The Importance of Jim Schwartz

Posted: June 30th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 42 Comments »

Marion Campbell is an underrated defensive mind and was a terrific defensive coordinator. He helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl in 1980.

Buddy Ryan helped build the Eagles from a team that couldn’t win into a team that was on the verge of being an NFL powerhouse.

Bud Carson took over the defense in 1991 and helped the team win a playoff game after the 1992 season.

Jim Johnson became the defensive coordinator in 1999 and helped the Eagles reach 5 NFC title games and one Super Bowl.

Since Johnson passed away, the Eagles have had Sean McDermott, Juan Castillo and Bill Davis serve as the full-time DC’s for the team. And in that span the Eagles have been to just 3 playoff games. They have lost them all.

For whatever reason, it seems the Eagles are an organization that needs a defensive guru to run that side of the ball. Thankfully Doug Pederson did not try to go find an up and coming coach, but instead hired a proven DC who can deliver strong results. There is no guarantee that Schwartz will deliver great results, but he’s got a strong track record and should do a good job here.

All of these defensive gurus were tough, demanding coaches. They could be hard on their players. They also were great motivators. Players wanted to excel for them. There was a line in Tim Kawakami’s great piece on Buddy Ryan that really resonated with me.

What I learned from watching Buddy Ryan’s teams, and talking to Buddy, and to his players: Fear is a part of every NFL game, and if you can instill fear in your opponent, you cannot lose.

Now, sometimes Ryan and his teams went over the line. But pro football players–especially defensive players–want to be pushed, want to be on the attack, and want to intimidate their opponent.

Because they know that this game isn’t for the meek. Really, no professional sport is about that at all.

I don’t think it has ever occurred to me to focus on the primal nature of defense and defensive players. Defenders want to inflict pain. They don’t want to injure opponents, but they want to make them hurt at the end of every play. You aren’t going to get players to go out and punish opponents by being nice and encouraging them. You need someone who can push buttons and really drive his players to the edge. Not over the edge, but to it.

This isn’t just about being tough and macho. All of these defensive coaches could put together complex gameplans. Players had to be smart if they were going to succeed in those schemes.

Jim Schwartz runs a simpler system than the defensive gurus we’re talking about here, but don’t be fooled into thinking Schwartz just rolls the ball out there and yells “Attack!”. He will design creative blitzes. He will use stunts and loops with his DL. He will mix up coverages to keep offenses from knowing exactly what to expect.

Schwartz will tailor his system to the players he has. If the Eagles can run a basic system and get the best of offenses, so be it. If Schwartz needs to be more creative and aggressive, he will do that. The key is that he wants his players to attack. Rather than focus on being creative, he wants to find the best way to get his players to make plays, especially behind the line of scrimmage.

Chip Kelly and Bill Davis always talked about the need to confuse opposing QBs. Maybe. If you are Greg Maddux and can get batters out with movement and deception, so be it. If you are Nolan Ryan and can overwhelm them with 99 mph fastballs, why the heck would you worry about confusion? Do what you do best. The point isn’t to outsmart the opponent, but rather to pound him into submission.

Over the years, Schwartz has shown that he has a good feel for the appropriate balance of brains and brawn. You want players to be smart, but also fast and physical. Too much thinking can be a bad thing.

Think about Mychal Kendricks. He has the ability to be a good LB. He was in Pro Bowl consideration after the 2014 season. Instead of building on that, he took a step back in 2015. Kendricks didn’t lose speed or strength. Something got into his head. He lost his confidence and began guessing while out on the field. That led to him getting out of position on even some basic plays and having some rough moments.

Schwartz is going to tell Kendricks to quit thinking. Instead, go attack a specific gap. If the ball is there, tackle it. If not, find it and go hit the QB/RB/TE/WR who has it. Seek and destroy.

I don’t know that Schwartz will be dusting off Ray Rhodes speeches that began “Imagine an intruder is in your house and has a gun to your wife’s head…”, but I do expect Schwartz to do a much better job of connecting with these players on a primal level and motivating them to perform better than in recent years. He was able to get players to buy into his ideas in Buffalo, Detroit and Tennessee.

