This past Sunday was ugly. There is no getting around that and no explaining it away.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz didn’t try to.
“Make no bones about where I'm pointing the finger on this one,” Schwartz said, “because it's my job to put them in those better positions.”
Schwartz is correct — he was out coached by Rams head coach Sean McVay on Sunday.
He is also correct that, through two weeks, the Eagles’ defense is not playing up to the standard they set over the last four seasons.
“Things that we typically have been very good at over the last four years, we're not very good at right now,” Schwartz said. “Over the last four years, we're the number one run defense in the NFL. We're not playing like that right now. I think we're number two red zone defense in the NFL over the last four years. Not right now. We're like the number three third down defense in the NFL over those years. Not right now. We're top 10 in takeaways. Not right now. Top 10 in points allowed. We're bleeding points.”
What is also true, however, is that the kind of showing put on by his defense on Sunday have been few-and-far between since he became the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.
In fact, while watching the Eagles’ defense get sliced-up is never pretty, there is a strong argument to be made that that since 2016 — and over the last two seasons especially — that Schwartz has had more to do with the Eagles’ wins than the coaches and players on the offensive side of the ball.
Let’s take a deep dive into how the Eagles have won games.
By his own definition, and it is a good one, Schwartz has some pretty clear cut-offs for how he views a good showing by his defense.
“That sort of is my delineation of NFL and then a poor game. You give up 30 points, I don't think you can point to anything that you did well,” Schwartz said. “I always feel like if we can keep it under 20, we've really done a good job. 20 to 30, it falls into the NFL.”
Since 2016, including the playoffs, here is how Schwartz’s unit has done trying to meet his goal of 20-or-fewer points, and the Eagles’ record in those games:
30 games under 20: 28-2
31 games between 21 and 29: 11-20:
9 games over: 3-6
As you can see, the Eagles dominate when the defense has a good showing. They are basically unbeatable when the defense gives up 20-points or fewer.
Where the Eagles start to struggle is when the offense has to score and win a shoot out.
For a franchise that is built on offense, an 11-20 record when they have to score more than 20 points is unacceptable. The Eagles have an offensive head coach in Doug Pederson, a quarterback in Carson Wentz they are paying franchise money to, and an owner in Jeffrey Lurie that believes in winning with the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles should be capable of winning shoot outs.
Instead, they have a combined record of 14-26 when they have to score more than 21 points to win. If you take away the time Nick Foles spent at quarterback, this is how Pederson and Wentz have done when Schwartz’s defense is struggling:
Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz:
24 games under 20: 22-2
27 games between 21 and 29: 9 -18
7 games over 30: 1-6
That is alarming. Pederson and Wentz have not shown they can win shoot outs, and really haven’t shown they can consistently win even relatively high-scoring games.
Schwartz and his defense will have their off weeks. In a league designed for the offense to succeed, those games are going to happen.
The Eagles, however, are built to win on offense. Not defense.
Something important to remember as blame for what is turning into a disappointing season is divvied up.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!