On Schwartz And A Contrast In Styles
Jim Schwartz says it took no time at all to get a feel for what the Philly market is like.
“I have boots on the ground for less than 24 hours. Here’s Doug Pederson, new head coach, just gets done thanking his wife, and right away it’s, ‘What took so long on that last drive?’ The honeymoon is short in Philadelphia, man,” said Schwartz with a smile.
“And then I got off the Acela from New York yesterday and there’s two cameras waiting for me. And I told Dom [head of Eagles security], ‘Oh, they’re waiting for me.’ And he’s like, ‘No, coach, there was a [shooting] on the subway. They weren’t here for you.’ So that was fun.”
But Schwartz seemed to be taking it all in stride. The longtime NFL vet spoke casually with a group of reporters along the NovaCare auditorium wall shortly after Tuesday’s main event. If Pederson’s press conference came off like a formal interview to capture a city’s approval, Schwartz’s session had more of a relaxed, motive-free, this-is-who-I-am feel to it. That’s part circumstance, of course — only one was being introduced as the new face of the franchise — but it also spoke to where the two men are in their respective careers. Pederson is still pretty new to the game, relatively speaking. Schwartz has been there, done that. He’s worked in five different cities from Nashville to Detroit, serving in a number of roles ranging from personnel scout to head coach — a post he held for five years with the Lions.
After a successful season as defensive coordinator for the Bills in 2014, Schwartz lost the gig when Doug Marrone opted out of his contract. He took this past year off from coaching. The 49-year-old spent a couple days a week in the league office and served as an officiating consultant. (“I got to infiltrate the enemy, so to speak,” he said.) He drove his kids to school for really the first time. Was able to be there for all of their games. “You can’t buy that, and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me,” he said.
Schwartz is thinking of the year away as the halftime in his coaching career — a break that allowed him to make adjustments that he believes will help him in the second act. He said he chose Philly as the re-entry point for three reasons: the owner; an offensive coach in Pederson with a good reputation in the league; and the personnel.
“There’s talent at all three levels of this defense: up front, linebackers and in the secondary. And that made it easy to say yes also,” said Schwartz, who had glowing things to say about the defensive front in particular.
“We want to attack, we want to knock back, we want to put pressure on the quarterback, we want to create negative plays. And I like this group. Again, that’s very attractive. Fletcher Cox. I know he’s a free agent, but Cedric Thornton. Vinny Curry, free agent. Connor Barwin. I think those are guys that can do that. Brandon Graham, I had him at the Senior Bowl, man, he was my MVP. I think we helped him get drafted in the first round. He might owe me a little bit of that signing bonus — I think he had three or four sacks in that game. Those guys all fit that style — they’re attack players. And if we can get after the quarterback without having to blitz, we’ll be in a great position.”
Schwartz has a reputation of being uncensored and mercurial, where Pederson is thought of as measured and even-keeled. Schwartz said he did not have a prior relationship with Pederson heading into this courtship. While the two apparently meshed during the interview process, Schwartz also made the point that the head coach and coordinator having two different personalities might just be a good thing.
“My wife is a lot different than I am, and she covers up for a lot of things that I lack,” he said. “And I think when you talk about a head coach and a coaching staff, I always thought it was very important to have a lot of different kinds of personalities: have guys that might be more players coaches; have some disciplinarians; have some fiery guys; have some calm guys, some quiet guys. And I think that makes it work. You want to be yourself, but try to get as many different things together. I think I can help in that.”
When you’re younger in your career, Schwartz noted, it’s largely about chasing a title bump: going from position coach to coordinator; coordinator to head coach, etc. Having gone through that cycle already, he said his priorities are now different as he jumps back into the game.
“I’ve been 23 years in the NFL — I started at the very bottom — and I’ve done all that stuff. I think I was the only person in the history of the NFL to take an 0-16 team to the playoffs. The one thing I haven’t done is hold the Super Bowl trophy. And that consumes me. I would want nothing more than to see Mr. Lurie hold that trophy, to see that trophy in the front of a parade in the city of Philadelphia.”