Today we continue the May 2016 series of Philadelphia Eagles approval polls with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. But instead of "approval" we'll be using the term "confidence" since Schwartz hasn't actually appeared in a game or anything yet. This rating is based on how confident you feel with him leading Philadelphia's defense.
There's no question Schwartz was an exciting hire by the Eagles. He's an accomplished assistant coach in the NFL. He's had a top seven ranked defense in his last three years as a defensive coordinator. His most recent work with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 was very impressive. The Bills ranked fourth overall in points and second in DVOA that season. Football Outsiders had Buffalo's defense only slightly behind the No. 1 ranked Seattle Seahawks.
Schwartz brought a lot of former Bills players with him to Philadelphia. Leodis McKelvin will potentially be the team's starting outside cornerback opposite of Eric Rowe. Nigel Bradham is a starter at SAM linebacker. Defensive back Ron Brooks could see some action in the slot and on special teams.
The Eagles actually had a very good defense at one point in 2015. Philadelphia ranked second overall in DVOA about halfway throughout the season. Then injuries to key players (Jordan Hicks, Bennie Logan) happened, fatigue caused by Chip Kelly's offense set in, and Philadelphia's overall effort became questionable down the stretch.
It's up to Schwartz to motivate his group as they transition out of a 3-4 two-gap scheme back into a 4-3 wide-nine. Fortunately for him he has some talented players to work with in the trenches. Fletcher Cox, who is currently holding out but expected to return to the Eagles at some point, is one of the best young defensive talents in the NFL. Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham are productive pass rushers. Logan is a very solid run-stuffer.
It'll be interesting to see how the linebacker fit in the new scheme. WIL linebacker Mychal Kendricks played in the 4-3 as a rookie. Hicks is now the MIKE after excelling as an inside linebacker last year. As we already noted, Bradham played well for Schwartz in Buffalo.
Then there's the secondary. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod combine to form what's arguably the best safety duo in the league. Those players offer a great mix of coverage skill and big hitting ability. Cornerback is an area of concern. Rowe showed potential as a rookie but needs to take a leap in Year 2. McKelvin needs to stay healthy after battling injury issues in recent years.
Overall, Schwartz has a good group to work with. It's not a perfectly finished product but it's a very nice starting point. The Eagles' defense is expected to be the strength of the team this year. This unit should prevent Philadelphia's suspect offense from totally tanking the season.
Are you confident in Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles? Vote now in the poll below and leave your thoughts in the comments.
Schwartz Approval Polls: