Eagles-Ravens, Day After: Players Second-Guess Jim Schwartz

Jalen Mills didn't like the play call on Baltimore's late second-quarter score.

Steve Smith, Jaylen Watkins and Jalen Mills. (USA Today Sports)

Steve Smith, Jaylen Watkins and Jalen Mills. (USA Today Sports)

BALTIMORE — After the Eagles’ offense orchestrated a 17-play drive lasting nearly eight minutes that culminated in a field goal, it appeared they would do something they accomplished only once in their previous four games: head into halftime with the lead. Caleb Sturgis’ 34-yard kick gave Philadelphia a 14-13 edge with just 1:39 left in the second quarter, but then the defense allowed a quick, game-changing touchdown that shifted the momentum back to Baltimore’s side.

The Ravens went 65 yards in eight plays, including Joe Flacco’s 34-yard touchdown toss to Steve Smith with nine seconds remaining in the first half.

“We were being very aggressive on that play. We were trying to push them back to an even longer field goal, but he got behind us and scored. It was a tough play for us,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “If there’s one place that we can improve, it’s definitely big plays.

“One of the things that comes with big plays is we play an aggressive style of defense. It’s just limit the ones you do give up and find a way to get them on the ground to fight another day.”

After the Eagles’ performance in their 27-26 loss to the Ravens, they’ve now allowed the second-most passing plays of at least 40 yards in the NFL (13). They are also tied for third for the number of passing plays given up of at least 20 yards (52), both of which outpace last year’s marks.

But what made this big play unique wasn’t the result, it was the players second-guessing Jim Schwartz after the game.

“I was locking dudes down out there until that one play. Was it a call that I wanted to be in? No,” Jalen Mills said. “But regardless, plays have to be made out there in games like this.”

“We actually don’t run that coverage much, so I think that’s where guys are a little thrown of and played bad technique,” Rodney McLeod added. “We wanted to funnel everything inside knowing they didn’t have any timeouts. Schwartz didn’t want them to get a field goal, knowing they didn’t have any timeouts. It was a tough call. Obviously, if we hold them to three [points] right there, it helps us in the end.”

According to McLeod, the Eagles were playing a cover-2 defense with the corners maintaining outside leverage. However, Smith sped past Mills and Jaylen Watkins didn’t get over the top in time.

Prior to that play, however, Mills also took issue with a pass interference penalty called on him on third down earlier in the drive. Six plays before the touchdown, Flacco targeted Breshad Perriman on third-and-4 from Baltimore’s 41-yard-line.

“It’s an offensive league,” Mills said. “He runs a slant; I smash him down. They say you can put your hand on his hip as long as you don’t turn him. As far as when I looked up on the instant replay, I didn’t turn him at all.

“It’s frustrating. We’re out there competing. … We’re elite guys, best of the best. I feel like sometimes you have to let us play on some of those calls.”

McLeod, who found himself under fire a couple of weeks ago for not challenging Bengals running back Jeremy Hill at the goal line before Hill scored a touchdown, was again the subject of scrutiny in Baltimore. About four minutes into the fourth quarter, Kenneth Dixon ran for a 16-yard touchdown, which gave the Ravens their final points of the game and a lead they would not relinquish.

After Brandon Graham was sucked inside on the toss play, McLeod appeared to have a chance to bring Dixon down, but the Baltimore running back reached the end zone.

“We were in Cover-3. It was a scheme play, and it’s been kind of working against us,” McLeod said. “The Redskins scored on a play like that. The Ravens ran it at the right moment. I felt like I had more space. Obviously, I didn’t want him to end up in the end zone. If I could change, I would attack a little more and take my shot maybe a little sooner than what I did.

“It’s a play I’ve made 1,000 times. I feel like it’s all tempo and you just judge it off the runner. I felt like he had a chance to cutback and he didn’t and obviously he ended up scoring.”







Doug Pederson defends his two-point decision:

“If we had a chance to win it, we were going to go for it and win it. I wanted to win the football game, and even our chances in overtime were less than 50 percent winning this game. As an underdog going into the game, we were going to win the game in regulation. … The play-call, the play design, everything was built for that situation. And credit them, they got a hand up and tipped the ball.”

—With the Eagles’ quick turnaround as they prepare to host the Giants on a short week, some players —including Zach Ertz — think the NFL should change Thursday Night Football:

“You eliminate a preseason game and you add a little mini bye for Thursday games. If they want these Thursday games, I think it’s the best way to approach it. Add a little 10-day bye in between a Sunday and a Thursday game and then another 10 days after that. If they want to play Thursday games, that’s obviously tough.”

