Jim Schwartz

Browns DC Jim Schwartz Interested In HC Opportunities

The Lions have clinched a playoff spot for the first time in six years. Before this dry spell, which is a relatively short one for the Detroit fans, the Lions made three playoff appearances in six years. That run started with a 2011 season behind then head coach Jim Schwartz, who currently resides as the defensive coordinator for the Browns. Schwartz was fired two years later and has yet to hold a head coaching position since. That doesn’t mean the goal is out of mind for the Cleveland assistant.

In a recent interview, Schwartz made his desires known for the future, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “You always aspire to the top of the profession,” Schwartz told the media, “and I’m not different there.”

Schwartz first achieved that pinnacle of the sport after an extended tenure in Tennessee. After serving three years as a personnel scout in Cleveland and three more as an outside linebackers coach in Baltimore, Schwartz took a defensive assistant position with the Titans and was promoted to linebackers coach a year later. After a year coaching linebackers, he was promoted once again to defensive coordinator, a role he would hold for eight seasons before getting his first head coaching opportunity.

Schwartz faced an extremely difficult task in his first gig, inheriting Rod Marinelli‘s infamous 0-16 2008 Lions squad. Alongside rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford, Schwartz would chip away at what would ultimately end as a 12-year playoff drought, winning two games in his first year and six in his second. Detroit would earn a Wild Card spot with a 10-6 record in Schwartz’s third year before falling to the Saints in the first round of the playoffs. The team would regress in the next two seasons, failing to make the playoffs in either year.

Since then, Schwartz has done nothing but lead top NFL defenses. In his first year post-Detroit, Schwartz led a Bills defense that finished fourth in both points and yards allowed. Two years later Schwartz began the turnaround of one of the league’s worst defensive units in Philadelphia. In only his second year on the job, Schwartz had taken a defense that was bottom-five before his arrival and helped them to finish fourth in points and yards allowed during their 2017 Super Bowl run.

In 2020, Schwartz would resign from his position due to health issues and decided to step away from his usual role as a coordinator, accepting a senior defensive assistant position back in his old home in Tennessee. The Browns hired Schwartz a year ago in hopes that he would be able to take their defense from average to great, and he delivered in a big way. While an unproductive offense at times this year put the defense in bad situations and added points to the board for the other team, Cleveland’s defensive unit has allowed the fewest yards in the NFL by a large margin.

Having delivered in multiple locations, turning around poor defenses in short amounts of time, it’s no surprise now that Schwartz is garnering head coaching interest, once again. And while Schwartz appears to be happy in Cleveland, the lure of leading a team is strong. If the right situation presents itself, we may see Schwartz take a second opportunity to make a name as a head coach in the NFL.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Monken, Ravens

With Jim Schwartz returning to Cleveland after 28 years, then as a scout, now as defensive coordinator, there are some expected changes to how the Browns‘ defense will get things done. Thanks to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, we have a bit of insight into just how things might change in the secondary under Schwartz.

At safety, the team exchanged starter John Johnson III with Juan Thornhill while also bringing in veteran Rodney McLeod, as well. Schwartz brings two interesting factors to the safety position: he likes to play three at one time often and he expects versatility. He doesn’t strictly prescribe to free and strong safety assignments but more often tends to focus on sides of the field. Grant Delpit, Thornhill, and McLeod will be interchangeable and will be asked to line up in many areas.

