Schwartz: Tulloch’s Role ‘Yet To Be Determined’

Jim Schwartz explains the addition of Stephen Tulloch to the Eagles.

Jim Schwartz. (Jeff Fusco)

Jim Schwartz. (Jeff Fusco)

When Jim Schwartz was the head coach in Detroit, he once tried to give Stephen Tulloch a day off because the linebacker was a veteran. But Schwartz failed.

Tulloch came into his coach’s office “mad as a hornet,” and told Schwartz how he was ruining his streak of never missing a practice that went back to Tulloch’s high school days. Schwartz, who now notes he’s not one to negotiate, gave in and allowed Tulloch to practice on a limited basis.

Schwartz chuckles at that memory, and points to it when asked about Tulloch’s fitness and preparedness as the 31-year-old joins the Eagles just a couple of weeks before the regular season begins.

“Guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready,” Schwartz said. “He knows he’s not coming in here with his eyes shut not knowing what he’s getting into. He’s done it before. He’ll be able to do that. I’d be very surprised if it was a different case.”

Although Tulloch has been a free agent for about six weeks since the Lions cut him in early July, Schwartz says the linebacker has been training twice a day. It’s unclear if Tulloch will practice this afternoon because of the administrative tasks he needs to take care of, but the plan is for Tulloch to be on the field.

It’s also unknown what role Tulloch will play in the Eagles’ defense this season.

“We’ll see. We’re a merit-based defense. We don’t go in with a lot of preconceived notions,” Schwartz said. “He’s not here to replace anybody, he’s here to add to our group. And as coaches, our job is to find out what guys do the best and what guys bring to the party. Everybody’s got something different they bring to the party, and we embrace that and try to find a role for all of those guys. What role he’s gonna play is yet to be determined.”

Tulloch, whose one-year deal in Philadelphia was confirmed by the team today, is widely seen as a two-down linebacker who has lost a step, and he seems set to take Joe Walker’s backup middle linebacker spot. However, with all three of the Eagles’ starting linebackers missing time due to injury last season, Tulloch could start — or at least play significant snaps in — several games this year.

“He’s a very experienced player, he’s played at a high level of production, plays with a lot of spirit,” Schwartz said. “He’s heavy in the run game, he’s got natural leverage — that’s a kind way of saying he’s short. But he’s really powerful, he understands blocking schemes and he has good understanding of pass games. He’s got a little bit of experience in the defense. I don’t know if that means a whole lot; he’s a good player that stands on his own. He’s done it in different schemes.”