Ryan Mathews on not being in the game when the Eagles went for the final two-point conversion after having his best game in years:

“We have certain packages that we do. So, when my number is called, I try to make plays. I have faith in my teammates. Everybody wants to play, but I have faith in my teammates.”

Jordan Hicks on his fourth-quarter interception:

“I felt [Joe] Flacco staring down the No. 1 receiver. They ran a double post. I slid up underneath the No. 2 receiver, and, as soon as he threw it, he threw it right to me. So, he didn’t see me. For an instant, I thought I was going to the house, but then I felt two offensive linemen and Flacco on me. So, I don’t know if I gave them enough juke moves or whatever. But I was happy to get the ball back from them. And we were able to go down and get three off of that.”

Nigel Bradham on his forced fumble:

“Great play-call by coach [Jim] Schwartz. He put me in a position to get me one-on-one on the back and gave me the opportunity to make a play, and I was able to do it.”

Nelson Agholor on not converting the fourth down in the fourth quarter when he ran the ball:

“It’s unfortunate, the ruling. I gave tremendous effort to try to finish that play. I wanted to get a first down. Coach called that play, and the way that it ended, the result was the result. I’ll compete every time for that first down when my number is called, but what happened, happened. Got to learn from it.”



Player# of snaps% of snaps
Brandon Brooks87100%
Jason Kelce87100%
Jason Peters87100%
Isaac Seumalo87100%
Carson Wentz87100%
Stefen Wisniewski87100%
Nelson Agholor8598%
Zach Ertz8193%
Jordan Matthews7687%
Dorial Green-Beckham5361%
Byron Marshall3945%
Ryan Mathews3641%
Brent Celek2630%
Trey Burton2225%
Kenjon Barner1214%
Dillon Gordon22%
Bryce Treggs22%
Josh Andrews11%

*For the first time this season, the Eagles used all seven of their active offensive linemen on a single play. Doug Pederson sent in Josh Andrews at tight end and Dillon Gordon at fullback, but Ryan Mathews lost two yards. Isaac Seumalo and Matt Tobin have previously been used in similar roles this year, but Seumalo had to play right tackle with Allen Barbre (hamstring) out while Tobin (knee) is on the injured reserve list.

*Nelson Agholor (98 percent) played a season-high 87 snaps, the most among Eagles receivers, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that by looking at the box score. He caught just one pass for nine yards, although Wentz’s receivers didn’t play very well as a whole. Jordan Matthews (87 percent) led the Eagles’ wideouts with six catches for 27 yards, while Dorial Green-Beckham (61 percent) added one reception for 11 yards. Bryce Treggs (2 percent) wasn’t targeted, but he did rush the ball once for four yards and a first down.

*After Kenjon Barner (14 percent) exited the game in the middle of the second quarter with a hamstring injury, Byron Marshall (45 percent) played 39 snaps in his first NFL game as the only alternative to Mathews (41 percent). Marshall’s stats (nine carries for 22 yards) aren’t great and he tried to do too much early on, but once he got settled, he showed his elusiveness by picking up 12 and 10 yards on back-to-back carries in the fourth quarter. Mathews played less than Marshall, but he made a huge impact as he had his best day as an Eagle (20 rushes for 128 yards and one touchdown).


Player# of snaps% of snaps
Jordan Hicks58100%
Malcolm Jenkins58100%
Rodney McLeod58100%
Nigel Bradham5798%
Nolan Carroll4883%
Fletcher Cox4679%
Brandon Graham4374%
Jaylen Watkins3866%
Bennie Logan3764%
Jalen Mills3459%
Leodis McKelvin3459%
Connor Barwin3357%
Vinny Curry2848%
Beau Allen2238%
Mychal Kendricks2034%
Marcus Smith1526%
Destiny Vaeao916%

*As Leodis McKelvin (59 percent) and Jalen Mills (59 percent) continued to rotate, Nolan Carroll played the most snaps among Eagles cornerbacks (83 percent). Jim Schwartz also decided to use Malcolm Jenkins (100 percent) mostly in the slot once again, so Jaylen Watkins (66 percent) played a lot.

*Connor Barwin (57 percent) still played a majority of the snaps, but he only played five more snaps than Vinny Curry (48 percent). While Brandon Graham (74 percent) had a good game with five pressures, including a sack (per Pro Football Focus), Barwin didn’t record a single pressure in 18 pass rushes. Barwin now only has three pressures in the last six games combined.