Schwartz may be crazy enough for a sensible Eagles plan
Corey Graham wants to make one thing clear:
He wasn’t in the group.
Nope, he wasn’t one of the players that picked up current Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz when he had the same job with the Buffalo Bills and his defense helped beat the team he used to be the head coach of, the Detroit Lions.
“That wasn’t me, just to let you know,” Graham said with a chuckle. “I was not part of that. I didn’t approve of a regular season game carrying a coach off like we just won the Super Bowl. But it was big for him, obviously going back to Detroit; he felt some type of way about the situation, how it ended there.”
Ahhh, Jim Schwartz. A big character when he was coaching the Lions. Some might even say a crazy character. He may even be a bigger character on Super Bowl Sunday, because it’s his job to come up with the game plan to try to limit Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense.
Can he do it? He’s got a defense that has a strong,deep front four that pressures the quarterback and allows the secondary to roam and make plays. Maybe it takes a crazy plan to beat the Patriots, but Schwartz doesn’t usually create those. He keeps it simple, which his players say means he could up with the right plan.
“Honestly, because his defense allows guys to play fast,” Graham said. “We’re not doing any crazy, exotic blitzes or anything like that. We’re going to have our front four, we’re going to get pressure on them, and when all is said and done, we’re going to have guys in coverage that can run around, fly around and play fast.
“You’ve got to have guys who are knowing what they’re doing when they’re playing against (Brady). With Schwartz’s defense it makes it a lot easier on us; it’s very simple and guys can play fast.”
His players love him. If he was a hockey player, you can bet he’d be called “Schwartzie” on a regular basis.
“He plays to our strengths,” former Patriots and current Eagle defensive end Chris Long said. “He’s not a guy that’s going to over-complicate when you don’t need to; don’t re-invent the wheel and call a bunch of crazy stuff. He knows we’ve got good players. He’s a smart guy, man, he really is. He’s a players coach.”
Schwartz likes the Eagles’ underdog mentality. He grew up in Baltimore, 90 miles south of the City of Brotherly Love, close enough to understand the Philly mentality, and likes the Eagles’ resiliency. It’s just the question of that quality being able to help overcome an offense led by the greatest QB of all time. “If that (resiliency) represents the city of Philadelphia, we’re proud to do it.”
He loves this stuff, you can tell, playing up to tough guy, feisty mentality that the Eagles have. But is he confident his plan is the right one?
“We’re confident in ourselves, too,” Schwartz said. “They’re going to have to come up with a game plan to defend us also. So that works both ways. We’re certainly going to take into account what they do well … But again, we can’t get too far from our own personality. We have to play the way that we played that’s gotten us to this point.”
That’s football speak for yeah, we can do it, because our defense is pretty darn good. The regular season and first two playoff games proved it.
“There’s a big spotlight in those games also,” Schwartz said. “Our team has proven the stage hasn’t been too big for them. It’s the only thing you can go on. We all have a job to do. Our players understand that. I think we’re resilient. We gave a touchdown on the first drive (in the NFC Championship Game.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has lauded Schwartz a few times in the last week. Schwartz was a research assistant and scout under Belichick in Cleveland from 1993-95. Belichick has a defensive game plan from the Giants Super Bowl win over Buffalo in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Patriots fans don’t want to see Schwartz get that same accolade, for certain.
“We were on the right track in Cleveland,” Schwartz said. “Bill Belichick was on the right track. But we didn’t have short term success. … But the things were doing, things that probably propelled him to so many Super Bowl victories and has him as the greatest coach in the history of the NFL, he was doing all those things in Cleveland.”
Schwartz is said to have a ton of autonomy in Philly, with head coach Doug Pederson, they say, hardly looking at the defense. Thus, does he want to be a head coach again? There was talk the Giants were briefly interested in him, but that job is filled and he’s likely not going anywhere.
“I respect this game so much, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,” Schwartz said. “Everybody’s goal is to win a championship, and I think that’s my No. 1 goal. I’ve worn a lot of hats in the NFL, and never won a Super Bowl. That’s taken my full attention this week. … I think you appreciate every day in this league.”
Will Eagles fans appreciate Jim Schwartz a lot more after Sunday night? We’ll see. He may be crazy sometimes – crazy like a fox.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, email@example.com., or @Telegraph_TomK.