The Eagles are just a few days away from colliding with the 1-3 Detroit Lions at Ford Field, a game where revenge will be on the mind of many players inside the Philadelphia locker room. With Jim Schwartz as their Defensive coordinator, a former Head Coach of the Lions, the Eagles seemed primed to run rampant on Sunday..but it’s not quite that simple.
Jim Schwartz may have been the Head Coach of the Lions between 2009-2013, but things have changed a lot since his tenure ended..one of the main things being the emergence of Matt Stafford. One of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league, Stafford has developed into an extremely dangerous quarterback but due to the lack of support around him, is often overlooked.
However, since the arrival of Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford has thrown 26 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. The 28-year old has already thrown 7 touchdowns this season, despite the Offense having to move on from Calvin Johnson (something we will dig into much further with our “Know your enemy” All-22). The Offense has changed drastically since Schwartz was last in town as the Buffalo DC..and he may be in for a few surprises come Sunday.
Schwartz has only played the Lions, who he’s spent the most years with of any of the teams he’s worked for, once since leaving. The Bills lost 17-14 as Dan Carpenter sailed a Field Goal through with just 4 seconds left on the clock.
Not only that, but even though the Lions have seemingly struggled at times this year, they understand, perhaps better than most, how Jim Schwartz plays Football and what to expect. His ruthless scheme has seen the Defense soar to the top of the NFL rankings..but the Lions understand how it operates, and what potential flaws it presents. It’s also no coincidence how the Lions are moving the ball down the field this season..but again, more on that in our upcoming All-22 preview.
On the other side of the ball however, is where his perceived advantage lies. With many of the players drafted and signed under Jim Schwartz, the knowledge going into this game will be one of his greatest weapons. He knows the strengths of Tahir Whitehead, the weaknesses of Glover Quin and how to get past Darius Slay..but anyone can learn understand the same kind of things if they turn to the film.
What Schwartz really brings to the table is that he knows them on a personal level. Their tendencies, their personalities, their traits. It’s this level of depth that makes his previous experience so helpful..and talking of previous experience, he has a hidden ace up his sleeve.
Stephen Tulloch was brought in as reenforcement to a depleted Eagles linebacker corps, following the injury of Joe Walker..but the veteran linebacker brings much more than a superior ability to stop the run. Tulloch has followed good management, as many often should. From Tennessee, to Detroit and now to Philadelphia. Tulloch has not only spent years with Schwartz with the team the Eagles face this weekend, he’s seen how they’ve developed.
“I just know certain players and certain personnel that will create problems, Obviously, I’ve been there a long time. You give [your teammates] a little insight, but at the end of the day you’ve got to line up and play ball. Guys are going to study tape.”
The Eagles appear to be at a stalemate coming into this weekend. Schwartz and Tulloch have some of the most useful knowledge possible when it comes to gameplanning against this team, but the Lions have evolved since Schwartz moved on..and understand how he likes to play Defense, and as a result will look for ways to compensate for that.
Meeting your match is one thing, but playing against a team that know you just as well as you know them, both personally, and professionally, is a something Schwartz has experienced before..but will the outcome be different on Sunday?
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports