As a first-time NFL head coach, Doug Pederson made a pretty wise decision when he hired Jim Schwartz to be his defensive coordinator.
Schwartz, who was introduced at January’s press conference along with Pederson, is a former head coach and a strong defensive mind.
That seems to fit perfectly with Pederson, who lacks head coaching experience but is a former NFL quarterback and offensive coordinator.
“It’s one of those things where I wanted to find a guy on defense that I can trust, sort of the head coach of the defense,” Pederson said in Boca Raton, Fla., on Wednesday at the annual NFL owners' meetings.
Pederson is turning over the keys of the defense to Schwartz.
But it’s still his car.
And he wants to make sure he takes the necessary steps to ensure that the Philadelphia Eagles are a united football team, not a defensive team under Schwartz and an offensive team under Pederson.
“Exactly,” Pederson said. “And the thing for me is spending time on the defensive side, spending time with special teams. Showing the players that you’re not just stuck on offense. That’s something that I can take away from Coach (Andy) Reid, because he could do it that way. Embracing both sides of the football and uniting the football team that way.”
Spending time with the defensive side of the football isn’t something Pederson has done in the past. He was a quarterback during his playing days and all of his jobs as a coach in the NFL have been on offense. So figuring out how to allocate his time might be a case of trial and error.
In that respect, Pederson is very much like Reid, who rose to the rank of NFL head coach with experience only on offense. Also like Pederson, Reid aligned himself with someone he could trust to run the other side, his own head coach of the defense, Jim Johnson. Pederson even saw the similarities in the situations when asked on Wednesday.
While Johnson became an incredibly influential and successful defensive coordinator in the NFL, the Eagles were always Andy’s team. That’s the model Pederson wants to achieve, and he wants to do that by splitting his time.
He’ll get his first chance before the draft during the extra voluntary minicamp the Eagles get because they have a new head coach.
Now, Pederson isn’t kidding himself. He knows he’s going to spend the majority of his hours in offensive meetings, specifically with the quarterbacks, where he hopes to put his “stamp on that position.”
But on the field during practices, Pederson is looking forward to the chance to go from side to side. He plans on splitting his time 50-50.
“This spring, as we start diving into the X's and O's with our players, [I will] really get more involved with what [Schwartz is] doing on that side of the ball,” Pederson said. “And being in this position as head coach, it really allows me to bounce around to both sides of the ball a little bit more.”