Versatility will be expected of the cornerbacks, as well, as Schwartz has reportedly been crosstraining all of Cleveland’s defensive backs in the slot. This is welcome news for Greg Newsome II, who reportedly wanted to play more to his strengths on the outside this year. He won’t solely work outside, but with Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson also getting work as nickelbacks this summer, Newsome won’t be asked to shoulder the load in the slot alone.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC North:

  • Schwartz is excited to be bringing together two strong pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith on the Browns’ defensive line, according to Cabot. After a year in which Jadeveon Clowney failed to mesh with Garrett, Schwartz is excited about the flexibility that Smith brings to the table. For one, he’s already had the experience of working across from talented pass rushers like Danielle Hunter, Preston Smith, Matt Judon, Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil. Secondly, Smith provides a versatile attack that allows him to rush from either side, as well as from the interior, when needed.
  • After four years under a huddle-first Greg Roman offense, the Ravens will allow quarterback Lamar Jackson a bit more agency in the offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. According to a report from ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Jackson will be given more freedom to audible and make adjustments at the line this season. This is not completely foreign to the recently extended quarterback. Baltimore experimented with this type of offense in a Week 2 game last year against the Dolphins as a counter to Miami’s pressure package. In that game, Jackson threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns while adding 119 yards and a touchdown on the ground, as well. The Ravens will hope to see more of that in 2023, as Jackson is presented with more opportunities to truly lead the offense.
  • We mentioned about two weeks ago that Ravens second-year tackle Daniel Faalele was a candidate to replace former starting left guard Ben Powers, who departed for Denver in free agency in March. Knowing Faalele’s importance in his current role as one of the team’s primary backup tackles, we boiled it down to a battle between Ben Cleveland and John Simpson. A recent report from Hensley, though, claims that head coach John Harbaugh spoke highly of Faalele at the position and refused to rule him out as a potential starter. He praised Simpson’s performance in the position, as well, but it may be time to start considering Faalele as one of the top candidates to start next year.

Coaching Rumors: Payton, Flores, Evero

By far the biggest name on this year’s coaching carousel, Sean Payton looks to have seen his momentum stall a bit. While Payton is interviewing with the Cardinals today, his candidacy has not produced a second interview anywhere yet. The Panthers met with Payton this week but just hired Frank Reich. While the Texans remain on the radar for the longtime Saints HC, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com does not get the sense much momentum is present for such a partnership. The Broncos have been connected to other names recently as well, but that path may be dwindling as well. There might not be a place for Payton — as odd as that sounds, given his track record — on this year’s market, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com offers (video link)

Trade compensation being required to land the Super Bowl XLIV-winning HC, with the price varying from a first-rounder and other early picks to two first-rounders, has affected teams’ plans here. Payton, 59, has also been mentioned as waffling on this year’s lot of jobs. Returning to FOX for another year and surveying the 2024 market, when two jobs he has long been connected to (Chargers, Cowboys), could be available might be what comes out of this run of interviews. Payton remains in this year’s mix, but buzz has died down.

Here is the latest from the coaching landscape:

  • Regarding the Cardinals‘ search, Brian Flores remains firmly in the mix. GM candidates received the impression Arizona is high on the three-year Miami HC-turned-Pittsburgh linebackers coach, Fowler notes. Previously mentioned as a frontrunner — due partially to the Cards hiring ex-Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort as GM — Flores may have a right-hand man on defense lined up. Some around the league expect the ex-Dolphins HC to bring Gerald Alexander, Miami’s defensive backs coach for the past three years, with him to Arizona, per Fowler. With the Dolphins looking for a new DC, Alexander may be on the move anyway. While ESPN colleague Dan Graziano points to Vance Joseph and Aaron Glenn remaining strong candidates, Flores has generated the most buzz to this point. Flores has also interviewed for the Falcons and Vikings’ DC posts.
  • Raheem Morris booked a second HC interview with the Colts and also met with the Broncos and Texans. Should the Rams‘ DC land a second HC opportunity, Albert Breer of SI.com notes Ejiro Evero is the team’s top candidate to replace him. The Denver DC is no lock to be available. He is under contract with the Broncos, who blocked a Falcons DC interview, and has gone through second HC interviews with the Colts and Texans. Denver could pass on retaining Evero by hiring a defensive-minded coach, of course. Evero came to Denver from Los Angeles; he spent five years on Sean McVay‘s staff.
  • The Browns considered bringing in Vic Fangio for a DC interview, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, but they stood down and ended up hiring Jim Schwartz. Cleveland having run a 4-3 defense in recent years may have been a reason for passing on a Fangio meeting, Cabot offers. Fangio has remained quite popular still, having interviewed for three DC jobs — the Dolphins, Falcons and Panthers — already.
  • The Bills are making a change to their defensive staff. They fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.com tweets. Salgado had been on McDermott’s staff throughout the head coach’s six-season tenure.
  • Giants DC Don Martindale is attached to a three-year contract, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Giants thought enough of the veteran coordinator, whom the Ravens did not bring back last year, they gave him the three-year deal as opposed to the more common two-year pact. Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey also received extensive interest from other teams, with Duggan adding the Chargers joined the Panthers in offering him their ST coordinator jobs. McGaughey, who has been with the Giants since 2018, turned down a Bears interview and opted to stay and work for Brian Daboll.

Browns To Hire Jim Schwartz As DC

The Browns have made the first hire in this season’s coordinator cycle. Cleveland is set to add Jim Schwartz as their new defensive coordinator, reports ESPN’s Dianna Russini (Twitter link).

Schwartz, 56, was quickly named as a candidate for the position. The veteran coach brings significant experience to the role, having spent a total of 14 years as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. His most recent tenure under that title came with the Eagles from 2016-20. Given his time there, he brings Super Bowl pedigree to a Browns team searching for consistency on their coaching staff.

Joe Woods was thought to be on the hot seat as Cleveland’s DC during the season, after his unit failed to live up to expectations. Performances improved later in the campaign, but it still came as little surprise when he was fired last week. That kicked off the team’s search for his successor, which included Sean Desai, Dennard Wilson, and Brian Flores being considered in addition to Schwartz. Patriots LBs coach Jerod Mayo declined to meet with the Browns for the position, but Cleveland will still land a highly-regarded staffer as a result of this hire.

Prior to his time with the Eagles, Schwartz had a five-year tenure as head coach of the Lions. Aside from a 10-6 campaign in 2011, Detroit posted a losing record in each of his seasons at the helm. That obviously hurt his chances of landing another HC post in the future, but his Philadelphia success (which began after a single season in Buffalo) rebuilt his stock with respect to his abilities as a coordinator. Schwartz also had an eight-year stint as the Titans’ DC from 2001-08.

It was with the Browns that Schwartz began his time in the NFL. In 1993, Cleveland hired him as a personnel scout, a role he remained in for three seasons. He stayed with the franchise for another three years after it moved to Baltimore, though his time with the Ravens consisted of work as a defensive assistant. That launched his career as a staffer on that side of the ball, and has led to plenty of success which his original employer will now hope he can replicate.

The Browns put up underwhelming numbers in most defensive categories in 2022, with their secondary standing out as a notable exception. The team’s front seven is likely to be a focal point in the offseason, after surrendering an average of 135 yards per game on the ground and recording only 34 sacks. A plethora of injuries at the middle linebacker position in particular contributed in part to those figures, but a new voice on the sidelines will likely be a welcomed sight.

With such an experienced DC coming onboard, head coach Kevin Stefanski will have a veteran staffer to lean on as the team looks to clean up issues such as discipline which were a talking point in the season. This hire could further point to Stefanski retaining offensive play-calling duties, something which has been called into question with calls for him to take on a more general role overseeing team as a whole. His staff now has a veteran voice on hand to steer the team towards a rebound in 2023.

Browns Request DC Interviews With Brian Flores, Jim Schwartz, Jerod Mayo, Sean Desai

JANUARY 13: Mayo will pass on an interview with the Browns, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston tweets. This comes after the Panthers requested a head coaching interview with the young assistant and the Patriots making the rare move to announce they are negotiating an extension. The Pats clearly view Mayo as a key part of their future. As such, he is standing down regarding the Browns’ interest.

JANUARY 10: Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweeted out the upcoming schedule for Browns DC interviews. Jim Schwartz is set to interview with the organization on Wednesday, while Brian Flores will be in the building on Thursday. The team is still working out interview times with Jerod Mayo and Sean Desai.

JANUARY 9: The Browns are starting early on their defensive coordinator search. Hours after firing three-year defensive play-caller Joe Woods, the team is eyeing three assistants and former HC Jim Schwartz for the position.

Cleveland sent out an interview request for Schwartz, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, and the parties are scheduling a meeting. Schwartz spent this season out of football. Among other staffers to receive requests, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport add that Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Seahawks associate HC Sean Desai have each received interview summons (all Twitter links).

Surprisingly fired by the Dolphins after leading a turnaround during the team’s aggressive rebuild effort, Flores interviewed for four HC jobs last year. Amid a discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and several teams, Flores was not hired and ended up in Pittsburgh as a Mike Tomlin lieutenant on defense. Even with Flores’ lawsuit still proceeding, it is unsurprising he has received early attention. It will be interesting if Flores, 41, ends up on the HC interview circuit; that will impede an early Browns commitment. Prior to his Dolphins tenure, Flores vaulted onto the HC radar after being Bill Belichick‘s de facto DC — a season that ended with the Patriots becoming the second team in Super Bowl history to hold an opponent (the Rams) without a touchdown.

Mayo, 36, has also met with teams about their HC vacancies in the recent past; the Broncos and Raiders interviewed him last year. Mayo reaffirmed recently a desire to become a head coach. While that is not exactly surprising, the Browns are interested to see if he move up a rung on the ladder in order to eventually move to the top of it. A former Patriots linebacker, Mayo has been on Belichick’s staff since 2019.

Desai, 39, spent a season (2021) as the Bears’ DC, but with Matt Nagy‘s staff being canned after last season, the Vic Fangio disciple ended up in Seattle under fellow ex-Fangio staffer Clint Hurtt. Desai spent nine seasons in Chicago, serving as a position coach under Marc Trestman and John Fox before working under Nagy.

Schwartz already showing interest in the Browns mark the beginnings of a potential homecoming for the veteran defensive leader. Schwartz started his NFL career on Belichick’s Browns staff in the early 1990s. The Ravens kept him on after firing Belichick in 1996, and Schwartz has since been a defensive coordinator for three teams — the Titans, Bills and Eagles — and spent the past two seasons as a Titans assistant. The former Lions HC, now 56, has 19 years of NFL HC or DC experience and collected a Super Bowl ring as Philly’s DC in 2017. Schwartz’s time in Philly overlapped with Browns GM Andrew Berry‘s stay with the NFC East team.

NFC East Notes: Toney, Eagles, Commanders

Kadarius Toney did not make the trip to London with his Giants teammates, and Brian Daboll offered another discouraging update regarding the 2021 first-round pick’s status. Toney is battling a new injury, with Daboll indicating the reason he did not make the trip is due to a Wednesday tweak of his previously non-injured hamstring (via SNY’s Connor Hughes, on Twitter). Toney is now dealing with injuries to both his hamstrings, and ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan adds (via Twitter) the shifty wideout said the hamstring issue he entered the week with was different from the one that plagued him this offseason. That would add up to three hamstring problems since camp.

Toney has yet to sustain a serious injury as a pro, but he has fast become one of the league’s most unavailable players. Quadriceps and oblique injuries sidelined him for seven combined games last season, and an ankle malady forced him out of another game. Toney missed much of last year’s training camp with a hamstring injury and underwent a knee scope this offseason. The Giants’ current regime is souring on the Dave Gettleman-era investment, who is signed through 2024.

The Giants will be without ToneyKenny Golladay and Wan’Dale Robinson against the Packers in London. The second-round rookie, who has not played since Week 1, will likely be out again. While Golladay will almost certainly not be part of next year’s Giants team, it is worth wondering if Toney will be. Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Giants wanted DeVonta Smith last year, but the Eagles traded in front of them. Philadelphia was able to begin wheeling and dealing to land the Heisman winner after its apparent Week 17 tanking effort the year prior. That gave Philly the No. 6 overall pick, though Doug Pederson was no longer with the team by that draft. Pederson never informed Jalen Hurts of the plan to, after not dressing Carson Wentz that night, take him out and play third-stringer Nate Sudfeld, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Pederson benching Hurts late in a close, nationally televised game bothered some in the organization, including then-DC Jim Schwartz. Some staffers also wondered if that decision would affect the Pederson-Hurts relationship going forward, McLane adds. That said, Pederson later expressed regret he did not go with Hurts sooner. As Wentz struggled during the 2020 season, the Eagles did not turn to Hurts until Week 14 that year.
  • Eagles management wanted to use the 2021 season to retool with younger talent, Zach Berman of The Athletic notes, while Pederson was behind a reload with a similar coaching staff. Pederson, who had resisted management’s wishes to oust Mike Groh during the 2020 offseason, wanted to promote Press Taylor to OC. That did not sit well with Jeffrey Lurie. Pederson has since hired Taylor as his Jaguars OC.
  • The Andrew NorwellTrai Turner guard reunion may end up being short-lived. The Commanders benched Turner in Week 4, and Ron Rivera said the move will carry over. Saahdiq Charles will start over Turner in Week 5, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets, with Rivera noting Turner is not fully over the quad injury he battled in camp. Turner nevertheless started from Weeks 2-4 and played 100% of the Commanders’ offensive snaps in Weeks 2 and 3. The former Rivera Panthers charge signed a one-year, $3MM deal this offseason, coming to Washington after one-year stays with the Chargers and Steelers. A third-year Washington O-lineman, Charles has started five career games

Giants Interview Jim Schwartz For DC

Four former defensive coordinators have now interviewed with the Giants. Jim Schwartz was the latest to do so, going through a virtual meeting with the team Saturday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

A Titans assistant, Schwartz has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator. He gained plenty of intel on recent Giants teams from his five-year post as Eagles DC. The Eagles hiring a new head coach last year ended up sending Schwartz back to Tennessee, where he aided Mike Vrabel‘s staff from a non-DC position this season.

The Giants have now met with Schwartz, ex-Ravens DC Don Martindale, multi-stint DC Teryl Austin and 2021 Bears defensive play-caller Sean Desai. After being prepared to keep Patrick Graham on for a third season, Brian Daboll appears to prefer Graham’s replacement have coordinator experience. Graham agreed to become the Raiders’ DC on Friday night.

Schwartz, 55, is best known for his time with the Lions. Inheriting a team coming off an 0-16 season, Schwartz guided Detroit to a 10-6 slate in 2011. After the Lions fired Schwartz following the 2013 season, he resurfaced as the Bills’ DC before moving to Philly and collecting a Super Bowl ring. The Colts interviewed Schwartz recently but ended up hiring Gus Bradley as their defensive leader.

Colts To Interview Jim Schwartz For DC

With Matt Eberflus departing Indianapolis to become head coach of the Bears, the Colts are in need of a new defensive coordinator. After interviewing Jaguars DC Joe Cullen and WFT defensive backs coach Chris Harris this weekend, the club plans to speak with Titans senior defensive assistant Jim Schwartz for the job.

It was Schwartz’s work as Tennessee’s DC from 2001-08 that landed him the Lions’ head coaching job in 2009, and he remained in Detroit for five seasons, compiling a 29-51 record during that time (though he did secure a rare playoff appearance for the team in 2011). He enjoyed a successful season as the Bills’ defensive coordinator in 2014, but then-HC Doug Marrone resigned following that campaign, and new HC Rex Ryan brought in his own staff.

Schwartz, now 55, served as the Eagles’ DC from 2016-2020, a run that included a championship ring. His Super Bowl-winning defense ranked fourth in the league, and his unit was ranked in the top-10 against the run from 2017-19. After his contract with Philadelphia expired at the end of the 2020 season, he initially planned to sit out 2021, though the Titans convinced him to come back in something of an advisory role. After finishing as a bottom-five defense in terms of yards allowed in 2020, Tennessee was ranked 12th in the league in that regard in 2021.

