Better D

Posted: June 26th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 27 Comments »

Jim Schwartz isn’t a genius. Buddy Ryan’s 46 Defense changed the game of football. Bill Belichick has come up with some voodoo defenses that no one has ever seen before. Rex Ryan overwhelmed offenses with his overload blitzes. Dick LeBeau has been terrorizing offenses with his zone blitz attacks for more than two decades.

Schwartz isn’t in the same class as those guys when it comes to X’s and O’s. But he is a darn good coach. Schwartz prefers to keep things more simple and let his players attack. One of the ways you can tell Schwartz is a good coach is to see the impact he has.


  • 2001 – 25th in Pts – 25th in Yds – 31st vs Pass – 5th vs Run
  • 2002 – 11th in Pits – 10th in Yds – 25th vs Pass – 2nd vs Run


  • 2009 – 32nd in Pts – 32nd in Yds – 32nd vs Pass – 25th vs Run
  • 2010 – 19th in Pts – 21st in Yds – 16th in vs Pass – 24th vs Run

In Year 2, Schwartz sees significant improvement. Granted, both places the defense struggled mightily in his first year so there was a lot of room for improvement. Still, the sign of a good coach is one who can identify problems and fix them.

There are two basic ways to improve a unit. First, you want the players you have to play better. Second, you want to add talent. When you make the kind of jumps that Schwartz did, you are pretty good in both areas.

Getting your returning players to improve involves several things. You must help them master the scheme. It is one thing to know the playbook, it is another to know it inside-out. Players will have to do the learning, but coaches can help them with the way they teach in film sessions and on the practice field.

In the second year, the coaches can start to focus on little things. The first season involves learning the basics of the scheme. After that, the coaches need to push the players to understand the subtleties of the scheme. The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. As players begin to really get a feel for how all the pieces work together, it will help them to be better as individuals and as a unit.

Good coaches do some learning in the first year. They get to know their players, as people and as pieces to move around on the field. Schwartz now has a better feel for how to use Fletcher Cox or Vinny Curry or Malcolm Jenkins. Schwartz should also know how to motivate them. Maybe that is showing Curry tough love while praising Jordan Hicks. You can’t treat everyone the same. You have to know which buttons to push.

As for new talent, coaches aren’t scouts, but they do offer their opinion on who they like and want brought in through free agency and the draft. The coach then has to find a way to mix in the new guys for optimal impact. That means teaching them the scheme from a basic standpoint and also trying to create instant chemistry with their new teammates.

Schwartz did this well in Tennessee and Detroit.

This season presents an interesting challenge. The 2016 defense was 13th in yards and 12th in points. That was a solid showing. There is a lot less room for improvement this year. If Schwartz can get the defense to jump 10 spots as he did in previous Year 2 scenarios, the Eagles will be in great shape.

More realistically, the defense would move into the Top 10 in points and yards allowed.

I don’t know what goals Schwartz will come up with. All of his talks with the media center on winning games. I’m sure he has some idea of the kind of jump he would like to see. He might have a goal for the number of sacks or interceptions. We aren’t going to find out those numbers any time soon, if ever.

Wins do trump stats, but this defense getting better would likely play a key role in getting the Eagles back to the postseason. Just get this defense into the Top 10 and lets see what happens.

And more of this please.


27 Comments on “Better D”

  1. 1 teltschikfakeout88 said at 9:33 AM on June 26th, 2017:

    #deepthoughts and #first

  2. 2 T_S_O_P said at 10:28 AM on June 26th, 2017:

    I came away most impressed by Schwartz, when his Buffalo defense faced-off against Aaron Rodgers, who was having (as always) an MVP type season. Simply untouchable. They turned #12 into Kevin Kolb that day, in full deer mode.

  3. 3 Ryan Rambo said at 7:28 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    That Buffalo Defense cost me the playoffs in FF! I had A-Rod & Jordy with visions of a Championship!!!

  4. 4 Nick C said at 10:35 AM on June 26th, 2017:

    Maybe he will actually blitz Kendricks this season (if he is still on the roster).

