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Eagles coordinator linked to Giants' head-coaching job

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Eagles coordinator linked to Giants' head-coaching job

UPDATED: Sunday, Dec. 31, 2:20 a.m.

Fears of Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz departing for a head-coaching job this offseason are on the rise, as rumblings increasingly tie the assistant to the New York Giants’ vacancy.

ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio points to a loose connection between Schwartz and Giants consultant Ernie Accorsi. That may seem like somewhat of a reach, but 24 hours later, longtime NFL reporter Michael Silver said he expects Schwartz to be a “strong candidate” for the job. Then, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported early Sunday morning Schwartz is expected to interview with the Giants within the next week while the Eagles are on a bye week.

Adding to the intrigue, Florio filed a separate report stating the Giants are interested in candidates with previous head-coaching experience. Schwartz previously coached the Lions for five seasons.

There’s no reason to think Schwartz would turn down a head-coaching job, so let’s focus on the Giants’ supposed interest.

A situation like this probably makes the most sense for Schwartz. It’s kind of difficult to imagine a franchise that’s in total rebuilding mode would want a retread, particularly a defensive-minded coach. Yet, despite finishing with no more than three wins in 2017, the Giants appear intent on trying to compete next season. Eli Manning is expected back for his 15th season, and New York did win 11 games just last year. Hiring somebody with previous experience definitely can be appealing in that situation.

As far as the connection to Accorsi is concerned, it sounds flimsy. First of all, it’s unclear how much pull he has now that the Giants have named Dave Gettleman general manager. Furthermore, Accorsi’s presumed interest in Schwartz is based on the idea Patriots coach Bill Belichick recommended it, which may or may not be true, and may or may not matter.

Still, that’s three reports linking Schwartz to the Giants, one saying he'll get an interview.

What happens from there could also be based on where the Eagles’ season goes from here.

The Giants would have an opportunity to meet with Schwartz next week during the bye. However, if the Eagles advance in the postseason, the Giants' brass may not be too keen on the idea of waiting around for his season to end. NFL teams often move to hire coaches quickly so they can get to work on assembling a staff and planning for the offseason.

It’s possible Schwartz becomes a victim of the Eagles’ success, given there will be several experienced candidates on the market in January. Will the Giants feel he’s somebody worth waiting for should it come to that?

Maybe. Schwartz’s stint with the Lions wasn’t as awful as it’s often remembered. He inherited a 0-16 team and had them back in the playoffs in his third season there. It’s not like his successor, Jim Caldwell, has Detroit tearing up the league.

Schwartz has also transformed an Eagles defense that had not been dominant in close to a decade into a top-10 unit within two seasons. The Eagles rank fifth in total yards allowed and sixth in scoring as 2017 comes to a close.

Of course, everybody knows Schwartz can coach defense. It’s also been suggested he views a coordinator position with the Eagles as a way to get his name back in the mix for a head job.

It worked. Schwartz is a legitimate candidate and may have multiple interviews. Who knows, he could turn the Giants down for a job someplace else.

OK, he probably won’t be in quite that high demand. The point is, there are a lot of moving parts here. The Giants’ interest in an interview might be overstated and doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in for the job. And if the Eagles last to championship Sunday or even the Super Bowl, the Giants could easily decide to go in a different direction, even if they are hot for Schwartz.

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. It remains to be seen whether the Schwartz talk is a small brush fire or a raging inferno.

Rating the rumor: Certainly a possibility

Mike Lombardi backtracks on Doug Pederson criticism – sort of

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Mike Lombardi backtracks on Doug Pederson criticism – sort of

Having previously stated Doug Pederson is unqualified, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi is finally walking back his criticism of the Eagles’ head coach. Kinda.

It only took a 13-win season and a trip to the NFC Championship game for Lombardi to admit he might’ve been mistaken.

Even now, Lombardi doesn’t sound entirely convinced about Pederson, who’s a strong candidate for Coach of the Year.

Lombardi garnered attention back in September after questioning Pederson’s credibility.

“Everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach,” Lombardi said during one of his regular NFL podcasts for The Ringer. “He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”

The comments grew beyond meaningless banter when Lombardi was tied to Jim Schwartz, and a report stated the Eagles’ defensive coordinator was actively working to undermine Pederson — just days before the start of the regular season.

It all seemed like a bunch of nonsense at the time, and the entire narrative over whether Pederson is the right person for the job hasn’t aged well. So four months and an Eagles win over the Falcons in a divisional playoff game later, Lombardi was finally ready to go back on his podcast and say he was wrong.

Well, sort of.

"I admit, I’m wrong. Okay, Doug Pederson was way better than I thought he was going to be in terms of his ability to lead that team. I think Jim Schwartz is a tremendous defensive coordinator. I think he deserves a lot of credit here. But I thought (Pederson) did a really good job with Nick Foles (Saturday). So all you Philly fans give me all this crap about, ‘Give Doug Pederson his due,’ yeah, okay, I was wrong. He’s a better coach. Now he’s going to have to do it again this week, and we’ll see how that is, but for me, I think when you win a playoff game, and you beat a team that you’re an underdog to, and you beat (Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan), and Nick Foles plays well enough, I think you deserve it. I think I have to admit — hey look, I think I was wrong in terms of how far I went with Doug, I’m not sure how great of a coach Doug is, but I was wrong in terms of how far I went with it."

Lombardi almost immediately praises Schwartz, before going on to say Pederson needs to prove himself again in the conference title game, he still doesn’t know how good Pederson is and the actual problem with his comments was the extent of his criticism, not necessarily that he was critical of Pederson in the first place.

Again, the Eagles won 13 games this season, earning the top playoff seed in the NFC, a postseason bye and home-field advantage throughout the tournament. Then they defeated the reigning conference champion Falcons and are now one victory away from a trip to the Super Bowl. He absolutely should win Coach of the Year. Even last season, Pederson won seven games as a first-year head coach with a rookie quarterback, so the idea he was ever wholly unprepared, as Lombardi suggested, was always a laughable take.

It’s safe to say Pederson has put any and all doubt to rest. There’s no need to qualify that statement or assign credit to somebody else. Pederson is good at his job. That much is a fact.

Look, almost everybody had concerns about Pederson when he was hired in 2016 and coming into this season. Perfectly reasonable. What Lombardi said in September was as preposterous as it was inaccurate, and anything less than saying he was completely, 100 percent incorrect isn’t backtracking nearly enough.

Eagles are letting the dogs out ... or in on Sunday

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Eagles are letting the dogs out ... or in on Sunday

The dogs will be out in full force on Sunday night and the Eagles are all too happy to allow it. 

After the Birds’ 15-10 triumph on Saturday, Lane Johnson and Chris Long, among others in the Eagles’ locker room, wore dog masks that the duo bought on Amazon as a reminder to everyone who picked the Falcons to win and to the oddsmakers that made the Eagles home underdogs for the tilt.

Once the masks appeared after the game, fans began buying them up, selling Amazon out of the look and also creating a huge market on eBay as well. For fans who were lucky enough to get the mask, they were probably wondering if they could wear it to the game on Sunday vs. Minnesota. Well, the Eagles answered that question in a tweet Monday morning.

The Eagles have completely embraced the role of the underdog and they’ll be underdogs again on Sunday night as they look to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004.

The city has been completely behind the Eagles all season long and there will be hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of dog masks inside the Linc on Sunday night.