We learned on Monday night that the Cleveland Browns requested permission to interview Jim Schwartz for their vacant head coaching position and the news was met in Philly with chuckles.
Take him, right?
Not so fast. Because as much as many fans would like to see Schwartz out of town, he wouldn’t be an easy guy to replace. The grass really isn’t always greener.
Since Schwartz became the Eagles’ defensive coordinator in 2016, and was given near complete autonomy over that side of the ball, check out where the Eagles rank in several key defensive categories:
Points allowed: 7th
Total yards allowed: 11th
Rushing yards allowed: 1st
Opponent 3rd down %: 3rd
Opponent 1st downs: 2nd
During his time here, the Eagles have played six playoff games and have given up 20 or fewer points in five of them. Even including Super Bowl LII, they have given up an average of just 17.0 points per game in those six.
And Schwartz is doing this with just two players who have made a Pro Bowl — Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins. To put that in perspective, the Eagles’ offense has had six Pro Bowlers in the last four years.
To some extent, Schwartz is responsible for some of the lack of talent. The Eagles have continually brought in players with whom he has familiarity. Some have worked and some haven’t. But the Eagles also haven’t done a great job of drafting or providing Schwartz with top-notch talent. Schwartz has schemed defensively with what he has.
And it’s no surprise that the Eagles are 23rd in the NFL in passing defense under Schwartz after watching the injuries after the last two years. They’ve played with guys like Ryan Lewis and Dexter McDougle. So when you’re screaming for Schwartz to blitz more, just remember that every blitz leaves an inadequate secondary exposed.
I think the problem many fans have with Schwartz is perception and style of play.
While the Eagles have the third-best defense in the last four years in third-down percentage, they are 10th when it comes to 3rd-and-10 or longer. And they have given up 44 pass plays of 40+ yards; just four teams have given up more. So this defense is not without its warts.
But if Schwartz were to leave, there’s not a slam dunk replacement on the current staff. So the Eagles would probably have to go outside the organization to find his replacement and it would be tough to find a better option.
For the record, I’d be pretty shocked if the Browns hired Schwartz to be their head coach. They’re casting a wide net and my guess is that they end up with someone else. The Eagles should hope they do.