2. Jim Schwartz has to coach his best game for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Many will argue that the Eagles’ defense has played well outside of the Week 2 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams but there have still been some issues. Nathan Gerry is getting consistently picked on by opponents and missing his assignments. The fourth-year linebacker is making rookie mistakes. Jalen Mills is having a difficult time transitioning to safety and has missed some assignments as well. 28-year-old slot corner, Nickell Robey-Coleman, has not performed to the standard that was expected of him in the first few weeks. It’s still early but Philly leaned on Cre’Von LeBlanc over ‘NRC’ more in last week’s game as a result.
At the end of the day, Schwartz is responsible for who is on the field. If Gerry is going to make rookie mistakes, it makes sense to get Davion Taylor some experience. The only way he will improve is by learning from his mistakes and what he provides can’t be much worse than Gerry has offered. Marcus Epps has a year of experience in this scheme over rookie K’Von Wallace but outside of a nice pass breakup last week, he hasn’t exactly earned his spot either. If he doesn’t step up, Schwartz needs to pull the trigger and get Wallace on the field.
One of the big criticisms of Schwartz is that he doesn’t disguise his looks well enough. He responded last week by making Joe Burrow think more in the pocket. Those extra split seconds that Burrow had to think gave the defensive line enough time to get to him. That has to continue versus the 49ers.
Jimmy Garropolo is still out, so the Niners are again banking on Nick Mullens who is no slouch. He’s shown that he can make the throws necessary to get a ‘W’, but he does struggle against pressure. Sometimes he gets rattled and tries to fit the ball into tight windows. If Schwartz can dial up some confusing pre-snap looks, blitzes, and stunts then it will be a long night for Mullens. How Schwartz schemes against a dominant outside run scheme, quick passing game, and an efficient play-action package will be crucial in this primetime matchup.