The Eagles will need to hire a new defensive coordinator with Jim Schwartz deciding to move on and contemplate retirement following Sunday’s night game against the Washington Football Team.
That puts the Eagles in the market for a replacement.
Here are some potential candidates:
Matt Burke. With the decision to bring back Doug Pederson, an in-house candidate makes sense, especially one with close ties to Schwartz, who was well-respected by the Eagles’ front office.
He spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins before being fired following the 2018 season. Schwartz reached out to him and brought him as a defensive special assistant
“I have a long history with him and a relationship going back to 2004,” said Burke this past summer. “(Schwartz) said, ‘Hey I’d love you to come in and put a new set of eyes on this.’ We were together for the first 10 years of my career, then I went to Cincinnati then Miami.”
In 2019, the Eagles’ defense forced the highest percentage of opponent three-and-out drives (27.5 percent) and third in rushing defense and fourth in third-down defense.
After the season, the Eagles gave Burke a new title – defensive line coach and offensive run game coordinator.
His defensive line leads the NFL in sacks.
Marquand Manuel. Another in-house candidate, Manuel spent his only season with the Eagles coaching the defensive backs, but he spent two years as the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, from 2017-18. He was Atlanta’s DB coach in 2016, a season in which they reached the Super Bowl.
Joe Barry. Currently, the Rams’ assistant head coach/linebacker coach, the 50-yard-old Barry has some solid defensive coordinator experience. He was the DC the last time the Washington Football Team won the NFC East in 2015 when his defense had 26 takeaways and finished in the top 10 in sacks.
He also spent two years as the Lions’ defensive coordinator, from 2007-08. Detroit was third in takeaways that year and a pair of his linebackers, Ernie Sims and Paris Lenon had 115 tackles each.
This year’s Rams team is the No. 1 ranked defensive unit and has 21 takeaways.
Bringing in someone like Barry, who has done a good job at developing linebackers, may trigger a change in how the Eagles feel about that level of the defense, and maybe put them in the conversation to take Penn State’s Micah Parsons, considered the top LB coming out of college, in the first round of the draft.
Peter Giunta. The 64-year-old veteran coach has done wonders with the New Orleans Saints’ secondary, where he has served as a senior defensive assistant since 2016. He has helped develop CB Marshon Lattimore.
In 2018, the Saints’ DBs had 12 interceptions and had nine in 2019. They are a very aggressive unit, forcing fumbles (9 in 2018, 6 in 2019) and getting sacks from that level of the defense.
This year, the Saints’ defense is ranked third overall with 13 interceptions and 21 takeaways.
Guinta was the Eagles’ DBs coach from 1991-94.
Jim Leonhard. A longshot for sure, the Wisconsin DC/DB coach since 2017, he played 10 years as a defensive back, mostly as a safety, he played 142 games in the NFL in a career that began as an undrafted free agent in 2004.
The Badgers’ defense has consistently been one of the best during Leonhard’s time in Madison.
Over his first four seasons, the Badgers ranked third in scoring defense (17.2 points per game), fourth in total yards allowed (297.9 yards per game), fifth in rushing defense (112.3 ypg), and fifth in pass efficiency defense (109.0). Wisconsin forced the second-most turnovers of any FBS team during that span, with 104, and the Badgers’ 68 interceptions also ranked No. 2 nationally.
In 2019, Leonhard’s unit posted four shutouts - the first Big Ten team to do so since 1962 - and set a school record by allowing opponents to convert just 27.2 percent of their third-down attempts.
Jay Bateman. A very longshot, but as the defensive coordinator of Army West Point for five years his work cannot be overlooked.
In 2016, Bateman led a defense that ranked fourth nationally in total defense (291.5 ypg), including sixth against the pass (170.2 ypg) and 18th versus the run (121.2 ypg). The defensive unit also ranked 16th in scoring defense, allowing 19 points per game, while increasing its interception total from six in 2015 to 17 in 2016. Bateman’s success was noticed around the country as he was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award for the nation's top assistant.
Since 2018, he has been the co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach at the University of North Carolina.
In his first season at Carolina, Bateman helped engineer a number of improvements in the Tar Heel defense, which was one of the nation’s top five most improved units in total defense, scoring defense, and rushing defense.
In 2005, he was the defensive line coach at Lehigh, which was part of a defense that ended the year ranked sixth overall in the country.
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