Schwartz Needs to Prop Up Corners with Help Not Praise
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The New York Giants didn't have much on Monday night but they turned what they did have into some headaches for the Eagles.
Of the 255 offensive yards New York accumulated on the rain-drenched Lincoln Financial Field turf, 132 came directly from rookie receiver Darius Slayton torturing Ronald Darby on the outside, including two touchdowns, a 35-yarder stemming from a broken tackle and a 55-yard bomb down the left sideline.
Typically Jim Schwartz isn't fond of compliments. The gruff veteran coach often says he's not in the business of giving out gold stars he's also not about to throw any of his players under the bus either and he had Darby's back during his weekly press conference on Wednesday.
“That first touchdown is 100 percent on me,” Schwartz claimed. "We had a third-and-13, I’m trying to keep [the Giants] out of field-goal range there. It looks like it’s going to be a low-scoring game, we have some weather situations coming in and maybe points are going to be at a premium. I don’t want to let them get five yards or seven yards to get into field-goal range."
For Schwartz, the second-guessing didn't focus on Darby missing the tackle it was about placing too much importance on three points early in the second quarter.
“Generally, I don’t really care too much about field goals," Schwartz said as he explained his thinking. "But if we’re in zone defense there and we have more guys at [the receiver], they make a 10-yard gain and kick a field goal, and all of a sudden we lose by three, you’re sitting there saying ‘Man, we should have been more aggressive to try to get them out of field-goal range in that situation,'"
Darby is just the latest Eagles cornerback to get beat in man coverage far too often this season. The names tend to change but the same thing has happened to Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and even Jalen Mills but as the highest-profile of the Eagles' CBs with arguably the top pedigree, Darby has been the biggest underachiever.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Darby has been among the worst corners in the NFL this season garding out at No. 114 of the 119 who have sample sizes larger enough to be rated.
Schwartz sees things a little differently, however.
"I did like the way he bounced back from that first half, when you talk about consistency, it's not just in your play, but in your mindset," the DC explained. "He went out and made some big plays for us in the second half and we needed it. We lost J-Mill in that game and lost Rasul on a play later. I don't know that we could have won it if Darby didn't bounce back in that second half."
The key moving forward might not be praise or even deflection. It's not sexy but more zone coverage rather than Sachwartz's preferred single-high looks has to be more consistent.
"[The Giants game] was really predicated more on the field conditions and weather conditions and stuff like that," Schwartz explained. "We were playing some man early in the game and lost our footing a couple times and just didn't want to be isolated one-on-one so much. So we went to a little bit more zone starting in probably about the middle of the second quarter.
"All that stuff goes into it."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen