Eagles Wake-Up Call: How Long Will Jim Schwartz Stay In Philadelphia?
Welcome to the latest edition of the Birds 24/7 mailbag. You asked questions about the Philadelphia Eagles and now I’m here to give you answers. Thanks to everyone who submitted an inquiry on Twitter (@BrandonGowton). Let’s get started.
@R_J_Lane asks: What are the expectations that after a solid season Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is interviewing for head coaching jobs next year?
This is a fair question. But let’s keep in mind that there are still plenty of games left to be played.
There’s no question Schwartz is off to a good start. The Eagles’ defense has only allowed 20 points through three games. His unit completely shut down a Steelers offense that had been averaging over 31 points per game.
If Schwartz’s success continues, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name brought up in head coaching conversations. He obviously has former head coaching experience, so a team with a vacancy might be willing to give him a second shot.
Then again, it’s possible Schwartz might not be in high demand as some would think. NFL teams haven’t been keen on hiring defensive-minded coaches in recent years. All seven new head coaching hires in 2016 (including Doug Pederson) were guys with offensive backgrounds.
It’s also possible Schwartz might not want to leave Philadelphia. His first stint as a head coach didn’t go so well. The Lions went 29-51 (and 0-1 in the playoffs) during his tenure.
Schwartz doesn’t have it so bad right now. Pederson allows him to have complete control over the defense. Given all the former Schwartz players the Eagles have signed this offseason (Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Nigel Bradham, Stephen Tulloch), it’s clear he has influence over the player personnel department as well.
The truth is it’s too early to worry about Schwartz leaving. Eagles fans should enjoy him while he’s here. Losing assistant coaches is a downside of winning. It’s a good “problem” to have. It’s also a problem the Eagles might experience with offensive coordinator Frank Reich and/or quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo given their work with Carson Wentz.
@scottcripps2 asks: Do you think the early bye week will hurt the momentum the Eagles have going to start the season?
The early bye week is weird, but I don’t think it hurts the Birds too much. The Eagles are expecting to see McKelvin and Zach Ertz return from injury after this week. That’s a nice little boost.
And if Pederson is anything like his mentor Andy Reid, he knows how to prepare his team after the bye. Reid is 15-2 all-time in post-bye week games. The Chiefs went 7-0 after their bye last season. Kansas City won five games in a row after their bye in 2014.
@Moe99Mohsen asks: Who do you think should get more snaps: Ryan Mathews or Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood?
I received quite a few questions about the Eagles’ running back situation. I recently offered some thoughts on the matter in a different post.
Mathews – 33 attempts for 104 yards, 3 rushing TD – 1 reception for 3 yards
Sproles – 19 attempts for 51 yards, 0 rushing TD – 10 receptions for 160 yards, 1 receiving TD
Smallwood – 20 attempts for 96 yards, 1 rushing TD – 0 receptions
Barner – 14 yards attempts for 86 yards, 1 rushing TD – 0 reception
One group has clearly been more efficient than the other when it come to running the ball. It’s obviously a small sample size, but the Eagles should look to get Smallwood and Barner more involved in the running back rotation.
It’s too early for the Eagles to give up on Mathews completely. But it’s not too early to think about getting the other backs more snaps.
@wentzwagon1 asks: Do you think Dorial Green-Beckham will end up being a stud wide receiver?
Earlier this month I wrote about how DGB could be the perfect target for Wentz. The rookie quarterback likes to be aggressive and DGB has big play ability. They have the potential to form a great combination.
The 6-5 receiver’s role could continue to grow as the season goes along. He only saw two targets in Week 1. DGB was targeted four times in each of Philadelphia’s last two games. It’ll be interesting how he evolves over the course of 2016.
@realBrianCars asks: In the upcoming games, which game do you see as a potential trap game for the Eagles?
Maybe the Washington game in Week 5? Assuming the Eagles win in Week 4, it might be tempting for the Birds to look ahead to their big Week 7 matchup against Sam Bradford and the currently undefeated Vikings.
