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September 12, 2017

Eagles DC Jim Schwartz denies any plans to usurp Doug Pederson's power

On Saturday, one day before the Eagles kicked off their 2017 season against the Washington Redskins, a report surfaced suggesting that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is highly regarded at his position, was planning "to usurp power" and take over Pederson's role as the team's coach.

At the very least, the optics aren’t favorable. One Eagles staffer said the only coach who probably doesn’t think Schwartz is trying to undercut Pederson is Pederson. Three players, who requested anonymity, said that it’s become well-known in the locker room that Schwartz is waiting to usurp power.

“He walks around the building like he thinks he’s the head coach,” one player said. []

It's part of the reason why some players decided to give Pederson a Gatorade bath following a Week 1 win over a team they were favored to beat anyway. 

On Tuesday, Schwartz spoke for the first time since Jeff McLane's story was published, and while he said he hasn't read it, he was quick to throw cold water on any speculation that a power struggle is unfolding behind the scenes at the NovaCare Complex.

“I still haven’t read it. Stroh [Eagles PR Director Brett Strohsacker] filled me in on it," Schwartz said. "But I’ll say this – and I say this unequivocally – I am very comfortable with my relationship with Doug Pederson, and I know he’s comfortable with his relationship with me.

“What I do here is, I work extremely hard to execute the defense the way that he has outlined it for me. And I’m very comfortable in that. And not everybody is privy to those instructions. So if anybody misunderstands or misinterprets any actions, just know this: Coach Pederson is aware of everything that I do inside of this building and outside of it. And maybe they’re not privy to it, but I’ll give you an example – this was just a half hour ago. Coach Pederson has a rule in the cafeteria that you can’t wear tank tops or no sleeves in the cafeteria. Well, he wasn’t in the cafeteria, but I was. And there was an offensive player that had no sleeves on. And I tapped him and said, 'You got to get out; you’ve got to put sleeves on.' 

“Now I know when I was a head coach, in that role, I wanted people around who were enforcing my rules. And I did that for him. I respect that position. So I’m going to execute the job in the way he outlined it for me. And I think anything else, we can’t really worry about.”

It's worth pointing out that Schwartz has five years of head coaching experience under his belt (Detroit, 2009-2013). So would it really be surprising if he had aspirations of returning to the top job for an NFL team in the future?

It's also worth noting that Schwartz, who was hired after Pederson, isn't necessarily a Pederson hire. That was made clear when Pederson admitted he didn't know Schwartz all that well before the team hired him to be their defensive coordinator. And according to McLane, it was Howie Roseman who led the way in hiring several assistants, particularly Schwartz. 

However, they've been working side-by-side for 18 months. And a report like this, especially when players are being used as sources, could make for an awkward environment around the team facility.

So did Pederson feel the need to clear the air between he and his defensive coordinator?

"No, I did not," Pederson said Monday. "Jim and I have always had a great relationship, and it was -- I don't know what to tell you. Jim and I have always had a great relationship, and even yesterday, the communication is always there."

As for Schwartz, he understands why his personality might get him into trouble sometimes, but that's part of the reason he was hired in the first place.

“Again, I just know the way Doug outlined the job to me. And it had nothing to do with anything but having my personality, and he embraced that," Schwartz said. "Look, I can be brash. Check. I can be in your face. Check. It’s the only way I know to coach defense. And as long as coach Pederson is fine with it, I’m going to continue that. And he is [comfortable].”

For now, the dynamic between the two seems to be working out just fine, as the Eagles, buoyed by strong play on both sides of the ball, improved to 1-0 with a 30-17 win over the Redskins on Sunday. 

And Pederson doesn't want to see Schwartz change his "brash," "in-your-face" style anytime soon.

"We talk quite a bit, actually, during the week, and I love his enthusiasm," Pederson said. "I love his swagger. I think our defensive guys feed off of that. Most D-coordinators I've been around have that, and he's no different and that's one of the things I like about Jim is the fact that he has it and the guys feed off of that and that's the way they play."

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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