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