Doug Pederson confirmed Wednesday morning that defensive end Derek Barnett is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

That leaves the Eagles with Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and Josh Sweat as the healthy D-ends heading into Sunday’s London game against the Jacksonville Jag-wires. Bennett is already pulling defensive tackle duty on some obvious passing downs, so the entirety of the Eagles’ line looks to be a little stretched as the Birds head to Wembley Stadium.

Oh yeah, Wendell Smallwood didn’t practice today, so that’s another ridiculous thing to add to the list of misfortunes.

Notes from Doug’s presser:

  • team is “still okay” at defensive end, will likely get Josh Sweat more reps with Barnett out
  • good opportunity for Sweat, who is “explosive off the ball” and can be disruptive
  • RE: what teams are doing differently to defend against the Eagles’ RPO plays:

“A lot of teams, they’ve studied us and had time to kind of prepare. I think you go back to what Pittsburgh did to us in the pre-season. Teams play a little more zone, especially teams like last week with very aggressive, fast linebackers. (Jacksonville) is going to be the same type of defense. They’re very aggressive. They got a lot of speed at their linebacker position, so they can run. So dependent on what you do, whether you give the ball or throw the ball, a lot of times defenses are right there to make the tackle, so we’re not seeing the yards after catch like we did a year ago.”

  • Wentz is reading RPO plays just as well as he did last year – “It’s a split-second decision, so he’s making a decision based on a linebacker or a safety or somebody moving six inches. So it’s a split-second decision. With the team speed we’ve seen from our opponents in the last couple weeks, it sometimes negates the throw.”
  • cornerback Jalen Ramsey will typically match the top receiver and will be a big challenge for Alshon Jeffery this weekend
  • feels like he’s being just as aggressive this year as he was last year with play-calling
  • “no concern” with kicker Jake Elliott
  • feels like focus, practice, and preparation has been good this season
  • lots of respect for Doug Marrone, no awkwardness playing his team after being critical of him in his book (the fourth down decision against the Patriots in the Super Bowl)

I also didn’t get around to the Jim Schwartz and Mike Groh pressers yesterday afternoon, but Schwartz’s presser was particularly interesting.

Quotes after the jump:

Q. What went into the decision to have CB Dexter McDougle be the slot? (Jeff McLane) 

Schwartz: Dexter was with us last year and was our backup nickel, and with Sidney Jones being week-to-week, we thought it was best to plug-and-play one guy in there rather than layering and moving a lot of different guys in there, so that was probably the biggest thing.

Dex did a good job in coverage. I’d like to see his tackling a little bit cleaner. I think it’s probably a little bit to be accepted, a little bit of the cost of doing business when you get a guy that hasn’t played in the last month.

A little bit like those first preseason games, you’re always worried the most about tackling, I think that’s what we saw with Dex, but he went in, executed coverages well, got his guy covered. I’d just like to see him be able to make a couple of those tackles, and I don’t want to single Dex out there. Defensively, as a whole on those drives, we got a lot of yards after catch and some runs that went against us. We got to do a better job with that.

Q. Against the Giants, when CB Sidney Jones went out, you brought in CB Rasul Douglas at safety and CB Avonte Maddox at nickel and I was curious Rasul didn’t play at all on Sunday and I was just wondering what your reasoning for that was? (Martin Frank) 

Schwartz: Well, he’s really not a safety. He was a safety in that game because that was our emergency situation, and that’s the way we stacked it. That wasn’t ideal, either.

In-game, you’d rather just plug one player into a position and keep everybody else the same but we didn’t have any other nickels, so Avonte needed to go down there and Rasul went in at safety. Again, it wasn’t ideal, with a little bit of time we thought it was best just to plug-and-play Dexter who had been with us in the past and played a little bit of football for us.

Q. Do you see Douglas being pretty much an outside guy? (Martin Frank) 

Schwartz: Yeah, he’s an outside corner. I think his skill-set fits best as an outside corner. He can do some other things for us, but if you’re looking at trying to put him in the best position, I think it’s always been outside corner for him.

I think it’s pretty clear they don’t see much in Rasul right now. He’s not a slot guy. He’s not a safety. He’s not good enough to start over Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby. That’s basically what Schwartz is saying.

A quote regarding that topic:

Q. Is there any consideration to keeping CB Jalen Mills outside in base and then moving him inside in your nickel defense while putting Douglas outside in nickel? (Dave Zangaro) 

Schwartz: Again, maybe, and I don’t want to pigeon hole myself or back myself in a corner on any of those things, but I think Sidney Jones, him being week-to-week and us — if we were thinking that Sid was out for the year or something like that, maybe that would be in the mix because Jalen has done that before. I think Jalen plays better outside than he does inside, but he can play inside.

I liked where we were with Sid in there, and Darby and Jalen outside with Rasul being the next man up. We’re just not there right now with injuries, particularly with losing Rodney McLeod and then Avonte moving to safety.

Maybe next season you roll Sidney Jones on the outside, let Maddox play the slot, and draft another corner to compete with Darby and Mills.

Q. Did the coverage change in the fourth quarter with more off coverage? (Zach Berman) 

Schwartz: No, not really. I think probably the biggest change is blitz more in the fourth quarter than the first three quarters combined. Just in an effort to try to find some ways, and we were up 21 points. Started the series off with a blitz. They were going back and we had a couple successful plays on blitz and we also gave up a touchdown on blitz, the one that was down tight in the red zone. You single guys up. You get some of that.

Our mix stayed pretty much the same, other than that, the whole game. They just made a couple plays that we didn’t. It’s not unusual to see the ability to flick a switch that way. I go back, we have had games we started poorly, I think back to the Giants last year at New York and then we were able to get it settled down. It’s just the way it is.

Q. You said you thought you blitzed too much late. Besides the goal line one, which are the other ones you felt — (Jeff McLane)

Schwartz: No, I didn’t say I thought we blitzed too much. I just said we blitzed more in the fourth quarter than the first three quarters combined, it had nothing to do with —

Q. Blitzing is always a double-edged sword, obviously, but is it more so with a guy like Cam Newton because of his escape-ability? (Bob Ford)

Schwartz: That cost us on one play. When you bring — unless you bring six, or even seven, which is a very high-risk situation, because you’re zero coverage in the back end, unless you bring six, it’s hard to cover all the gaps. You’ve got six gaps, you’ve got to cover A, B and C gap and if you bring five, there’s going an open gap and the quarterback has the ability to scramble. The first drive of the third quarter he was able to scramble against the pressure. Later in the game we were rushing four and sort of spying him and it kept the scrambles out, but he was making plays with his arm, and again, tipping the hat to him for that.


Q. What did you make of the space the corners were giving their wide receivers in the fourth quarter? (Dave Uram) 

Schwartz: I don’t think it was any different than the whole game.

Gotta watch the game again to get a read on that. I don’t really feel like doing it. Maybe tomorrow?

I don’t think Mike Groh had anything groundbreaking to say yesterday. He repeated what Carson Wentz said about the throw into double coverage, the idea that they’d like to have that one back. He also said he thought Duce Staley was doing a good job of rotating the running backs. Corey Clement is “working himself back” from an injury and the team trusts Wendell Smallwood to carry the ball.

That’s about it for today.