  5. 5 Media Mike said at 12:23 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    That’s about all he’s good at……………

  6. 6 Sb2bowl said at 2:56 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    He’s great at missing tackles and soft muscle injuries. So he’s got that going for him

  7. 7 Media Mike said at 6:45 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    extra soft

  8. 8 SteveH said at 11:29 AM on June 26th, 2017:

    It’s fun to see moments like that. I bet he’s not just cheering the successful stop, in a way, it’s moments like those that validate his career and his position on the team. A coach can only do so much, but then his fate is in the hands of the players.

    Tell me I’m wrong, this year the Sixers youth gets experience, then next year we go hard as fuck after Paul George, and our starting 5 is Fultz Simmons George Saric Embiid.

    Tell me I’m wrong and that’s a bad plan.

  9. 9 Rellihcs said at 12:23 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    I say it’s a bad plan because George will probably be tied up with another team.

  10. 10 P_P_K said at 12:46 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    Regardless of George, the Sixers are going to be really fun to watch.

  11. 11 Sb2bowl said at 2:55 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    George doesn’t want to be in Philadelphia, so there’s no reason to go after him.

  12. 12 SteveH said at 6:09 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    He might change his mind after he sees THE FEDS in action.

    That’s actually a really lame nickname. They all can’t be winners Joel.

  13. 13 Sb2bowl said at 10:27 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    Yeah, not liking it

  14. 14 Sb2bowl said at 11:36 AM on June 26th, 2017:

    As his scheme lives and dies with the front 4 rush, we can continue to expect beautiful highs and harrowing lows throughout the season. Some games, everything we do will be right and others- well, just the opposite.

    With their focus on bringing in more talent in both the secondary and the front 4, hopefully they can work symbiotically and create some more opportunities for pressure and interceptions. As much as the defense should improve this year, I expect the offense to move forward that much more and really begin to create a better balanced team inside and out.

    As Tommy pointed out- our defense doesn’t have to be number 1 across the board; but we need to improve our pass defense, and how many QB sacks/hurries we produce. If we can do those two things (and our LB’s continue to play well) we should be well on our way towards contention in the NFC East this year.

  15. 15 ChoTime said at 11:44 AM on June 26th, 2017:

    Evaluating a D by yards and points is very crude, guys. Those stats are highly affected by the amount of possessions the other team gets, which is predicated by pace and the offense’s efficiency; as well as where the opposing team gets the ball. Perhaps more important, it doesn’t take into account strength of schedule.

    In this case, we had the perfect storm: the hardest schedule in the league and a bottom tier offense with a rookie QB and awful skill position players. The defense, despite the weakness of the secondary, performed very well overall.

    This is borne out by defensive DVOA, a much superior stat to yards or points because it evaluates each play in its context and allows for strength of schedule, which ranked the Eagles D 4th in the league.

    A new article just revealed that the D got the 3rd most pressure in the league as well, only behind DEN and ARZ. So the additions on the DL just added some (projected) strength to an already great unit. The law of diminishing returns suggests that improvement there won’t have a huge impact–it would have been better to shore up the awful secondary instead.

    I don’t see any reason to suggest any large improvement in the defense–it was already very good! If the team is to get significantly better, it will probably need to be on the offense’s shoulders.

  16. 16 eagleyankfan said at 12:20 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    3rd “most pressure”…19th in sacks. Den/Arz 8 and 9th in sacks. If the Eagles close that gap of ‘pressure resulting in sacks’, there will be an improvement. Get the pressure – and finish the play. 1 more sack, every two games – Eagles will be 8th or 9th(like Den/Arz). 16th in Ints(tied with Cleveland). 23rd(tied) in FF. Can they improve on creating turnovers? Shouldn’t be too hard. If the rookie holds up, this will be a run D to watch…

  17. 17 Media Mike said at 12:23 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    “Get the pressure – and finish the play”


  18. 18 ChoTime said at 7:09 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    More sacks would be good, although I’ll take a mean pressure with an interception on the other end in preference. 🙂

  19. 19 RogerPodacter said at 1:30 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    ” Those stats are highly affected by the amount of possessions the other team gets, which is predicated by pace and the offense’s efficiency; as well as where the opposing team gets the ball.”

    sounds like you are making an argument for why the ’91 D is even better than they look on paper! ; )

  20. 20 Media Mike said at 6:44 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    you don’t say!

