February 01, 2019
Over the last couple of weeks, we've taken a look at the Eagles' roster, position by position, and determined who is going to stay with the team in 2019, and who will go. In case you're late to the series, you can catch up here:
Previous stay or go positional analysis
Earlier in the week, we looked at Doug Pederson's follow-up season after winning the Super Bowl. Today we'll look at the coordinators.
To begin, this is already moot. Pederson already stated that Jim Schwartz will return as the team's defensive coordinator, and Mike Groh will continue on as the team's offensive coordinator. So they're both staying. Here we'll look at the seasons each coach had.
It astounded me that in the aftermath of the Eagles' playoff loss to the Saints, fans were calling for Schwartz's head. That was an utterly insane reaction to the way that game played out. The Eagles were already missing five defensive starters heading into that matchup, and throughout the game they also lost Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and Rasul Douglas at various points. And still, Schwartz's defense held the best offense in the NFL to 20 points.
Excluding a meaningless Week 17 game, the Saints previously scored 40, 21, 43, 45, 48, 31, 31, and 23 points in their other home games this season.
Schwartz is among the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. Here are his DVOA rankings when he has just focused on the defense, since 2007:
Understandably, the Eagles' defense wasn't elite when the Eagles' secondary had become so depleted that Schwartz was forced to start guys like DeVante Bausby and Chandon Sullivan. Here's a look at how many games his players missed this season, including the playoffs:
• Rodney McLeod: 15 games.
• Timmy Jernigan: 13 games.
• Derek Barnett: 12 games.
• Jalen Mills: 10 games.
• Ronald Darby: 9 games.
• Sidney Jones: 9 games.
• Josh Sweat: 5 games.
• Jordan Hicks: 4 games.
• Avonte Maddox: 3 games.
• Haloti Ngata: 3 games.
• Corey Graham: 3 games.
• Nigel Bradham: 1 game.
To finish in the top half of the league in DVOA despite that carnage is no small feat.
Schwartz isn't perfect. I believe there are reasonable quibbles with his soft zone looks on third down at times, and well as his sometimes complete abandonment of the blitz. And certainly, there is the rare game in which he is out-coached, as Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic pointed out in a great piece after the Titans game this season.
But ultimately, Schwartz's results speak for themselves, and the way he was able to keep the defense afloat in 2018 despite an insane rash of injuries was impressive.
Groh is a much more difficult evaluation, given that it's Pederson's offense, whereas Schwartz has total control over the defense.
I do think it's fair to point out that the Eagles lost a hell of an offensive coordinator in Frank Reich, who has turned out to be a damn good head coach as well. The contributions from Reich and John DeFilippo were well documented last season, as the Eagles were dominant on third down and in the red zone.
As we pointed out in the piece on Pederson, the Eagles did not game plan for opponents as well as they had in 2017, as first quarter scoring was WAAAAAY down:
Certainly, that was to be expected to some degree with Carson Wentz being unready to play to start the season, and being hampered by knee and back injuries, not to mention a slew of injuries to the Eagles' skill position players. Still, the degree to which the offense stalled early in games in comparison to 2017 was noticeable to even the most novice of observers.
In fairness, the offense picked up later in the season under Nick Foles, who simply ran the offense as designed without getting too cute, and that's probably what saved Groh from being one-and-done.
#JimmySays: Stay, but I do think the Eagles need to add personnel with ideas to the offensive staff.
Green = Stay
Red = Go
Orange = Will be back in camp in 2019, but a roster spot is not guaranteed
(Note: Some mobile versions will not display colors.)
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