Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Tuesday that his players didn't lack effort against Cincinnati - they caused and recovered two fumbles, despite being down 29-0 - but he conceded they did lack "energy," and in some cases, confidence. He said his defense was "in a slump,' like a baseball hitter.
"Facts of life, our corners aren't playing very well right now," said Schwartz, who added that his defense was one of the best in the league for nine games, and has been among the worst in the league during the team's current three-game losing streak. 'That's life, man. That's what it is ... We're in a slump. We have to own that."
Schwartz strongly defended safety Rodney McLeod, who didn't seem to make any move to try to stop Bengals running back Jeremy Hill on a 2-yard first-quarter touchdown run. Schwartz said McLeod's fit or responsibility on the play was outside, and he was just caught flatfooted when the run went inside to Hill. "I'll put my name on Rodney McLeod any day," said Schwartz, who called McLeod "a warrior."
Schwartz was asked about Eagles coach Doug Pederson's admission Monday that "not everyone" gave great effort in Cincinnati.
"Anytime things aren't going well, you're looking at everything you can, whether it's schemes, whether it's individual effort, whether it's collective effort -- it's a tough situation," Schwartz said. "It's 29 to nothing in this game. Here's what I'd say about that, and I actually talked to the defense about that this morning: When it's all said and done, we have to take the most pride in our effort. And sometimes there might be a difference between effort and energy. It's hard to have energy when you're down 29 to nothing. It's not hard to have effort. And I think you saw us have effort" on such plays as the two fumbles the Eagles forced and recovered in the fourth quarter.
"You don't always play your best, but I'm encouraged by those kinds of things. I would agree we need to play with more energy."
But how about the effort and energy that went into falling behind 29-0?
"If you could just put a formula on that, anybody in sports ... you'd have a pretty good monopoly," Schwartz said. "There's human nature that goes into this game. We didn't start that game very well. We went three and out on offense, they got the ball at midfield (after a short Donnie Jones punt), we gave up a field goal, we had a chance to get an interception (when a pass bounced off Jaylen Watkins on the play before the field goal). Man, what a change that would have made."
"We need to play with more energy, whether it's at the beginning or at the end. That's the challenge every week."
After Schwartz spoke, offensive coordinator Frank Reich said losing might be wearing on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.