Colts HC Frank Reich arrived in Philadelphia with Schwartz in 2016 and spent the 2016-17 seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator, so there is an obvious familiarity there. And Schwartz has a long track record of success, so while this is the first reported interest in him in this year’s coaching cycle, Reich could do much worse in his quest to replace Eberflus.

In related news, Reich may be losing his safeties coach, Alan Williams. We heard on Friday that Williams is a candidate to become Eberflus’ defensive coordinator in Chicago, and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweeted this morning that Eberflus is indeed targeting Williams.

Titans To Hire Jim Schwartz

Jim Schwartz said in January he planned to take the 2021 season off, but the five-year Eagles defensive coordinator appears to have backtracked on that pledge.

The former Titans DC plans to return to Tennessee, according to Brent Dougherty of 104.5 The Zone and TitanInsider.com’s Terry McCormick (Twitter links). Schwartz has an extensive history with the Titans, having worked in multiple positions with the franchise since it rebranded under the Titans moniker in 1999.

Schwartz’s initial Titans gig launched him onto the head coaching radar. He worked as Tennessee’s DC from 2001-08 and was with the franchise for 10 years prior to accepting the Lions’ HC job in 2009. Schwartz was a Titans defensive assistant on their 1999 Super Bowl staff and served as the team’s linebackers coach in 2000. That defense ranked first overall, leading to Schwartz’s promotion to DC in ’01.

Following Dean Pees‘ latest retirement, the Titans went without a true defensive coordinator last year. The results were not good. Tennessee ranked as one of the worst third-down defenses in modern NFL history and ranked 28th in total defense. The Titans, who offered Pees a role on their 2021 staff, promoted 2020 defensive play-caller Shane Bowen to DC. It looks like he will have some notable help next season.

As Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website writes, Schwartz will serve as a resource to Bowen and the rest of the team’s defensive staff. Head coach Mike Vrabel said, “We are excited to add Jim to our staff. 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.”

The Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl-winning defense ranked fourth under Schwartz, and the Fletcher Cox-anchored unit ranked in the top 10 against the run from 2017-19. Just about everything fell off track in Philly last year, but Schwartz has a history of coaxing production. The 54-year-old assistant has popped up occasionally on the HC carousel but has been a defensive play-caller since the Lions fired him in 2014.

Eagles DC Jim Schwartz Sitting Out 2021 Season

Jim Schwartz is stepping away from football, at least temporarily. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports that the Eagles defensive coordinator will let his contract expire at the end of the season and will “take a year off from coaching.”

According to Pelissero, the Eagles had approached the 54-year-old about an extension. However, after undergoing hip and eye surgeries, Schwartz believed this was a good time to take a break. While the report notes that Schwartz “will contemplate retirement,” it also sounds like he’s keeping his options open for future opportunities.

Schwartz got his first NFL opportunity in 1993 when he served as a scout on Bill Belichick‘s staff in Cleveland. Following a stint with the Ravens, Schwartz ended up catching on in Tennessee. After starting as a defensive assistant, he made his way up to linebackers coach and eventually defensive coordinator, a role he held for eight seasons.

Schwartz got a crack at head coaching in 2009 when he was hired by the Lions. He finished with an ugly 29-51 record during his five seasons in Detroit, although he did make the postseason with third-year quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2011. He was fired by the Lions following the 2013 campaign, and he was subsequently signed as the defensive coordinator in Buffalo. The Bills had a top-five defense during that 2014 season, but he wasn’t retained when Rex Ryan took over as head coach following the campaign.

Schwartz was hired as Philly’s defensive coordinator in 2016. The veteran coach played a major role in turning around a porous defense, and he earned a Super Bowl ring after guiding the defense in 2017.