Now that we’ve concluded the player section of our Eagles outlook series, we’ve shifted our attention to Philadelphia’s coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is up today. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Offensive tackle | Offensive guard | Center | Defensive end | Defensive tackle | Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Specialists | Special teams coverage and return units | Head coach.
The 2019 Eagles finished 12th overall in defensive DVOA. That’s actually an upgrade from their 15th finish in 2018.
Here’s a look at how Schwartz’s unit finished in some more traditional categories:
|Yards / Game||331.7||347.9||-16.2||10th|
|Yards / Play||5.49||5.48||0.01||17th|
|Rushing Yards / Game||90.1||112.9||-22.8||3rd|
|Rushing Yards / Play||4.08||4.32||-0.24||11th|
|Passing Yards / Game||241.6||235||6.6||19th|
|Passing Yards / Play||6.77||6.74||0.03||16th|
|Sacks / Pass Attempt||7.53%||7.15%||0.38%||12th|
|First Downs / Game||18.1||20.3||-2.2||5th|
|3rd Down Pct||34.15%||39.02%||-4.87%||4th|
|4th Down Pct||61.11%||47.90%||13.21%||27th|
|Red Zone Pct||55.81%||56.64%||-0.83%||t-14th|
|Goal to Go%||70.00%||70.98%||-0.98%||14th|
|Points / Game||22.1||22.8||-0.7||15th|
I feel like those numbers don’t look as bad as you might expect given some of the criticism that Schwartz gets.
This isn't to suggest the Eagles’ defense wasn’t flawed; it was clearly was and we all know it after watching wide receivers repeatedly have huge games against them.
There were some real bad defensive moments in 2019. Back-to-back struggles against the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys resulted in being outscored by a total of 75 to 30. Then the Eagles couldn’t stop Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker from ultimately putting up 37 points on them in Week 13.
But the defense held their own more often than not. Schwatz’s unit allowed 17 or fewer points in eight of the Eagles’ final 10 games. The Eagles only went 6-4 in those games, which should tell you the offense wasn’t living up to their end of the bargain often enough.
Schwartz interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ head coaching job but he didn’t get it. Doug Pederson confirmed that Schwartz will be back for his fifth straight season as Philly’s defensive coordinator.
Schwartz isn’t a perfect DC but he’s definitely a good one. I mean, the Eagles have allowed the fewest home points in the NFL since he was hired back in 2016. Factor in road games and Schwartz’s defenses have allowed the fifth fewest points in the league.
If the Eagles want to see some defensive improvement, it’s up to Howie Roseman to give Schwartz more resources to work with. Such a strategy has worked in the past:
Schwartz Defenses (DVOA Rank - Cap Spend Rank from Spotrac)— Brent Cohen (@EaglesRewind) January 8, 2020
2019: 12th - 21st
2018: 15th - 23rd
2017: 5th - 8th
2016: 4th - 12th
In addition to the lack of cap spending, the Eagles haven’t used a Day 1 or Day 2 draft pick on a defensive player since the 2017 NFL Draft. Tough to demand a great defense without having the proper tools for one.
The Eagles really need to get the cornerback position right this offseason after struggling to do so in the past. Better coverage will help to fix the Eagles’ pass defense issues and ideally generate more turnovers, which is needed.
If the Eagles make the proper investments and the defense is still only average-ish, well, then the gripes about Schwartz will be more fair. Until then, Eagles fans should be content with him as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Jim Schwartz: Stay or go?
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