Eagles: Firing Jim Schwartz at season’s end won’t fix this defense

The ‘we need to fire Jim Schwartz’ narrative has lingered around the Eagles fan base for the better part of the past three seasons. Every time there’s a missed tackle, every time the defense fails to get off the field on third down, every time anything bad happens on that side of the ball, all of the blame tends to fall at Schwartz’s feet.

To be clear, some of that criticism is justified. I hate the prevent defense Schwartz likes to run on third and longs — I think we’d all prefer a more aggressive approach in those situations. But let’s not act like firing Schwartz is going to miraculously fix this defense.

For the record, Schwartz’s defense has far outplayed the offense this season. They’re currently 11th in total yardage allowed, 5th in passing yards allowed, 25th in rushing yards allowed, 14th in points allowed, and tied for 3rd in sacks. The defense has struggled at causing turnovers, but maybe that’s more so because they lack any kind of elite talent in their secondary outside of Darius Slay.

Speaking of Slay, notice how much better the pass defense is now that Schwartz has a legit corner he can count on. In 2019 they finished the season as the 19th ranked pass defense, and the year before that they were 30th. This year they’ve been a top-5 unit against the pass, believe it or not.

It’s not hard to see how much better Schwartz’s defensive scheme is when he actually has adequate talent. His defense is top-5 in sacks, and they have the highest paid defensive line in football. They’ve struggled against the run, but the team doesn’t have a linebacker on the roster with a cap hit over $1 million. Any defensive coordinator would struggle to get average play out of this linebacking unit.

Compare the talent at Schwartz’s disposal on the defensive side of the ball to the talent Doug Pederson has on offense. He has one of the highest paid quarterbacks in football, a ton of money spread across his entire offensive line (although injuries have hurt that unit a bit), the wide receiving corps is arguably the best its been since Pederson has become the head coach, and he has three tight ends that could start for a number of teams across the league (Ertz, Goedert, and Rodgers). Yet, the offense is one of the worst in football this season.

Scapegoating Schwartz for this team’s ineptitude would be a mistake. We’ve seen that same type of scapegoating play out here in Philly before, when Sean McDermott was fired after just one season as the team’s defensive coordinator in favor of a lifelong offensive line coach. That was an obvious miscalculation at the time, and it’s even more evident now.

The real problems with this team reside on the offensive side of the football. I’d hate to see the organization rid themselves of Schwartz, still neglect that side of the ball during the offseason, and then think everything is just going to change. That’s not how it works, but it seems like the majority of Eagles fans lean in that direction.

In 2017, when Schwartz had solid talent all over his defense, the Eagles were the 4th best overall defense in football. He’s not just some bum who is in over his head here. Schwartz has been around the league for awhile, and if the Eagles decide to part ways with him, he’ll get another job within a month.


  1. An article about the Eagles and not a single mention of their totally one-dimensional running game? True, they just brought back Jordan Howard, who figures to be promoted to the active roster the soon as he clears the COVID-19 protocol – and the 2021 draft is loaded with power RB types, in stark contrast to 2020, when only one such RB was selected in the entire draft (A.J. Dillon). Obtaining one of these RBs is one of the top off-season priorities, after linebacker and the offensive line, which has to be considered an area of pressing need since the Eagles are allowing the most sacks in the league, and neither Brandon Brooks nor Andre Dillard are any lock to just come back from their catastrophic injuries as if nothing had happened.

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