While we’re talking about the schedule, click here to see my updated Eagles record prediction.
@ErniePurcell: With J.J. Watt out for the season, plus seeing how the wide 9 has forced quarterbacks to step up, does Fletcher Cox have legit shot at Defensive Player of the Year?
Watt being out does leave the door open a little bit, but I don’t think Cox has the star power to win the award over other big names candidates, even if he’s deserving. With that said, winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September isn’t a bad start.
@aybarra88 asks: Who’s the better rookie, Carson Wentz or Doug Pederson?
Tough call. I don’t think I can pick one over the other. Pederson is key to Wentz’s success and vice versa. The Eagles have a special thing going with their quarterback and head coach so closely tied together at the hip.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Dolphins benched former Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell.
Check out our Open Thread from Thursday night’s game between the Dolphins and the Bengals.
Taking a look at the defensive performance from Sunday’s win over the Steelers.
Carson Wentz was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for September.
Fletcher Cox was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for September.
Who did our writers pick to win this week’s games?
“You think you’ve arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that’s when you get beat.” A new challenge has appeared for Doug Pederson and the Eagles to face.
Matt Dering and John Stolnis discuss some Eagles bye week topics on the latest BGN Radio episode.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Carson Wentz is back in North Dakota and hunting deer.
— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) September 29, 2016
We also learned that Malcolm Jenkins is preparing for some sort of doomsday scenario.
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) September 29, 2016
The Inquirer’s Mike Sielski writes how Wentz and Sixer Joel Embiid have become better by watching games.
Richard Hass, a cognitive psychologist at Philadelphia University, said in a recent phone interview that Wentz’s and Embiid’s performances and potential get to the heart of questions that psychological and neurological researchers have long been trying to answer: What is the source of expertise? What is the best way to become great at something? “Learning to outperform your peers consistently has a lot to do with practice,” Hass said. “The debate is, what does practice mean?”
In professional sports, there often is no debate. The conventional assumption is that, for an inexperienced player to improve, he or she must participate fully in practices or games – that there’s no way to simulate adequately what a quarterback will face from an opposing pass rush or what a low-post player will face from defenders of comparable size, strength, skill, and intelligence. But for Wentz and Embiid, the lip service that coaches and athletes pay to getting mental reps may actually be more than just a throwaway cliche.
“There are parts of the brain – and the science is emerging on this – that are called mirror neurons,” Hass said, “that seem to be able to track and simulate action. What Wentz may be able to do and Joel may be able to do is sort of imagine themselves in the game while they’re watching it.”
That is, Wentz and Embiid might be better equipped to take the lessons and information they glean from watching game film or reading a playbook and apply them to actual competition. Hass, for instance, cited Wentz’s comfort with sauntering up to the line of scrimmage, surveying the defense, and calling an audible as “something that is typical of experts. It’s akin to a chess player having the ability to use limited information to quickly identify incomplete patterns and make accurate predictions about them.”
“I would take that back,” Scott said when asked about his comment by Damon Amendolara during an appearance on The DA Show on Wednesday night. “I’m man enough to say when I’m wrong.”
Despite offering some cautious praise of Wentz and the Eagles, Scott isn’t willing to crown the rookie quarterback, noting that Mark Sanchez faltered after also starting 3-0 as a rookie. The former NFL linebacker added that two of the Eagles win came against “subpar teams” and that they caught an injured Steelers team at the right time.
“Could he be the real deal? Yes, but I’m not about to judge and call a rookie the real deal until he’s been in the league for three years,” Scott said, saying he was going to withhold judgment on Wentz until after the Eagles’ Week 8 matchup with the Cowboys.
“Is the kid playing well? Yes. But he has a lot of support around him,” Scott said, agreeing with Amendolara’s praise of the offense Doug Pederson has crafted for Wentz. “I want to see what happens when he gets into a firefight.”
Stay tuned for a special bye week edition of our weekly three-and-out prediction post.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.