Eagles' Curry plays up 'opportunities,' plays down stats

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Vinny Curry has only 1.5 sacks this season.

VINNY CURRY has 1.5 sacks this season, his lowest production since then-defensive line coach Jim Washburn wouldn't let him on the field when he was a rookie in 2012.

This is unfortunate for many reasons, not the least of which is that Curry signed a five-year, $47.25 million contract in the offseason, with $23 million in guarantees. Curry and Connor Barwin (six years, $36 million, four sacks) have not been as effective at defensive end as Brandon Graham, who leads the team in sacks (five), tackles for a loss (nine), quarterback hurries (24) and forced fumbles (2). They have not benefited the way they should from offenses focusing on blocking defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

"It's part of the game," Curry said Thursday. He agreed that his numbers "definitely" aren't what he'd envisioned. "Keep going, keep grinding, keep working."

Snaps have always been a struggle for Curry. Despite the big contract, he still isn't a starter, at least nominally. Curry's 31 defensive snaps against Green Bay Monday night were his most since the Dallas game on Oct. 30. He's been over 40 only once, when he got 41 against the Vikings, the week before Dallas. Graham, by comparison, got 54 snaps vs. the Packers, and Barwin got 49.

Curry alluded briefly to "opportunities" as one of his problems, but quickly moved on to quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quickly and him getting close, but not quite getting there.

"Anybody in their right mind that understands football will understand, the opportunities I'm receiving, I'm making the best of them," he said. "I still ain't complaining, I'm not jumping up and down. It is what it is, you know? (Critics) can say what they want, but I know I'm out there busting my (butt)."

The Schwartz speaks

Jim Schwartz is the first Eagles defensive coordinator in at least a few decades who isn't available to answer questions after games. Reporters speak to him only on Thursdays, when the focus has turned toward the next opponent, so whatever was good or bad from the previous game gets analyzed and explained without his input.

In bad times, such as the aftermath of Monday night's loss, it kind of feels as if Schwartz's players have to be accountable and explain themselves, but he does not.

ESPN's Tim McManus brought up that point Thursday during Schwartz's availability. Not surprisingly, Schwartz took umbrage.

Schwartz said he does what the league requires. He indicated he was willing to move his news conference to a day earlier in the week.

"I don't want to take away from coach (Doug) Pederson on game day," Schwartz said. "I've been a head coach before, and I understand the way that goes. There needs to be one voice, and I think that's important.

"I'm certainly not - I mean, you don't know me well enough to think that I'm getting away from accountability. There is absolutely no question about that. We are all accountable. I take incredible pride in what we do defensively, and I take ultimate responsibility for what we do on defense. But I'm the defensive coordinator (not the head coach)."

Asked about Monday night, and the problems the Eagles have had the last two weeks with mobile quarterbacks, in Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, Schwartz said:

"It is different. I mean, I think that the difference there is that the last couple weeks, we faced offenses that had quick throws in their offense, but also had quarterbacks that could extend plays. And you know, even if you won in pass rush . . . winning in pass rush didn't mean you were going to sack the quarterback. Because not only would you have to defeat a blocker, but you had to be able to get the quarterback on the ground, and sometimes these quarterbacks were going straight backwards buying time.

"You know, it's hard. They're not trying to get sacked, either. They are trying their very best to stay out of those long-yardage situations. Every rush plan is a little bit different. The quarterback definitely has a lot to play in it. Every quarterback has a pattern where they rush. Some guys are step-up guys, some guys are escape-outside and some guys are escape-backwards. So every game plan is a little bit different, both in a blitz game and a rush game. The scrambling guys do put incredible pressure on you. And particularly when you combine that with ability to throw quick. It's life in the NFL."

Schwartz said that against Rodgers, "we had to find a way to win on third down. We didn't do that."

Birdseed

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews was listed as a limited practice participant with the ankle injury he suffered Monday night, and looked very limited during the individual drills at the start of practice, which is all reporters are allowed to observe . . . Running back Ryan Mathews and RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (MCL, in both cases) did not practice and seem to be out for this week . . . The Bengals have lost seven fumbles this season, which is a lot . . . Wide receiver Nelson Agholor said he still doesn't know whether he will be active this week, but he is eager to get back on the field.


bowenl@phillynews.com

@LesBowen

Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog

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