In a slightly surprising move, the Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly finalizing an agreement with former Dolphins defensive coordinator, Matt Burke. The role, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, would be ‘a top aide to Jim Schwartz’. So what does that mean, why is it important and why Matt? Here’s everything you need to know.
If we’re to go off of Burke’s time as a defensive coordinator, it doesn’t look pretty. Miami rank near the bottom of the league in just about every category after allowing 6,257 total yards and an average of 27 yards per game in 2018. Burke was the first in the firing line after two disappointing defensive seasons, but is it really all his fault? I mean, any time a defense allows 433 points in a season, you’d naturally point to the coordinator.
This isn’t a ‘ defending Matt Burke’ article, but it’s not his fault that the team lost their top defensive playmaker and seemed to lose all production from their remaining extortionately-paid pass-rushers in the process. It’s also not his fault that the secondary continued to crumble, committing the same errors that Eagles fans know all-too-well by this stage. Injuries ripped through the heart of the defense in a worryingly similar fashion too.
It would require a lot of tape study to really find out what went on in Miami this season, but the general consensus is that it wasn’t pretty and Burke has to take some responsibility.
Prior to his time in Miami, Burke was perennially a linebacker coach for many years. He moved to Miami to take on that role to begin with after working with the Bengals and Lions in that same position for seven seasons. If the connection bells aren’t ringing yet, let me fill in the gaps.
Way back when Jim Schwartz was the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, the Super Bowl champion worked with Burke, who also signed with the team that season as a quality control coach. Burke remained with Tennessee throughout the reign of Jim Schwartz and eventually followed his coordinator to Detroit when he was hired as a Head Coach.
Burke was hired as a linebackers coach, helping names like Stephen Tulloch (for Eagles trivia purposes), DeAndre Levy, and Tahir Whitehead, harness their full potential.
So now, Burke reunites with Schwartz for the third time in his career. There’s clearly a strong relationship between the two and after Burke failed to leap into the role of a defensive coordinator successfully, perhaps some shadowing under Schwartz would be beneficial.
What it means
If we’re brutally honest, the Jim Schwartz defense wasn’t exactly elite either in 2018. Sure, there was a fairytale end to what was an injury ridden, heartbreaking inducing, dismal, season, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the defense as a whole was shaky at the very best of times. Adding a name like Burke, who has a proficient history with coaching up linebackers (to which the Eagles have a very young group outside of Nigel Bradham and RFA Jordan Hicks), could help bring some fresh perspective.
Burke has worked with several NFL teams now and having some outside input could potentially bring some fresh concepts and ideas to the table.
It’s unclear just what the role will be as of right now, but the hiring of Burke at least raises some eyebrows. There was some legitimate concern that the Eagles would lose Schwartz to a Head Coaching role after he won the Super Bowl and believe it or not, there are those around the league who still see this as a possibility.
In a bizarre world, this could actually be an insurance policy as a candidate they could promote internally. Burke has a close relationship with Schwartz and has seen more than enough of his defense and its evolution to pick up where he left off in this outlandish hypothetical. Another could simply be that if the Eagles fail to retain Schwartz after next season following a plausible resurgence, then they have a candidate who has DC experience and has spent yet another year under Jim Schwartz to learn as much about the Eagles defense as possible.
Realistically, it’s probably just to benefit Schwartz and give him an extra voice during those grueling nights of grinding film. But you never know…