Coaching 101 with Jim Schwartz

John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Jim Schwartz was a good coach on Tuesday.

There are thousands of wannabees around the Delaware Valley with access to $99 for NFL Game Pass who will dispute that, comfortable in the self-aggrandizing fantasy that they know more about defensive football than the guy Bill Belichick himself put on the fast track 27 years ago.

Blinded by emotion and passion for the team they think they have a beat on, each and every one of them came for their pound of Nate Gerry flesh with the film clips to back it up.

What they found was Schwartz falling on his shield and protecting every one of his players who were routed by Sean McVay, Jared Goff, and the Los Angeles Rams offense last Sunday.

“I had a poor game plan," said the Eagles defensive coordinator. "We had a very simple game plan. ... The Rams use a lot of tempo out of their huddle, a lot of different motions, and things like that.

"The whole theme was to make it as simple as we could, and we’ve had success with that in the past. But in an effort to do that, I also created a lot of conflict with what the guys were doing — it gave them a lot of stuff to look at.”

The veteran DC had a folksy way to describe his counterintuitive point.

“Chase two rabbits, catch none,” he said.

Social media was further incensed when Schwartz protected his linebackers, an obvious deficiency on this Howie Roseman-assembled roster.

"I'm very confident in our players," Schwartz responded when asked if his LBs were good enough. "I look at most of the plays in that game as I need to put them in better situations."

Emotion often obfuscates the obvious. Seth Joyner and Bill Bergey aren't suiting up in Week 3 against Cincinnati so what does tearing down the confidence of Gerry, Duke Riley or T.J. Edwards accomplish?

Like his original mentor Belichick, Schwartz is prone to teach lessons at the podium and the fact it's a virtual one these days via Zoom hasn't affected that.

On Tuesday is was Coaching 101, something the Game-Pass warriors can take as a passive regressive shot at their hobbies.

"Anybody can go on Madden and copy schemes, go to Wikipedia, do that kind of stuff," said Schwartz. "That's not coaching. Coaching is understanding your players, what they do well, adjusting to the ebbs and flows of the season, those kinds of things."

Schwartz is still feeling his way without veterans like Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham in his back seven.

"I don't know where we are right now," he said. "I know last year at some time I had checked, we don't give up 30 points very much. At one point, again I don't know where it is right now, we were number one in giving up 30 points a game, meaning the fewest times we had given up 30 points.

"That sort of is my delineation of NFL and then a poor game. You give up 30 points, I don't think you can point to anything that you did well. You guys know, I always feel like if we can keep it under 20, we've really done a good job. Twenty to 30, it falls into the NFL."

Leadership, managing personalities, and understanding the talent you've been provided trumps scheme and always will. Until any critic can get to that point taking shots at coaches from afar is the ceiling in the industry.

"I always felt like I had a pretty good finger on the pulse of our guys. I need to do a better job of that," said Schwartz. "I need to figure out what our personality is."

And that's an ever-evolving thing with the constant turnover from year to year in the NFL.

"What we did good last year, the things that we did well against the Rams two years ago, didn't necessarily carry over to this year," said Schwartz. "Every year is going to be different. You're going to have a different personality, things that you're really good at, things that maybe you thought you were going to be good at that you aren't."

Solving that equation in the goal of any good coach.

"I think that's probably more of a hallmark of coaching rather than scribbling on a piece of paper and coming up with a blitz or coverage scheme that does something," Schwartz said. "It's more on a personal level, more on a human level."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM and every Monday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SportsMap Radio. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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