The Eagles won’t have to make a decision on the fate of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz when the season ends late Sunday night against the Washington Football Team.
Schwartz has decided to allow his contract to expire, per a league source.
According to NFL Media, Schwartz, 54, has told those close to him that he will take a year off and contemplate retirement after a 32-year career, including 28 in the NFL.
Schwartz was one of the first hires on Doug Pederson’s staff in 2016, and he helped shape a defense that won the Eagles’ first Super Bowl in their history in 2017.
Lately, though, Schwartz has come under fire for his inability to adjust his scheme to fit the strengths of their players, and his unit has given up back-to-back 500-plus yard games in the previous two weeks.
Pederson was asked on Friday about his relationship with the DC.
“I’ll tell you, our relationship has evolved tremendously,” said the coach. “I think we've been more on the same page over the years, me just getting to know him each year and understanding him as a coach and a coordinator.
“Obviously, his defenses historically have been top defenses in the National Football League. Of course, when guys are healthy and all of that.”
Pederson has brought up injuries as an excuse for a four-win season more and more in recent days, and certainly, it is a big reason for the struggles for Schwartz’s defensive unit, but there is more to it than that.
“Our relationship's been great,” said Pederson. “I think as the season progressed this year, I thought the defense actually was doing some really good things for us and keeping the offense in these football games here down the stretch, creating takeaways and sort of stymieing the run game from our opponents, things of that nature. I think overall it's been really good.”
Pederson himself is also believed to be on the proverbial hot seat, and perhaps Schwartz’s decision could make the seat even hotter with team owner Jeffrey Lurie perhaps choosing to simply clean house from top to bottom,
If Lurie doesn’t go that route, the Eagles have two former defensive coordinators on staff they could turn to in defensive line coach Matt Burke, whose D-line leads the NFL in sacks, and defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel.
Defensive end Brandon Graham, who leads the Eagles in sacks with eight, was asked recently about Schwartz and the season they have had together.
“He’s just been coaching us, doing the same thing that he does,” said defensive end Brandon Graham about Schwartz after Sunday’s 37-17 loss to the Cowboys. “That’s what I would do if I’m about to be done or go out. I’m going to go out being me…It sucks that we didn’t get it done for him this year.
"And I know things always move around. That’s above me. I just know that while he’s here, he’s been a great coach, somebody that I’ve learned from, somebody that always helped us each and every week put us in the right positions.”
Schwartz declined to speak about his future or reflect on the play of his defense in 2020 when he talked to reporters last Tuesday, saying that he wanted to focus on Washington and Sunday night’s game.
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