Schwartz Wags His Finger at Those Who Want to Replace Jalen Mills
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you're looking for changes in the embattled Eagles secondary don't start with Jalen Mills.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz defended the struggling third-year cornerback on Tuesday and confirmed the LSU product would remain a starter outside the numbers.
"I’m firmly behind Jalen Mills as a corner," Schwartz said. "One of the reasons we had a big parade on Broad Street was Jalen Mills."
Schwartz acknowledged the issues, however, saying while the Eagles are one play away from being a 3-1 team but they are also two plays away from being a 0-4 group and Mills, like a lot of players on defense not named Fletcher Cox or Brandon Graham, have performed "suspiciously like 2-2 players."
"He’s played a lot like a 2-2 corner, we’ve played a lot like a 2-2 defense, we’ve played a lot like a 2-2 team right now," Schwartz acknowledged. "There’s been inconsistencies all around, but it’s our job to help [Mills] through that. It’s his job to get out of that."
Schwartz has long been a supporter of Mills, who was thrown into the fire as a rookie seventh-round pick in 2016 before developing into a Pro Bowl alternate en route to the Eagles' Super Bowl LII win last season.
When pressed what he meant by "helping" Mills, Schwartz scoffed at the idea his finger-wagging CB might be having a crisis of confidence.
“Do you know Jalen?” Schwartz quipped. “Confidence, we don’t have to worry about that. But I do think there’s a combination of scheme, technique, other things that go into that. That’s part of the position coach’s job, that’s part of the defensive coordinator’s job. Our guys play with a lot of confidence, we don’t have to worry about that with them. We just need to be more consistent.”
The better path toward consistency, according to Schwartz, is staying away from moving parts as much as possible.
And for now, that means Mills stays at left cornerback.
"I’m firmly behind Jalen Mills," Schwartz said. "That guy has played a lot of good football for us and he epitomizes a lot of things we’re about defensively, toughness and competitiveness and ability to bounce back. And I’m confident he will."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen