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November 12, 2018

Angelo Cataldi: The 2018 season is over for the Eagles and it's Jim Schwartz's fault

The Eagles’ defense disappeared in the second half on Sunday night, and with it went the 2018 season. 

There will be no playoff run this year, no Lombardi Trophy, no parade. This season after Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl victory is officially a disaster. And in the hours after a 27-20 loss to Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field, the focus of fan rage has turned to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who failed in spectacular fashion on national television with the season at stake. 

There are cries today for Schwartz to lose his job — and you will read no defense of him here. The sad truth is, it’s hard to imagine a more dramatic collapse by a more talented unit than the demolition of the defense on Sunday night. How could a group of players including stars like Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Graham evaporate like that into the cold November air? 

Yes, there were many other culprits in this unimaginable defeat. Coach Doug Pederson called a dreadful game offensively, especially in the first half. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw a devastating interception early in the game. New wide receiver Golden Tate did practically nothing in his Eagles’ debut. But make no mistake. The defense was the story on Sunday night. 

Against the 27th-ranked offense in the NFL, the Eagles forgot how to rush the passer, forgot how to cover the receivers and forgot how to tackle. They allowed the Cowboys to drive the length of the field after the two-minute warning in the first half, and then completely fell apart after that. 

The most frustrating part for fans is that the Birds’ offense managed to tie the game twice in the final 17 minutes of the game, only to fall back behind with nary any resistance by Schwartz and his army of underachievers. 

Choke no. 1: After the Eagles tied the game at 13 late in the third quarter, the Cowboys roared right back down the field on nine plays and 75 yards to regain the lead. They faced third down only twice in that drive, and easily converted both times.

Choke No. 2: After the Eagles answered with an efficient drive of their own, the revived Cowboys put together an even better drive, needing only eight plays to travel the 75 yards, and again making it to third down only twice. 

To the surprise of no one – except for Schwartz – Dallas used the best three weapons repeatedly on those game-defining drives: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and Cole Beasley. Schwartz’s brilliant strategy was to cover none of them, on pretty much every play. 

Meanwhile, there was no pass rush to speak of, and not a single play that lost yardage. Through it all, Schwartz rarely blitzed and offered nothing new or different to alter the Dallas attack. 

Even Pederson admitted this morning on my WIP radio show that he was perplexed by how easily the Cowboys drove down the field late in the game. As usual, Jim Schwartz had nothing to say. He only speaks on Tuesdays. This left his many dissenters to do all of the talking. 

“When I watch Jim Schwartz call defenses, he’s very passive,” said former Eagle linebacker Seth Joyner on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “The fact that he’s a passive defensive coordinator is one of the reasons why this team is in dire straits.” 

“The Eagles should call Jim Schwartz into the office this morning and tell him to leave,” said one of my callers. “He stinks.” 

The best guess here is that Schwartz will offer no resistance this Tuesday, either. When it comes to defending himself – or anything else, for that matter – Schwartz prefers a passive approach. In fact, more than any other reason, that’s why the 2018 season is over for the Eagles.