The days of toolboxes and dinner with the Matthews family are over. Schwartz is going to tell the Eagles defense to go knock the crap out of the opponent, over and over and over. If the players listen and buy in, the defense can produce some really impressive results.


42 Comments on “The Importance of Jim Schwartz”

  1. 1 The Importance of Jim Schwartz - said at 12:30 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    […] Tommy Lawlor Marion Campbell is an underrated defensive mind and was a terrific defensive coordinator. He helped […]

  2. 2 Dude said at 1:19 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    You’re a toolbox.

  3. 3 ICDogg said at 1:22 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    The primal level also applies to offense. Why did Buddy keep running the ball even when it wasn’t working? Like in the first half of the Body Bag game? It was because he wanted to physically pound the Skins and wear them down.

  4. 4 Jamie Parker said at 4:24 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    And that’s just what we want.

  5. 5 Gary Barnes said at 4:51 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Emmitt Thomas was another very good DC for the Eagles.

    Schwartz is important for improving the performance of the defense, but a large part of the equation is talent. I think the Eagles have some good talent, but we’ll have to see if they can pursue the attacking style consistently. As we saw the last several seasons, QB who have the time or run a quick release offense will test us in many ways.

  6. 6 Media Mike said at 6:31 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Emmit Thomas was very good.

  7. 7 A Roy said at 10:27 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Does Jeff Fisher get any love as a DC or was he too far in Buddy’s shadow?

  8. 8 Rellihcs said at 11:21 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    The later.

  9. 9 Media Mike said at 6:33 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Schwartz’s D always play with a big hitting edge to them. I can’t wait to see some big hits laid on the opposition.

  10. 10 eagleyankfan said at 8:38 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Do the Eagles have a defensive player capable of delivering big hits? Hicks? I’m talking about hits that de-cleat the offensive player. It’s been years since the Eagles have handed out some big hits. Last couple of years it seemed like time was spent on “wrapping up” instead of hitting. Hoping we get to see the beginning of a fierce defense…

  11. 11 Anders said at 8:55 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Kendricks have made some big hits. McCloed will decleat WRs if he gets the chance

  12. 12 Mark F said at 9:26 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    I love big hits just as long as it actually results in the player going down. Human missles that bounce off of ballcarriers need not apply…

  13. 13 The original AG said at 6:47 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    This is what has me excited about Schwartz – he’s going to attack as a defense. Billy D’s defense reminded me of Eddie Jordan’s offense (I know two different sports). Too much thinking and not enough playing. I think with the Dline we have, Kendricks comes back with a big year.

  14. 14 Aaron said at 6:56 AM on June 30th, 2016:


  15. 15 eagleyankfan said at 9:04 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    what others are saying about the Eagles in 2016…..”The Redskins should be more concerned with the Eagles, who have the best defense in the division.” Source:

  16. 16 unhinged said at 10:55 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Thanks for tweaking my fan gut-brain nexi. The mention of “guru” brings to mind the NFL-wide need for (and success of) defensive high achievers. Belichick, Wade, LeBeau, Dungy, Carroll, Marvin Lewis and Rex Ryan (the latter 2 as DC and DL, respectively) all have rings that account for 10 or 11 of the last 16 SB’s. If you include Spags in New York, that number climbs to 12 or 13 (the ambiguity relates to Tampa Bay’s 2002 season championship: Gruden’s ring, Dungy’s team). Then consider the Marshall Faulk/Kurt Warner GSOT, and the best QB in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, and the dynamic duo Payton/Brees were the only exceptions. In short, great DC’s are a league-wide necessity for Lombardi aspirations. Let us hope that Gentleman Jim is in Philly long enough to see the ascension of Wentz to no.1 QB.

  17. 17 theindianeagle said at 2:49 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    I wouldn’t even say Tampa’s super bowl run was an anomaly. They had an excellent defense with Monte Kiffin as the DC.

  18. 18 unhinged said at 3:44 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    I just think that Tampa would never have won that year if Dungy had not built that cover-2 behemoth.