  21. 21 ChoTime said at 7:08 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    The ’91 Eagles were fifth in the league in points allowed, despite being the best D between ’91-’11 by DVOA by a significant margin. Although they were first in yards. I don’t know specifically about their schedule strength, but WAS, DAL, and NY were all ranked top 10 in the league, so it was most likely very strong! Incidentally, the Eagles were ranked 5th in the league by DVOA, all on the back of the D, despite only getting 10 wins.

    “It’s crazy to imagine how few points the Eagles might have given up if they were playing with a halfway-decent offense instead of losing Randall Cunningham to a torn ACL in the first game of the season. The Eagles were stuck depending on an over-the-hill Jim McMahon for 11 starts, plus Jeff Kemp for two and Brad Goebel for two. McMahon actually wasn’t half bad, with 6.9% passing DVOA, but the other two quarterbacks were awful, especially Goebel who had no touchdowns with six interceptions. And the running game was dreadful, with 3.1 yards per carry as a team.
    Still, the Eagles were fifth in the league in points allowed, and first in yards allowed by nearly 400 yards — and the team that was second in yards allowed is also on that top-ten defenses list, the 1991 New Orleans Saints. The Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per play, where no other team allowed fewer than 4.5. As bad as their running game was, their run defense was even better, allowing 3.0 yards per carry. Three-fourths of the starting defensive line was All-Pro (Reggie White, Jerome Brown, and Clyde Simmons). Linebacker Seth Joyner and cornerback Eric Allen made the Pro Bowl as well.”

  22. 22 Tumtum said at 9:02 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    The one thing that interest me and concerns me is what happened off those pressures. It just felt to me like the D line was slow. They need to give the QB less than 3 seconds, otherwise the “pressure” probably just means that the QB rolled out to hit the open freelancing guy.

    I hope they are able to build on these numbers though, and win back my little blackened heart.

  23. 23 scratcherk said at 12:50 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    i think schwartz frightened wentz there with that fist pump.

  24. 24 ACViking said at 1:39 PM on June 26th, 2017:


    I agree 100% that the Eagles’ defense should improve in “points allowed” this season for no other reason than — as you say — they’re in Y-2 of Schwartz’s scheme. And Schwartz’s tenures in TN and DET suggest as much.

    So I wondered, how did Schwartz’s defenses do in points-allowed after Y-2?
    Improvement? Regression? Status Quo?

    Tennessee Titans
    Y-1: 25th
    Y-2: 11th
    Y-3: 13th
    Y-4: 30th
    Y-5: 29th
    Y-6: 31st
    Y-7: 8th (added 4 new starters in D-backfield)
    Y-9: 2nd (Tulloch takes over at MLB)

    Detroit Lions
    Y-1: 32nd
    Y-2: 19th
    Y-3: 23rd
    Y-4: 27th
    Y-5: 15th

    What do these number foretell about the Eagles’ defense in 2018?

    I don’t want to think about that ’til next June.

  25. 25 Sb2bowl said at 2:54 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    Years 4-6 with Tennessee is concerning; one or two years at max for a statistical anomaly is alright, but that’s a pattern.

    Schwartz was the D-Coordinator there from 2001-2008- despite their bad numbers on paper, they actually went to the playoffs 4 times during that span.
    2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008.

    Unsurprisingly, when their defense was at least average or better, the team made the playoffs.

  26. 26 Media Mike said at 6:42 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    That Cox is going to give us motivated Haynesworth levels of production!

  27. 27 BlindChow said at 11:49 PM on June 26th, 2017:

    His defenses were never very good when he was HC. I pity the team that poaches him if he has consistent success with us as DC.