PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the past several days, the spotlight at Eagles practice has been on Carson Wentz.
The Eagles’ Defense is hoping to gain its share of the limelight throughout the season.
The defense has been revitalized with the addition of Coordinator Jim Schwartz. The man now in charge has a proven track record of success, and players such as Linebacker Jordan Hicks have set the bar high for the upcoming season.
“We’ve got to keep them out of the end zone,” said Hicks. “If they don’t score, they don’t win. That’s kind of our mentality. It’s Coach Schwartz’s mentality. It’s our whole defense.”
Schwartz’s defense was impressive during the preseason. The Eagles’ attacking style resulted in a host of sacks and turnovers. However, Schwartz is not putting any stock into preseason performances.
“Let’s not start getting ahead of ourselves,” Schwartz said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s a long season. There aren’t going to be any asterisks that say, ‘Yeah, they were crappy this year, but they played really good in the preseason.’ ”
One of the reasons for the confidence from the players is Schwartz’s plan to rotate his front seven. There is depth on the defensive line, and players such as Connor Barwin believe the rotation system will keep the players fresh throughout the season.
“That’s the goal,” said Barwin. “We want to be fresh not only for the game Sunday, but we want to be fresh the end of November and December and January. When you can get contributions from everybody up front and rotate guys every three, four and five plays, that will make you fresh come the end of the year.”
The first test for Schwartz’s defense will come against Cleveland, and the Browns are banking on a bounce back year from their new starting quarterback. Robert Griffin, III wore out his welcome in Washington, but the man known as RGIII has been given a second chance in Cleveland.
Graham is bracing for the best from Griffin, and knows the defense will have to play at a high level to slow down the Cleveland quarterback.
“I think he’s going to be the player he used to be,” Graham said. “I think he got a fresh start. I think he’s excited to get out there and compete and show what he’s been doing just like we are.”