Q. I know that interceptions are a product of a lot of different parts of the defense doing their job well, starting with the pass rush, getting pressure, which they’ve mostly done this season. But the team only has three interceptions; the corners don’t have any. What would you attribute the lack of interceptions to? (Jimmy Kempski)
JIM SCHWARTZ: I mean, they’re layered a lot of different ways. They’re layered when quarterbacks are taking chances maybe late in the game to catch up or they have to convert a third down and 13 and put it in pressure.
So there is a lot of different ways. Hitting the quarterback means an awful lot to turnovers. Either the guy throws a little bit too quick or he is getting hit when he throws. Some of it just turns into great plays by corners and stuff like that.
I think you can also get in some bad situations when you guess and try to chase those things. You got to let them come to you, which was one of the things that was disappointing about this game.
I thought the one chance that we really had to get one was when we had them backed up. [Packers QB Aaron] Rodgers didn’t make very many mistakes in that game. The one — he aired one out and we had overlap in zone coverage and didn’t make the play.
But that’s a chance to be able to get that ball, and I thought that could have been a game-changing play. We need to make plays like that.
Q. When a season is going like this there is obviously a lot of mounting pressure. A lot of that falls on the head coach. Wondering what you have seen from head coach Doug Pederson in recent weeks and is there anything you try to do to help him navigate these waters? (Dave Zangaro)
JIM SCHWARTZ: All experience helps. I think the whole staff has Doug’s back and we know what he’s going through. We feel the pressure on ourselves to go do our jobs better to take some of the heat off him.
I think that that’s what a good staff does. Doug has had our back in the past; we have his back. I think it all works together that way. I think everybody just needs to be more efficient at their job. Everybody needs to recognize their part in it.
Like I said, this last game I thought there were opportunities for us to make. We got back in the game, started making some plays, getting some stops, and had a chance maybe to get the ball back one more time and didn’t do it.
We had a good run, stop, and blitz going, and we gave up a 70-yard touchdown run. We can do our part better to help out the offense, to help out the head coach, to help out the team.
Q. You mentioned the long run. You’ve given up eight 30-yard-plus runs this year. That one in particular, can you walk us through what went wrong, why they were able to pull it off? (Paul Domowitch)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, you know, me, I don’t like to go through details of stuff like that. I’ll just say this: Our defense in that situation is one of our best run-stopping blitzes that we have. It’s been tried and true over the last five years, and it broke down at a number of levels, basically just missing tackles.
We had them in a situation where we felt like they were going to run the ball. Had that dialed up, and even if we miss tackles in there, we still got to get that thing down for ten yards. It can’t turn into a touchdown.
We broke down at a lot of different levels. That was probably as disappointing — the backed-up play which I already mentioned, that felt like, okay, look, if they take a shot here, we’re in a good defense for that. We weren’t able to make that play. We were a step slow on that one.
But this one, that run play, was very disappointing.
Q. We talked a little bit about CB Darius Slay last week having to deal with Seahawks WR DK Metcalf, and now it was Packers WR Davante Adams who is playing at such a high level. What do you think he gave you before he left with the knee injury. And also, CB Michael Jacquet. That’s a difficult spot for him to come in. How do you think he handled it? (John McMullen)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, we lost the game. I think that’s the way we all look at ourselves in a game. There is no individual accomplishment when the team loses.
I was very appreciative of Slay. He wasn’t 100% coming into the game; went out and played. Probably the biggest thing, the play — I mean, he gave up his last completion, I saw him limping on that play and I was trying to get Jacquet in there for him and trying to get Slay to go down and just like, ‘Look, you’re hurt. Let the officials take you out of the game.’
He has so much pride as a player that he didn’t want to do that. Then we gave up that completion and then we were able to get him in and sort of switched [CB] Avonte [Maddox] to shadowing Davante and MJ [Michael Jacquet] came in and played tough. Made a couple tackles and stuff like that.
We were able to sort of execute — we didn’t play our best football at the corner position. We left a lot of plays on the field and stuff like that. Like I said, I was very appreciative of Slay going out there when he wasn’t 100% and doing that.
When we were off, they were making plays in front; when we were up, they were making plays behind us. Late in the game, Avonte made a really good play down — they tried to put the ball in the end zone, it was 17 [Davante Adams], he made a really good play on that.
But we didn’t make enough of those over the course of the game, and it had a lot to do with what the final score was.
Q. At linebacker there is a possibly you won’t have T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor and, obviously Nate Gerry is on IR. What’s the situation there and how are you looking at the game against the Saints with what you have? (Martin Frank)
JIM SCHWARTZ: It’s no different than any week over the season. You sort of have an idea what you’ll have going into a Friday practice, and maybe you get guys back later in the week; maybe you don’t. You have to plan accordingly. It’s nothing we haven’t been through before.
Puts a little bit more on the guys that are healthy that can get out there. It also, just the way it goes with linebackers, those linebackers are always on all the special teams plays, and when you do get some injuries, like in this game we had a couple injuries in the game, it put more responsibility on guys that had to go cover kicks and play every snap on defense.
That’s life in the big city. That’s what happens. But it’s nothing we haven’t been through before. We’ll have a good plan and confidence in the guys that we have when we get to Sunday, and we’ll just see where that takes us this week.
Other than Davion who looks like he’ll miss some time, we’ll see everybody else and see if they’re able to contribute and see if it make sense to get them in the game and where their health is later in the week.
Q. What did former Eagles S and current Saints S Malcolm Jenkins mean to you in your four years together, and previously did you ever have anyone that was that versatile in that position? (Jeff McLane)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, versatility was amazing with Malcolm. He played seven different positions in defense here and he knew all 11. He knew all 11 like a coach. He was a great set of eyes on the field for me. Incredibly honest player. Always did his job.
