Eagles’ Schwartz downplays apparent dig toward DK Metcalf

Eagles Metcalf Slay
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) attempts to leap over the tackle of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (24) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The last thing anyone associated with the Philadelphia Eagles wanted to do was light a fire under Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, who is quickly developing into one of the top pass catchers in all of football.

It’s bad enough that the franchise and its fans have to deal with the fact that they passed on the Herculean-like second-year receiver out of Ole Miss, opting to go with JJ Arcega-Whiteside — who hasn’t done much in the NFL — instead.

Yet there was Metcalf after his Seahawks defeated the Eagles 23-17 on Monday night — dropping Philadelphia to 3-7-1 on the season — saying defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz added some extra motivation ahead of his 10-reception, 177-yard performance.

Metcalf told reporters that Schwartz approached him before Monday night’s game and compared him to former Detroit Lions-great Calvin Johnson, adding “you’re not there yet.”

“In my mind, I’m not trying to be Megatron,” Metcalf said. “I’m trying to be me. So I had a little chip on my shoulder the whole game.”

On Wednesday, Schwartz tried to clarify the situation, which resembled the bully trying to justify his actions after getting punched in the mouth on the schoolyard.

“If you get your motivation that way, fine, we’re not going to worry too much about that,” Schwartz said. “I think the only person in the whole thing that has any sort of [offense] in that thing would be a guy like Calvin.”

Schwartz was Johnson’s head coach with the Lions for five years from 2009-2013 as the receiver nicknamed Megatron left an indelible mark on the game as a premier big-play threat.

“I had five years up, close and personal and every defensive coordinator’s No. 1 job was to stop Calvin Johnson,” Schwartz said. “[They] ran every tricked-up defense known to man and he still made the plays. He was an incredibly hard worker, under-reported with him.

“A great person, and just the honor of my career to coach a guy like Calvin Johnson. So in my mind, it’s funny any time you speak someone’s name in the same sentence as Calvin Johnson, I don’t know how you can take offense to that.

“I tried to pay the guy a compliment. I said I read (Metcalf’s) story, knew he had overcome injury, heard he was a hard worker, and said he reminds me a little bit of Calvin. Congratulated him after the game. At the time he told me, ‘Hey, thanks, coach. That means a lot to me.’”

With that added motivation, Metcalf dominated top Eagles cornerback Darius Slay — who has the sole responsibility to shut down the opposition’s best receiver week in and week out.

Slay’s struggles were met with support by Schwartz, who understood the difficult role he tasked the veteran corner with.

“We put a real big hat on Slay in that game because we gave him no help,” Schwartz said. “I’d like to say, with a player like that, never once during the week did he ask where his help is 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 … In order to keep Russell from scrambling, in order to handle their run game, in order to handle Lockett and do all those other things, we had to put that hat on Slay. I don’t look at it like he lost us the game. I look at it like he was the reason that we were able to do all those other things.”

As for Slay, he labeled it as “by far, that’s my worst game I ever played in the league. I really truly lost almost like every 50-50 ball.”

There’s no rest for Slay, Schwartz, and the weary Eagles any time soon, either, as they next meet Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday. Slay will be tasked with covering star receiver Davante Adams, who ranks fourth in the NFL in receptions and second in touchdowns.

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