PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles will definitely have a new defensive coordinator in 2016.
It may be Jim Schwartz, the former Detroit Lions head coach who arrived in Philadelphia on Monday to talk with new head coach Doug Pederson. Pederson’s hiring was announced Monday. He will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday.
The choice of Pederson hearkens back to Philadelphia's hiring of Andy Reid in 1999. Reid’s primary hire upon getting the job was defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Under Johnson, the Eagles' defense was well ahead of Reid’s offense for the first several years of their collaboration.
If Pederson is looking to replicate that dynamic, he could do worse than Schwartz. The 49-year-old Schwartz broke into the NFL as an assistant with Bill Belichick in Cleveland. He became a defensive coordinator under Jeff Fisher in Tennessee in 2002.
Schwartz was hired as head coach of the Lions in 2009. He was fired after five seasons and a 29-51 record. He spent one season as defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills under Doug Marrone. When Marrone resigned at the end of 2014, Schwartz took a position in the NFL office, providing a coach’s perspective to the league’s officials.
In his one season with Buffalo, Schwartz took the Bills' defense from 19th overall in yards allowed to fourth. The Bills led the NFL with 54 sacks and were fourth in scoring, allowing 18.1 points per game.
Schwartz’s scheme uses the “Wide 9” alignment that Eagles fans became all too familiar with in 2011. Schwartz uses the alignment, which places defensive ends well outside the offensive tackles, only in certain situations. The Eagles’ use of it under defensive line coach Jim Washburn was roundly criticized, but that was due to their personnel and the scheme’s vulnerability against the run.
Washburn was Schwartz’s defensive line coach in Tennessee, but stayed with the Titans when Schwartz went on to coach the Lions. Washburn joined the Eagles in 2011, but was fired midway through the 2012 season.
Schwartz’s base defenses have been 4-3 schemes. The Eagles ran a 3-4 defense under Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis, but many of their better defensive players have experience in the 4-3 scheme. Defensive ends Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry should be especially comfortable fits in Schwartz’s scheme.