I mean, he was so efficient at doing his job, if he made a mistake it was like once a year. I mean, other players will make a couple mistakes a game. Very, very rarely — like if he did it was like news flash that he had a missed assignment or wasn’t in the right spot.
He was just that player that always did the right thing. He was really good at weathering any storm. Always remained calm. He knew when to turn it up and when to give his fellow teammates confidence.
I’ve thought about a lot over the years of all the great players I’ve coached, and Malcolm goes right up there. He’s probably the smartest player I ever coached, and leadership-wise you take all those players, if he was on that he would probably be elected team captain.
I can’t have any more praise. I get in trouble for praising players. I mean, that guy certainly meant a lot to me personally, to our defense, and our team. He doesn’t play for us anymore. I root like crazy for him 15 games a year, but not going to be rooting for him on Sunday. We’ll try our best to go after him and he’ll try his best to go after us, and that’s the way the NFL is.
But I would say this: I don’t think I’ve ever been around a smarter player. About the only time I’ve ever had in my career — we were playing Seattle last year — he heard the offensive line say something about a look that we had, and it’s the only time I remember him doing this in four years. He came to the sideline and said, ‘Schwartz, next third down call this. I guarantee we’re going to get a sack.’
I had so much trust in him that next third down I called it, and it happened exactly the way that he said, and we got the sack. But it was all just because of what he heard. He heard the offensive line talking about, ‘Hey, next time we get this look this is what we have to do.’ That is rare in a player. That’s rare that a player, No. 1, can understand what the offense is doing so well and can decipher things like that.
Anyway, I’ve probably gone on too long here. I think a player of that stature and career and what he meant to us here deserves that kind of respect. Like I said, not going to be rooting for him on Sunday, but the rest of the time you always root for a guy like Malcolm Jenkins.
Q. Getting back to Darius Slay, I recognize he was dealing with the injury and these are tough matchups, but you essentially changed your coverages this season because of Slay’s skillset. In these matchups, do you expect more of him against these top receivers? (Zach Berman)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, every game is a different basis. Sometimes we give him help and sometimes we don’t. We just expect him to execute what’s called. It’s not all about him. It’s not nothing about him. It’s somewhere in between.
And on a different basis I do like his competitiveness and his ability to match up against players. One-on-one defense is hard to do in the NFL, particularly with some of the marquee wide receivers, marquee quarterbacks, and stuff like that. Sometimes holding your own is a win when there is a lot of spotlight on you and stuff like that.
I think that he’d probably be the first person to say that he hasn’t played his best football these last two games, but that’s not going to change the way we handle him. That is not going to change the plan for him.
Like any other player, we just got to get out of that and get him winning those matchups. I have every confidence that he will. He’s a veteran player. He has a long track record. You can’t show me a corner in the NFL that hasn’t had a bad game or two regardless of what their level is.
We have a lot of confidence that he’ll get back and do a lot of the good things for our defense.
Q. Given the lack of pre-season, do you think you’ve been more hesitant to play rookies than in recent years because they’re sort of an unknown, and what have you learned about those guys that you didn’t know much about not having seen them in the pre-season? (Bo Wulf)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Probably early in the season I would say that might be accurate. There is just so much uncertainty. We did have a couple live periods in practice, but a lot of those periods weren’t what I would say like rookies against No. 1, your first team. They weren’t getting those reps. So, you were seeing against their own sort of group and stuff like that.
It’s hard to simulate the pressure of a game. Things in practice are different than a game, no matter how much you try to do a live scrimmage or put them in situations. So, I would say probably early in the season, but now they have a lot of practice time under their belt. A lot of those guys have gotten some playing time here and there, whether it’s been due to injury or a feature of a game plan or stuff like that.
There is no curve anymore. If you’re on the field, you’re expected to perform and expected to do your job. At this point in the season I don’t think there are rookies anymore. I always said after about the first quarter of the season there weren’t rookies anymore. This year probably extend it to about half the season. I mean, it just was what it was with virtual learning and no pre-season games and no off-season.
But at this point of the game, this point of the season, there is no excuses. If you’re on the field, you’re expected to perform, expected to do your job. No curve just because you’re a rookie.
Q. Obviously it’s Aaron Rodgers and every defense has trouble. Didn’t seem like you got any kind of consistent pressure on him. So markedly different from the Seattle game in that regard. Were they doing anything special, max protecting, or did guys just not win their one-on-one battles? (Les Bowen)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, combination of a lot of different things. They did protect up at times. He’s a very difficult quarterback to blitz. I mean, that’s just long track record. If you look at his percentages against blitz and stuff like that, it’s hard to do.
I think there were a couple times — I mean, I thought there were times we did have good pressure, but I think what really stood out probably to you and to anybody else that watched the game were the times that he — that we weren’t and he was able to hold the ball for three seconds, he was able to find guys breaking open down the field.
A lot of times our coverage took care of the initial route that he wanted, and then he was able to extend the play and then find the tight end for a whatever it was, 30-yard touchdown pass.
I think we could do a better job of plastering the coverage and then buy more time for our pass rush; and then other times the pass rush can keep him, if he doesn’t have his first look, he’s got to throw incomplete.
I thought as we started making some stops later in the game you started seeing some of those. He tried to extend and make some throws down the field, and our guys did a good job battling those. Jay Mill [S Jalen Mills] had a really good one on the third down. Was able to get us a stop, get the ball back for our offense.
Never one thing. It’s a combination of a lot. But it was glaring the times that he was able to either have time or be able to create time and then we broke down in coverage.
If either we rushed better or we cover better in those situations, you don’t see that. It was combination of both of those.