Eagles' Schwartz looking for a 'boost' for pass rush
Jim Schwartz tried a couple of different things Sunday to try to add a spark to an Eagles defense that hasn't been getting pressure on the quarterback and hasn't been getting off the field on third down.
He activated five defensive ends (six if you include special-teams ace Bryan Braman) for the first time in a month, dressing Steven Means along with Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry and Marcus Smith.
And he blitzed more. A lot more. The Eagles blitzed on 13 of 23 pass plays in their 27-22 loss to the Redskins.
"We're going to try to find every way we can to affect that game,'' the Eagles' defensive coordinator said. "We thought Steven Means could give us a boost. We made a commitment to get him some reps.
"He plays with toughness. He made a couple of plays in the run game in his limited role. Going forward, we'll look at that every week.''
Means played 11 of 48 defensive snaps against the Redskins, the fewest of the Eagles' five d-linemen.
Veteran Connor Barwin played 25 snaps, or 52 percent, his smallest playing percentage of the season. Barwin has just four sacks and 10 hurries this season.
Barwin "has sort of gone the way the defense has,'' Schwartz said. "I wouldn't say he's struggling. But it's hard to feel good about your production (as a team) when you're not getting any sacks, and it's hard to feel good about your production when you're not getting the job done on third down.
"Connor's been a consistent player for a long time in the NFL. I do think that the fresher we can keep him, the better chance he has to be productive. Hopefully, this (playing fewer snaps) can help him.''
The Eagles were very effective blitzing Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns overall, but was just 5 for 11 for 45 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a sack when they sent extra rushers.
The Eagles sent five after Cousins on his 15-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon. They rushed four on his 80-yard scoring heave to DeSean Jackson.
"I thought our pressure was more effective,'' Schwartz said. "Was it good enough to win the game? No.''