PHILADELPHIA – Jim Schwartz may have been the first to feel the tremors of the impending Eagles’ earthquake, so the veteran defensive coordinator decided not to wait for the ground to split wide open and got out while some traction was still available.
Schwartz released a somewhat open-ended statement after the 2020 season when he stepped down as Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, implying he wasn’t sure what the future held, but would, at the age of 54, contemplate retirement.
The ruminating didn't last long and Schwartz was named a senior defensive assistant by the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday, the same team he was with for a decade (1999-2008) and the DC with from 2001-2008.
The veteran coach was brought in to help the Titans' new DC, the 34-year-old Shane Bowen.
"We are excited to add Jim to our staff," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. "He has a deep level of football knowledge and has overseen a great deal of success on the defensive side of the ball, so it is always good to add a quality coach to our staff. This role will provide our defensive staff with Jim's experience and perspective in the staff meetings and on the practice field."
Schwartz’s defense in Philadelphia wasn’t always the most consistent, though it did a good job in points allowed – the most important measurable in Schwartz’s opinion – and rushing yards allowed.
In his five seasons of work with the Eagles, his defenses averaged 21.8 points per game, which was good for the ninth-best in the league during that span, and 99.1 rushing yards, which was good for third.
Schwartz had his favorites, without question: Jalen Mills, Nate Gerry, and Nigel Bradham were three.
His role as someone who persuaded GM Howie Roseman to make personnel decisions was probably overstated a bit, at least in terms of the draft.
There’s no question, though, he had a hand in bringing in players such as Stephen Tulloch and Zach Brown, neither of whom had much success in their short stays.
One knock on Schwartz, and it is concerning as the Eagles prepare their roster for the 2021 season, is his lack of trust in playing younger players.
Look at what it took to get Alex Singleton on the field full time.
Gerry had to suffer a season-ending injury for it to happen. Had he been able to return it would have been interesting to see whether or not he would have stayed with Singleton or gone back to Gerry.
The young linebackers on the roster – Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley – rarely saw defensive snaps with Schwartz opting instead to play Duke Riley and even T.J. Edwards, who may have been more effective with fewer reps.
Taylor, a third-round pick, played 32 defensive snaps all year. Bradley, a sixth-round selection, played 76.
Then when injury struck at the safety position, and Rodney McLeod tore an ACL in Week 14, rookie fourth-rounder pick K’Von Wallace played just 23 and 19 snaps in the first two games without McLeod while starting only one of those games.
Wallace started the season finale and played a season-high 63 snaps, but that had more to do with Jalen Mills having to sit out after being placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week, leaving the Eagles severely depleted in the secondary against the Washington Football Team.
It stands to reason that Taylor, Bradley, and Wallace will be given greater opportunity this fall to prove themselves – or prove that Schwartz was right about them and they deserved not to be trusted.
That would call into question, yet again, Roseman’s ability to draft quality players but that’s an ongoing story.
The story now is Schwartz is gone and found his footing with another organization very quickly after not allowing himself to be buried in the rubble of what was to come after he resigned – the firing of Doug Pederson and the trading of Carson Wentz.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.