Believe it or not, we’ve come to the end of yet another season of Philadelphia Eagles football. This one felt like it flew by pretty fast. There were peaks and valleys — remember Week 3? — and lots to process.
We’re starting the compartmentalization process this week by conducting a series of year-end approval polls. Before what promises to be a formative offseason, how do Eagles fans feel about the people in charge of the team?
We conclude today with the team’s defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz.
This was Schwartz’s first year back in a coaching role after taking 2015 off following his one-year stint with the Bills. He was given autonomy over the Eagles’ defense by Doug Pederson, and he installed a wide-nine-rushing system in which the team’s defense would avoid too much blitzing and instead rely on its talent up front — the likes of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Bennie Logan — to get home on the quarterback on their own.
There were mixed results. The season started incredibly, with the Birds’ defense allowing just nine points per game in their first three games of the season and forcing six turnovers. Schwartz’s unit held the Steelers’ high-flying offense, admittedly handicapped by a lack of Le’Veon Bell, to three points and absolutely annihilated Ben Roethlisberger all afternoon.
Then reality slowly crept in, and, as the Eagles’ season started to crumble, so did the defense’s production.
In an eight-game stretch from Week 8 to Week 15, Eagles opponents averaged 26.3 points per game, and Schwartz’s defense forced just nine turnovers in those eight games. The Eagles lost seven of those eight games. They allowed at least 26 points in seven of those eight games; in the eighth, they kept the best offense in the league, that of the Atlanta Falcons, and they won 24-15.
Strangely, the team’s shoddy secondary (likely due to defensive line performances) played its best statistical games against some of the most prolific quarterbacks in the league.
- Ben Roethlisberger: 272.8 pass yards/game
- Matt Ryan: 309 pass yards/game
- Matthew Stafford: 270.4 pass yards/game
- Joe Flacco: 269.8 pass yards/game
In the four games against those quarterbacks this year, the Eagles’ defense allowed just 207.5 pass yards per game.
In the end, the numbers weren’t bad. The Eagles finished 10th in the league with 26 takeaways, including picking up 10 in the last five games after going 0-for against the Packers and Seahawks.
It’s clear the Eagles need substantially better personnel at the cornerback positions. They seem to have a decent amount of talent elsewhere, however, and Jim Schwartz is a smart man. It was an average first year of his reign. Things should be better in 2017.
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.