Eagles Wake-Up Call: Getting To Know Schwartz
It was just a touch over two years ago that Jim Schwartz stood in front of the Buffalo media for his introductory press conference, answering questions that may very well repeat themselves in the coming days here in Philadelphia.
A league source confirmed to Birds 24/7 that Schwartz is in town to meet with the Eagles’ brass about the defensive coordinator opening. According to Adam Caplan, that interview is expected to happen today. He’s reportedly drawn interest from the Browns and Jaguars as well, but some feel that he’ll likely ink a deal with the Eagles.
If he does, there will be plenty of people in Philly interested in his philosophies, preferences, and yes, deployment of the “Wide 9” alignment.
“Mostly that’s thrown around by people who couldn’t line it up if they wanted to,” said Schwartz of those who label his defense as a Wide-9 attack. “That’s no disrespect to those people, but I say this: there’s 32 teams in the NFL and all 32 of them line up in a Wide 9. Not all of them are called Wide 9 teams, but that’s just the way it goes…It’ll certainly be part of our scheme here but that won’t define our scheme.”
“We’ll be fast, we’ll be physical, we want to attack,” said Schwartz. “We’re not going to be a reading defense. There’s going to be a lot of defensive linemen that are real happy to play in a system like that.”
Count Fletcher Cox among them. At the close of the season, Cox offered a diplomatic response when asked about scheme preference moving forward. But when he caught wind on Monday about the system that very well may be coming to Philly, he did little to hide his true feelings.
Did somebody say 4-3 …. Or am I dreaming
— fletcher cox (@fcoxx_91) January 18, 2016
Whether he was referencing Schwartz’s scheme or just the 4-3 in general, it’s pretty obvious the Pro Bowler likes the idea of getting the chance to let it rip after several years of two-gapping under Billy Davis and Chip Kelly. Jim Washburn, who was Schwartz’s defensive line coach in Tennessee during Schwartz’s eight-year run as the Titans’ defensive coordinator, once said that “when God made [Cox], he made him to play in this system right here.” Could be that Cox is playing in at least some version of that system once again in 2016.
Schwartz has fielded some quality defenses during his most recent stints as DC. Here’s a breakdown of how he fared during his time as defensive coordinator both in Tennessee and Buffalo. (Note: DVOA defensive ranking is courtesy of Football Outsiders.)
|Year||DVOA Rank||Takeaways/game (rank)||Points Per Game||Run/Pass Rank|
|2001 Titans||25th||1.5 (27th)||24.2||5th/32nd|
|2002 Titans||18th||1.8 (13th)||20.2||2nd/25h|
|2003 Titans||11th||2.1 (9th)||20.2||1st/30th|
|2004 Titans||24th||1.9 (13th)||27.4||18th/26th|
|2005 Titans||30th||1.2 (27th)||26.3||22nd/17th|
|2006 Titans||20th||1.8 (16th)||25.0||30th/27th|
|2007 Titans||1st||2.1 (8th)||18.6||5th/10th|
|2008 Titans||5th||1.8 (9th)||14.6||6th/9th|
|2014 Bills||2nd||1.9 (3rd)||18.1||11th/3rd|
As you can see, he closed out his time with the Titans in strong fashion, leading to a head coaching gig with the Lions. He was fired after posting a 29-51 mark with Detroit from 2009-13. Schwartz landed in Buffalo in ’14 and led a Bills defense that finished first in points per drive, fourth in yards against, fourth in points and third in takeaways.
He lost his job anyway when Doug Marrone opted out of his contract and Rex Ryan was hired by the Bills. Schwartz sat the ’15 season out and served as a coaching consultant to the league’s officiating department.
“It gives you time to do retrospectives, or to look introspectively at things that you’ve done well, and things that you haven’t,” Schwartz told SI.com. “I talked a lot with (Saints head coach) Sean Payton when he ended up with that year off (due to league suspension in 2012), and the way he ended up using that, in what he called the ‘halftime of his career.’ Maybe there’s some adjustments you need to make at halftime.
“I think it’s a lot easier to learn from other people when you’re taking a step back and watching it, and you’re not in the fight every week. Now I can watch the games and I can see it a little differently, with a little different view.”
Schwartz has noted that he is now at the point in his career where he can be “selective about opportunities.” While he won’t put his system in a box, it seems to be one that is largely dependent on having a quality defensive front. With Cox, Bennie Logan and potentially Vinny Curry at his disposal, Philly might just look like a quality re-entry point for the 22-year NFL coaching vet.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The latest buzz on the Eagles coaching staff.
Josh gets you a little more familiar with the Eagles’ new head coach.
Just how close were the Eagles to landing Ben McAdoo? Peter King has the details.
Josh takes a closer look at what Doug Pederson‘s coaching staff could wind up looking like.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Finding a strong defensive coordinator will play a big role in Pederson’s success or failure, writes the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane.
[Andy] Reid got it right with the Eagles and the Chiefs when he tabbed Jim Johnson and Bob Sutton, respectively, to run his defense. In both cases, he went with veteran coaches who had mild success as NFL coordinators but impressed Reid when his teams faced their defenses.
Johnson and Sutton were also beyond the point of being considered future head coaches. They had strong personalities and were beloved by their players, but they would never do anything – consciously or not – that could be viewed as a threat to Reid.
Pederson, who will officially become the Eagles’ next head coach this week, needs to find his Johnson or Sutton. He can’t just blindly go with one of the big-name coordinators who are available.
The Eagles should let Sam Bradford go, writes Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski, but not without some sort of return.
One of the major decisions the Eagles face this offseason is what to do with Sam Bradford. Philly’s fan base got a jump-start on that debate long before the season was even over. Some believe the Eagles should go in a different direction at quarterback, while others believe Bradford should stay.
The “Bradford should stay” people often ask the “Bradford should go” people something to the effect of, “If Bradford isn’t the starter, who are the Eagles going to get who is going to be better than him next season?” The answer is probably nobody, but it really doesn’t matter. Because, again, I’ll repeat…
The Eagles aren’t going to be Super Bowl contenders in 2016. And really, they’re not even close. A self-realization of that reality should be the starting point to this upcoming offseason.
Pederson’s introductory press conference is scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm. We’ll have wall-to-wall coverage throughout the day.