not a way to play football.
"We've got to be consistent and that's our challenge. Our challenge is ironing that out, not just individually with guys like Eric or any of the other corners, but as a unit, we have to be more consistent. And that goes for everybody.”
Many fans are counting on Schwartz to turn around a defensive unit that finished 30th in overall defense a year ago. If the Eagles’ defense has any chance of turning things around, consistency will be key.
Remember, in the first nine games of 2015, the defense was giving up an average of 358.1 yards and 20.4 points per game. Not great, but not nearly as bad as things got either. In the final seven games of the season, the unit gave up 457.6 yards and 35.1 points per game.
During this training camp, at times, Schwartz has really gotten after some of his defensive players, yelling and screaming as loud possible (see Day 10 observations).
He wants his players to be consistent.
He wants his players to correct their mistakes.
“I mean, you want to teach, and sometimes guys learn best from mistakes,” he said. “You know what I mean? Sometimes when you make a mistake, it's engrained a little bit and you vow not to make the same one again. So, that's part of training camp. Part of training camp is going out and having some trial by fire and learning from your mistakes and things like that.
“What I'm really talking about is repeat mistakes. Everybody's going to make a mistake. I make a lot, players make a lot. The key is don't make the same one twice. Learn from your mistake. That's where our challenge is, and we're probably like 31 other teams in the NFL this time in training camp. Everybody's striving for the same thing — to be consistent from front to back, to have everybody on the same page, and then that allows the guys' talent to show.”