Saturday, January 25, 2014
Follow-up thoughts on Jim Schwartz hire
By Mike Rodak
Offering some follow-up thoughts after the Buffalo Bills hired Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator Friday:
1. In hiring a veteran coach like Schwartz, the Bills are showing an urgency to win now, which should appeal to most fans. Their other option was to hire a less-experienced position coach -- either from their own staff or another team's -- and have him grow into the role over time. In this case, I feel like level of talent on the Bills' defense calls for a more established coach like Schwartz.
2. With that said, the downside of replacing Mike Pettine with Schwartz is the potential for more instability. Schwartz is the Bills' fourth defensive coordinator in as many seasons, and if he performs well could be back on the head-coaching market next winter. That could begin the cycle over again for the Bills, creating more turnover and uncertainty. There might not be as appealing an option as Schwartz available next offseason.
3. Schwartz's arrival means that the Bills will not promote Jim O'Neil or Donnie Henderson to defensive coordinator. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the Cleveland Browns have requested permission to interview O'Neil, who remains under contract with the Bills. From this perspective, it would be poor form for the Bills to try to keep O'Neil in Buffalo with an unfamiliar boss (Schwartz) when he has an opportunity to advance his career under Pettine in Cleveland.
4. The second paragraph of the Bills' news release announcing Schwartz's hire brings to light his success in run defense during his tenure with the Tennessee Titans, when the Titans finished in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game five times in Schwartz's eight seasons. That stands in contrast to the Bills' 28th-ranked run defense this season.
In discussing the potential of Pettine leaving this week at the Senior Bowl, one head coach offered this thought to me: If the Bills' run defense was better, would their passing defense -- it ranked first in completion percentage, second in opposing QBR and fourth in passing yards allowed per game -- have shown as well statistically? It's a good point, but it's also worth noting that offenses relying less on passing would give a defense less chances to sack the quarterback. The Bills finished second this season in sacks, with 57.