SCHWARTZ TALKS ABOUT THE MEGATRON-METCALF SAGA, AND THE CHALLENGE OF AARON ROGERS
There is a saying that "words matter." Some will say actions speak louder than words which is true, but words do matter.
Just ask Eagles defensive coordinator Jom Schwartz and Seattle Seahawks emerging star wide receiver DK Matcalf, who lost week torched the Birds and star cornerback Darius Slay for 177 yards and twn touchdowns.
His 52-yard circus catch at the Eagles one-yard line early in the second quarter set up the Seahawks' first touchdown of what ended as a 23-17 win over the Birds.
Metcalf has had a grudge against the Birds since they passed on him during the 2019 drafT and selected JJ Arcega-Whiteside instead. Arcega-Whiteside may end up being one of the biggest draft busts in Eagles history while Metcalf has all the attributes of an All Pro receiver.
The 22-year-old had felt slighted when his caught seven passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in last season's Wild Card game at the Linc. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a concussion early in the game and the Birds lost 17-9.
After Monday night's game, Metcalf revealed why he was upset again.
"One of the defensive coaches came up to me and it kinda made me mad that he was like, 'I was in Detroit with Megatron but you're not there yet,' " Metcalf said in the postgame press conference, later confirming that the coach was defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. "In my mind, I'm not trying to be Megatron. I'm trying to be me. So, I had a little chip on my shoulder the whole game."
This week Schwartz was asked about the exchange. He said he meant it as a compliment. But he started his answer building the Calvin "Megatron" legend in Detroit.
"I can't believe paying a compliment to a player has become such a big thing," Schwartz said. "Before I even go into that, I want to say everybody needs to know the high esteem that I hold Calvin Johnson in. Calvin was not only the best player I've ever coached, he was the best player I ever coached against, and I think he's one of the great players in the history of the National Football League. I had five years up close and personal of every defensive coordinator's number one job was to stop Calvin Johnson and ran every tricked up defense known to man and he still made the plays and he was an incredibly hard worker, underreported with him. Great person. And just the honor of my career to coach a guy like Calvin Johnson."
Schwartz was just getting warmed up.
"So, it's, in my mind, it's a little bit funny, anytime you even speak somebody's name in the same sentence as Calvin Johnson I don't know how you could take offense to that," he said. "So I tried to pay the guy a compliment, said I read his story, knew he had overcome injury, heard he was a hard worker, and said he reminds me a little bit of Calvin and congratulated him after the game. At the time he told me, ‘Hey, thanks, Coach, that means a lot to me.’
"So if anybody wants to take offense to being compared to who I think is one of the greatest players in the history of the National Football League, then, yeah, if you get your motivation that way, then fine, but we're not going to worry too much about that. I think that the only person in the whole thing that deserves or that has any sort of whatever in that thing would be a guy like Calvin."
Schwartz even brought up his own kids in the long, long answer.
"But again, you just have to understand how much esteem I hold Calvin in, and like I said, the greatest honor of my coaching career was coaching that guy day-in and day-out," Schwartz said. "He's meant a lot to my kids and family and everything else. So, tried to pay a guy a compliment. I chatted with Russell Wilson before the game because I respect him so much and saw DK on the sideline in between plays and wanted to compliment him on his work ethic and overcoming injury and stuff like that. So, there it is."
DARIUS SLAY HELD HIMSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Schwartz may have taken a back-handed shot at Metcalf when he made comments about the defense put up by Slay. DK had a big game, whether motivation or not, but after the game Slay held himself accountable and didn't seem to even have any wavering of his confidence. He will need that confidence this week in Green Bay when he will be defending wide receiver Davante Adams.
"I appreciate that from Slay," the coach said. "We put a real, real big hat on Slay in that game because we gave him no help. And I would like to say, with a player like that, never once during the week did he ask where his help was going to come from, never once during the game did he say, ‘I need some help.’ He just kept going out there and battling. He didn't have the greatest day. He knows that.
"And really the only play I was disappointed with Slay in was the zero blitz. We knew it's a low-scoring game. We're trying to keep them out of field goal range. I run a zero blitz at mid-field, and he needs to be over the top and inside of that route and gave that one up. But the other plays fall to life in the big city. I sort of go back to, like, [Bill] Belichick when he faced Thurman Thomas in the Super Bowl and, well reported, he's like, ‘Look, Thurman Thomas is going to get a hundred, but we got to stop these other things.’ And I think we have a pretty good feel for how to play Seattle's offense. The last three times we faced them, we have done a decent job of keeping the score down."
ON TO GREEN BAY
Schwartz was asked if this is the highest level that he hasd seen Aaron Rodgers play at? Has Green Bay's offense been simplified?
"It's hard to look at their offense and say it's simple," Schwartz said. "Because like I said before, there's so many layers that go into it. But he's a player that's had a lot of success in his career, he's won Super Bowls, he's been an MVP-caliber player pretty much every time he steps on the field. But I think probably the biggest thing is they're extremely efficient. He has great command over their offense, they're hardly ever in bad plays. He seems like he always makes the right decision. He's willing to check the ball down. He can still scramble, he can still make those big plays, but they're a lot less one dimensional than at times they have been in the past.
"At times their run game wasn't a big part of what they did, or short passes weren't a big part of what they did. I think that they have really done an outstanding job of having an offense and it's not about one person, I've said that before, not about one person in an offense, it's the efficiency of the whole offense."
"I think that that's probably the complement that I would see," Schwartz said. "It's going to be a great matchup. We're going to work really hard to stop them, they're going to work really hard to score against us, and it will be a fun game to be in." *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii