So much for a drama-free start to the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2017 season.
The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane put out an interesting story early on Saturday morning that had some interesting information about Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. According to McLane, there’s a sense in Philadelphia’s organization that Schwartz is aiming for Pederson’s head coaching job.
At the very least, the optics aren’t favorable. One Eagles staffer said the only coach who probably doesn’t think Schwartz is trying to undercut Pederson is Pederson. Three players, who requested anonymity, said that it’s become well-known in the locker room that Schwartz is waiting to usurp power.
“He walks around the building like he thinks he’s the head coach,” one player said.
McLane notes how former NFL general manager Mike Lombardi, who unleashed harsh criticism about Pederson’s qualifications earlier this week, has professional and personal ties to Schwartz. Lombardi denied his Pederson criticism was influenced by the Eagles coordinator, but he did admit he’s friends with Schwartz.
I have a few thoughts on this report.
- Schwartz could very well be itching for another head coaching opportunity. Whether that’s in Philadelphia or elsewhere, it’d be a little surprising to see him merely content with being a defensive coordinator for the rest of his career.
- I do think it’s worth noting how Pederson didn’t really hire Schwartz. As McLane notes: “Roseman, though, led the way on hiring many of the coaches – in particular, Schwartz.” When Pederson was hired, he admitted he didn’t really know Schwartz personally before the defensive coordinator was hired by the Eagles. The fact that Pederson didn’t really hire his own staff makes you wonder exactly how much power he really has.
- I’ve joked around before that Jim Schwartz should be called “GM Schwartz” given how much influence he’s seemingly had over the Eagles’ personnel moves. Just look at how many former Schwartz players Philadelphia has signed since his arrival (Nigel Bradham, Ron Brooks, Leodis McKelvin, Stephen Tulloch, Corey Graham). Also look at how many resources Philadelphia has dumped into their defensive line. Schwartz believes in generating pressure with the front four and the Eagles have really prioritized that position group. The team gave a $100 million contract to Fletcher Cox. They swapped third round picks with the Ravens this year to acquire Tim Jernigan. They spent a first round pick on Derek Barnett. They signed Chris Long in free agency. And so on. Schwartz’s personnel influence is a reflection of the power he holds in the building.
- It’s fair to wonder just how committed the Eagles are to Pederson. As I wrote back when Pederson was hired, Philadelphia’s head coaching search was very flawed. That might not matter and Pederson might end up working out. But if he doesn’t, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised if he has a short leash.
- I’ve battled with two different thoughts about Pederson’s job security heading into this year. On one hand, I don’t think the Eagles would fire him because that would mean a whole new coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover to go through again. The instability wouldn’t be favorable to Carson Wentz. However, maybe the Eagles planned it so that if Pederson doesn’t work out, they have an internal replacement(s) ready to step up in his place. Schwartz, who last served as a head coach in 2013, just might be the backup plan.
- It’s too early to start digging Pederson’s grave just yet. Though he might not be the most qualified coach ever, the team wasn’t a disaster with him at head coach last year. The Birds went 7-9 while tied for the ninth best point differential. There’s ample reason to believe the Eagles will improve this season, thus ensuring Pederson’s job security.
- But if Pederson and the Eagles do struggle this year ... well, maybe these reports about Schwartz wanting to take over will only grow louder. The pressure is on Pederson to perform.