  19. 19 Mac said at 11:08 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    The problem with Chip Kelly was less that he was playing chess while other coaches were playing checkers, and more that he was playing chess in the middle of a dodge-ball game.

  20. 20 Insomniac said at 11:21 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    That’s a little brutal. He was playing go fish while in a poker game.

  21. 21 laeagle said at 11:38 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    He was playing gin rummy in a game of slaps

  22. 22 A_T_G said at 1:47 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    He was playing with himself while everyone else was playing spin the bottle.

  23. 23 P_P_K said at 2:55 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    How many up votes is the max?!

  24. 24 daveH said at 7:52 PM on June 30th, 2016:


  25. 25 daveH said at 7:52 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    I was going to say Slap Fight myself !!

  26. 26 daveH said at 7:53 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Chip was playing deez nuts

  27. 27 Froogal Stoodent said at 11:28 AM on June 30th, 2016:

    Really? It’s never occurred to you that defensive players just want to be unleashed, instead of freezing and trying to overthink everything? If you don’t know that, you don’t truly understand defense…

  28. 28 TommyLawlor said at 10:38 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    It never occurred to me to really focus on the primal side of things. The whole read/react vs attack goes back years. I remember Giants players complaining about that in 1992.

  29. 29 Froogal Stoodent said at 2:21 AM on July 16th, 2016:

    It’s absolutely at the heart of defense, and it’s what separates an offensive-minded player from a defensive-minded player.

    And if you put somebody with one of those mindsets on the wrong side of the ball, he’ll never live up to what he could be

  30. 30 ChaosOnion said at 1:36 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Stop getting me excited, Tommy. I am trying to temper my expectations here.

    I cannot wait to see Cox firing off the ball from the inside and Curry coming off the edge! Tempered expectations, tempered expectations!

  31. 31 Gian GEAGLE said at 3:10 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    I can’t stop laughing! Rolondo McClain suspended for 10 games..
    The Dallas LOLboys

  32. 32 Tumtum said at 3:32 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Didnt get the tool boxes and dinners comment. I can’t wait to hear Jim talk in training camp though.

  33. 33 RogerPodacter said at 5:29 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    i thought the dinners comment was re: Casey Matthews??

  34. 34 Tumtum said at 2:08 PM on July 2nd, 2016:

    Not sure.

  35. 35 P_P_K said at 4:13 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    I hated when Juan was made DC. I hated the Davis hire. I think the Scwartz hire is the greatest. Unlike ChaosOnion, I have given up tempering expectations. I full expect the D his season to rock.

  36. 36 Mac said at 4:42 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    It’s hard not to be excited about a guy who actually knows how to build up and utilize NFL talent on defense who won’t be looking over his shoulder at an offensive minded HC constantly. Here’s to the hope that Schwartz/Pederson really is the new JJ/Andy.

  37. 37 P_P_K said at 7:38 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Here’s to the hope that Pederson believes in calling running plays.

  38. 38 daveH said at 7:50 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Upvote to the JJ part

  39. 39 T_S_O_P said at 5:31 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    I was most impressed by Schwartz’s Buffalo defensive making Aaron Rodgers look jumpy, off time and frankly, rubbish. I’ll sign up for some of that.

  40. 40 Rambo said at 6:25 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Lol…that performance killed my FF playoff hopes. I was riding Rodgers and Jordy that year. #turrible!!

  41. 41 Sean Stott said at 7:14 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Can’t wait to get back to fun football.

    Remember 2013? How fun that was?

    Even the bad years from AR still had a fun offense to watch. I think it will be a lot of fun to watch this defense, even if they don’t win as much as I’d like.

  42. 42 BobSmith77 said at 11:07 PM on June 30th, 2016:

    Castillo was put in a situation where he was almost destined to fail. Other he has had his share of success as a head line coach with the Eagles and Ravens.

    McDermott also got put in a very difficult situation in succeeding a near-legend in his first coordinator’s role. He also has had his share of success since then in Carolina.

    Davis just is in over his head as a defensive coordinator. He has been a defensive coordinator for several years for three different teams and yet had subpar/lousy results every year.