Photo by phillymag.com

Jim Schwartz has been the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles since 2016. Well it looks like he won’t be back after the 2020 season as NFL Network’s Tom Persillo reported that Jim Schwartz is going to let his contract expire and will take the 2021 season off as he contemplates retirement. The Eagles will need to find a new defensive coordinator.

“I’ll tell you, our relationship has evolved tremendously,” Eahles head coach Doug Pederson said this week. “I think we’ve been more on the same page over the years, me just getting to know him each year and understanding him as a coach and a coordinator. Obviously, his defenses historically have been top defenses in the National Football League. Of course, when guys are healthy and all of that.

“Our relationship’s been great. I think as the season progressed this year, I thought the defense actually was doing some really good things for us and keeping the offense in these football games here down the stretch, creating takeaways and sort of stymieing the run game from our opponents, things of that nature. I think overall it’s been really good.”

The Eagles have a few internal candidates who might be able to replace Schwartz if they want to go that route. DL coach Matt Burke and DBs coach Marquand Manuel have both been defensive coordinators before.

The Eagles haven’t had the greatest defense, especially secondary, with Schwartz aa the coordinator. Some of the stats may tell you different. The Eagles have had one of the best defensive lines with Schwartz, which makes these stats look good. Let’s take a look at those stats: 

Points allowed: 21.8 per game (9th)

Yards allowed: 343.2 (14th)

Passing yards allowed: 244.2 per game (20th)

Rushing yards allowed: 99.0 (3rd)

The Eagles need a change as the defense this year hasn’t been great. It feels like the Eagles need a new voice. Also, a lot of the older players on the Eagles will soon be departing into retirement. It’s time for something fresh for the Birds. But, you can definitely make the case that the Eagles’ offense was a much bigger problem than their defense in 2020.

Here’s some of the talent Schwartz has worked with over five years. He’s had just three Pro Bowl players in five years: Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins and now Brandon Graham this season. On the flip side, Schwartz also has some personnel power so he has a say in the players he gets.

“I like Jim Schwartz,” said Graham, the longest-tenured member of the Eagles’ defense. “I love his defense, I think sometimes because of injuries and certain things that happen, I mean, the defense that he runs, I feel like I’m always in position to make plays, but sometimes it’s tough.

“When you don’t get the personnel, guys to do certain things, like (Rodney) McLeod going down, that’s our general in the back that keeps everything together. It’s a lot of stuff that’s kinda played its part this year, and it just sucks because I know Jim is a good coach and sometimes the weight of the season just kinda gives people a bad name.”

A lot of frustration has come from fans about Schwartz’s style, which is seen as passive. In some cases, it certainly is. Schwartz’s entire defensive scheme is based on the strategy of getting pass rush with the front four, which means not blitzing as much and lending help to the backside. Schwartz will blitz but he’s selective. And in the NFL, you have to blitz!

One of the common knocks on Schwartz’s defense to this day is that the Eagles won the Super Bowl on a night when they gave up 600 yards to the Patriots. Sure, that’s true. But the Eagles don’t get to the Super Bowl without Schwartz’s defense either. They gave up 17 points in the two playoff games before that. The Birds had one of the best defenses in the league that season. That night the Eagles were faced up against arguably the great player to play in the NFL, Tom Brady, so it wasn’t going to be easy no matter what.

The hardest part about replacing Schwartz will be figuring out what type of scheme the Eagles would want to run. They’d likely stay in a 4-3 but how aggressive would that front be? His defensive linemen really like playing for him.

“I love Jim,” Javon Hargrave said. “For the simple fact that he really loves the d-linemen. I really love Jim this year. Because definitely love his scheme because it’s definitely something I think I’m going to really enjoy. Really enjoy for being here. So I didn’t really get to know him off the field of course because of the COVID stuff, but as a coach he’s just somebody who expects big (things) from all of us and if any man go down he expect the other man to step up and perform, so I really loved playing for him this year.”