Jim Schwartz

Doug Pederson finally gives Jim Schwartz a vote of confidence

Doug Pederson finally gives Jim Schwartz a vote of confidence

At the Eagles’ year-end press conference on Wednesday, head coach Doug Pederson made it seem like offensive coordinator Mike Groh and WRs coach Carson Walch were safe, while Jim Schwartz’s job was in question.

Flip that.

The very next day, the Eagles fired Groh and Walch. And in his statement released by the team, Pederson finally gave Schwartz a vote of confidence.

I apologize for any confusion that I created during yesterday’s press conference, including my comments on Coach Schwartz, who has done a great job as our defensive coordinator. It was my intent to not comment on any of my staff during the ongoing evaluations, because I wanted to be able to go through the process and communicate any decision directly with the individuals. I did a poor job of explaining that the first time I was asked. I will continue to evaluate everything, and consider all possibilities to improve our football team.

Basically, as I understand it, Pederson simply misspoke and flubbed the press conference.

He wanted to say — and planned on saying — that he was evaluating all the coaching positions but messed up when he was specifically asked about Groh and Walch. So when he was asked about Schwartz and he dropped the line about evaluating everything, he thought it was the second time he mentioned that. It was not; it was the first time and it gave the impression that Schwartz was on shaky ground. That’s not the case.

In fact, you can count on Schwartz returning as defensive coordinator in 2020 if he doesn’t get hired as the Browns’ head coach, something that is apparently very possible.

I have already written that losing Schwartz would be a bigger loss than some fans think. Despite his flaws, Schwartz’s unit has been seventh in scoring defense in the last few years without many great players.

Pederson seems to agree about Schwartz. It just took him two tries to say it.

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Doug Pederson vague regarding Jim Schwartz's future with Eagles

Doug Pederson vague regarding Jim Schwartz's future with Eagles

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch will be back on his staff next year.

“Both those guys will be back,” Pederson said.

Minutes later, Pederson failed to give defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz the same vote of confidence. 

And a little bit later he backed off his original comment about Groh and Walch.

Welcome to the Eagles’ offseason!

Schwartz and Groh have been on Pederson’s staff since he became head coach in 2016, Schwartz all four years as defensive coordinator and Groh as wide receivers coach for two years and offensive coordinator the last two.

Schwartz interviewed Wednesday for the Browns’ head coaching job, but he’s considered a longshot for the position.

Does Doug want him back? 

Given several opportunities to say Schwartz will return, Pederson declined.

“Jim’s done an outstanding job with our defense and the improvement that we saw throughout the course of the season, so I’m excited for him and his opportunity,” Pederson said. “I wish him the best.”

So is he coming back?

“He’ll be on a plane back here at some point after the interview.”

Funny, Doug. 

But if he doesn’t get the Browns job, will he be back on your staff?

“I would assume, yes. He’s currently my D.C., yes.”

It sure seemed Pederson was being intentionally vague about Schwartz’s future.

Asked directly why he was so specific about Groh coming back but not about Schwartz, Pederson said this:

“With all my staff I’m in that process right now of evaluating,” he said. “I’d love to have them all back, obviously. We know what this league is about and any time an assistant coach can get a promotion, whether it’s here or someone else, I encourage that. But as I evaluate and look, we’re only three days removed from the season, so everything’s still fresh in my mind, too, so we’re still evaluating and all my coaches are in that evaluation process as well.”

But … you just said Groh and Walch will definitely be back.

“I know what I said,” Pederson said. “Yes. But at the same time I’m still evaluating the whole process, right? They are still currently here. And I’m going to continue to evaluate and assemble the best staff moving forward. But yes, they are still here.”

Later in the day, the Eagles clarified Pederson's comments, emphasizing that Pederson and Schwartz have a strong relationship and that Pederson does want Schwartz back if he doesn't get Cleveland job, he was just trying to express his support for Schwartz as a potential head coach.

Pederson and executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman met with the media Wednesday for the first time since the Eagles’ season ended with a home wild-card loss to the Seahawks.

Pederson did say he’s not averse to bringing in an outside offensive coach to serve as a consultant without coaching a specific position, much the same way the Eagles brought in Matt Burke this past offseason as a defensive special assistant. Burke had served five years under Schwartz with the Titans when Schwartz was their defensive coordinator.

“Everything’s on the table,” Pederson said. “I’m not opposed to doing something like that. I actually thought, even thought my first year, as a rookie head coach, to maybe bring in someone who has a different perspective, different eyes. Those are things I continue to look at.”

It's tricky trying to make sense of what Pederson said, but it sure sounds like Groh will be back. 

Schwartz? His future doesn't seem so clear at all.

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Jim Schwartz leaving Eagles would be a big loss

Jim Schwartz leaving Eagles would be a big loss

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 
Takeaways: 9th
Sacks: 12th 

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.

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