The Eagles' defense should be good this year. The experts all seem to agree the team will have a unit in the top 10 or 15 thanks to returning superstars like Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins — and a few new faces like Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin.
But many also cite Jim Schwartz as a catalyst for an excellent defense.
Granted, the defensive coordinator has had a few very impressive defenses during his tenure in the NFL as both a head coach and a DC. But he is working under rookie head coach Doug Pederson. And he has an ugly 29-51 coaching record.
Throughout his career, he's seen some good numbers posted by his teams. Some were toward the top in points allowed while others tallied up the sacks. In Philadelphia, Schwartz is putting all that behind him.
"In a nutshell, we want to allow less points than our offense scores," Schwartz said Tuesday after coaching Eagles rookies and select veterans in training camp practice. "I mean, you know, rankings, stats — the only thing that matters in this league is wins and losses. I'll take a 42-41 game. I might not sleep well afterwards, but I'll take it. I'd rather have that than a 7-3 game that you lose."
So, winning is everything. That's what fans want to hear. But the win or bust mentality doesn't mean the Birds' defense won't have an identity. To the contrary, they're out for blood.
"We want to be an attack defense," the one-time Lions head coach said. "We want to put pressure on the quarterback. Like anything, it's very difficult to defend the entire field, so what we want to try to do is defend the things that are easiest for the offense to capitalize on and try to make them do what is most difficult."
Shifting the Eagles from Chip Kelly and Billy Davis' 3-4 to the 4-3 appears to be a good fit for most personnel on the squad this year, and the philosophy change will actually give Schwartz some manuverability with defensive ends and linebackers who have proven they can play multiple NFL positions.
"We have to be multi-dimensional enough that we can change from week-to-week," Schwartz said. "There might be some weeks where we play a lot of eight-man front — we have a good running team. There might be some weeks where we play very little eight-man front. We have to have smart enough and multidimensional players enough that we can morph from week-to-week, [for] lack of a better term."