There were a lot of defensive numbers in Monday night's Eagles loss to the Packers that bothered Jim Schwartz. Interestingly, the one that probably bothered him the least was the zero under the Eagles' sack total.
If you're counting, the Eagles, who had 20 sacks in their first six games, have just six in the last five games, four of which they've lost.
"There's a lot of ways to avoid sacks,'' the defensive coordinator said Thursday. "I'm sure offensive coordinators go in and say, 'Hey, this team can generate pressure; this team has made big plays sacking the quarterback and forcing turnovers.' So (preventing sacks) is going to be their objective.
"We have to keep points off the board. Our goal isn't to get sacks, even though sacks help us accomplish that. Our goal isn't to stop rushing yards or stop passing yards. It's to keep points off the board. And lately, we haven't done a good enough job of that.''
When you have an offense that hasn't scored more than 24 points since the third week of the season, keeping the other team off the scoreboard obviously is important. And Schwartz is right. His unit hasn't done a very good job of that the last couple of weeks. Gave up 27 points to the Packers and 26 the week before to the Seahawks. That won't cut it with The Little Offense That Can't.
What facilitated those 27 points for the Packers on Monday night was the defense's inability to get off the field on third down.
The Eagles have been a good third down defense this season. Went into the Green Bay game ranked third in the league on third down. But the Packers were the guest that wouldn't leave. They converted 10 of 14 third-down opportunities. Their 71.4 third-down success rate was the highest in the NFL this season and the highest against an Eagles defense since 1995. The Eagles had no answers for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing game.
"We've been a decent third-down team until last week,'' Schwartz said Thursday. "We've got to get back to doing that. We've got to play good situational football and get off the field.
"The big thing that's been missing the last couple of weeks has been the takeaways," Schwartz said. The Eagles have no takeaways in the last two games. They also haven't put opponents in extra-long-yardage situations, "behind the chains," as Schwartz referred to them, by sacking quarterbacks. Referring to the Packers, Schwartz said, "We couldn't get them off track. When we do that, things work good for us.''