This might be a great way to start off 2021 for Eagles fans: Jim Schwartz will not return to the Eagles coaching staff in 2021. According to a report by Tom Pelissero at NFL Network, Jim Schwartz will be stepping down as defensive coordinator after the season concludes. This will mark the end of a five-year reign as commander of the defense in Philly. The news of his departure will make Eagles fans near and far very happy! The time has come to enter a new era of football for the Philadelphia defense. Here’s a look at potential candidates to replace Jim Schwartz in Philly.
Matt Burke – Eagles Run Game Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach
Matt Burke arrived in Philadelphia last season as a defensive special assistant on the Eagles staff. The Eagles elevated him to Run Game Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach in 2020. The Dartmouth alum is a Jim Schwartz protégé, having served under him in Detroit for 5 seasons. Burke spent the beginning of his coaching career as a linebackers coach. Fast forward to 2017, and Matt earned a promotion to defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins. If you want to keep the Jim Schwartz system installed, then Matt Burke will be a good choice for Jim Schwartz’s successor in Philadelphia.
Marquand Manuel – Eagles Defensive Backs Coach
Marquand Manuel joined the Eagles staff in 2020 as the defensive backs coach. He started his NFL coaching career as an assistant Special teams coach with the Seattle Seahawks, and was elevated to Assistant Secondary coach in 2014. Formerly, Manuel served as Defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Marquand served 3 years under head coach Dan Quinn before being fired in 2018. After taking a year off from football, he landed in his current position with the Eagles. Manuel was a college teammate with former Eagles DB Lito Shepard. Lito described Marquand Manuel as a very passionate individual and a natural leader.
“He brings a very Brian Dawkins-like inspirational mentality.” -Lito Shepard.
After hearing those words from Lito Shepard, I’m sure many Eagles fans would shoot Manuel to the top of their selections for the Dawkins comparison alone. Below is a video of Marquand Manuel displaying his leadership and passionate inspiration to his players in a hype reel.
Need to get jacked again?
Trust us, DC Marquand Manuel will get you HYPE. pic.twitter.com/tn6yyT8wVF
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 7, 2018
Experienced Defensive Coordinators
Dan Quinn – Free Agent. Former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach
Dan Quinn has 20 years of NFL experience and appearances in 3 Super Bowls. He spent 2 years in Seattle as their defensive coordinator and became an integral component in forming the Legion of Boom. In 2013, the Seahawks led the league in fewest points allowed, fewest yards allowed, and takeaways! Yes, Takeaways! Eagles fans haven’t seen many defensive turnovers in the last few seasons, so that would be a breath of fresh air.
Quinn landed a job in Atlanta as head coach and went to the Super Bowl in just his second season. The following year, Atlanta was one play away from upsetting the #1 Seed Eagles. In the next few years, Quinn would compile a record of 14-23. This resulted in him being fired shortly into the 2020 season. Dan Quinn brings a 4-3 base Under defense with him as a defensive coordinator and a cover 3 that relies on athletic DB’s that can tackle. Dan Quinn is an experienced option for the Eagles to reinvent their vision on defense.
Marvin Lewis – Co Defensive Coordinator, Arizona State University
The current Co-Defensive coordinator of the Arizona State Sun Devils is an intriguing option to return to the NFL in a defensive role. Marvin Lewis is an experienced NFL coach with 16 seasons as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s a former defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens that led them to a dominant Super Bowl win in 2001. Lewis brings with him a 4-3 base defense that would fit the Eagles current roster. The intangible that intrigues me about Lewis is his experience as a linebacker coach. Marvin Lewis could greatly improve the young linebacker corps of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Romeo Crennel – Interim Head Coach, Houston Texans
The current Interim Head Coach of the Houston Texans could be available if they don’t retain him at the end of the season. Romeo Crennel has an experienced resume as a successful defensive coordinator. He served on Bill Belichick’s staff for 3 Super Bowl victories from 2001-04. Belichick has labeled Crennel as the best coach he’s ever worked with:
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of great coaches in my career, but he (Crennel) would be at the top of that list.”
Crennel has 40 years of coaching experience, which includes 5 super bowl rings. He runs an old school 3-4 one gap defensive system, which may not fit the Eagles’ current scheme. However, Romeo Crennel provides excellent experience and leadership that’s needed on the Eagles defense.
Matt Patricia – Free Agent. Former Detroit Lions Head Coach
Matt is also a former Patriots assistant under the Belichick coaching tree that could be available as a candidate for the Eagles. Patricia served 14 seasons as a Patriots assistant under Bill Belichick. He was a defensive coordinator with the Patriots for 7 years before accepting a head coaching job with the Detroit Lions. Matt’s tenure with the Lions didn’t go as well as expected. He recorded a 13-29-1 record with Detroit before he was fired in 2020. He could slip back into a coordinator role to rebuild his coaching reputation. Patricia was known for his defensive expertise, and a return to a coordinator role could be what he needs to ignite a fire back into his coaching techniques.
Wade Phillips – Free Agent
Wade Phillips is a highly regarded defensive coordinator around the league. He served two stints in Denver, where one resulted in a Super Bowl appearance, and the other was celebrated with a Super Bowl victory. Most recently, Phillips served as the DC for the Los Angeles Rams, which included another trip to the Super Bowl. While the defense held its own against Tom Brady, they suffered a 13-3 defeat. Phillips was let go by the Rams before the start of the 2020 season. Phillips runs a 3-4 defense, a different scheme than what the Eagles currently run in their system. However, with the knowledge and experience that Phillips brings to the table, you have to include him on this list.
Steve Wilks – Free Agent
The former Arizona Cardinals head coach could return to football after a one-year layoff from the league. Steve Wilks worked for years under Ron Rivera as an assistant in Chicago and eventually the Carolina defensive coordinator. He’s a former defensive backs coach who helped mold Josh Norman and James Bradberry into elite corners in this league. This is something the Eagles could use on their staff, an excellent teacher with knowledge in the secondary to coach up the young guys. Wilks runs a 4-3 base defense and could fit into the Eagles defense’s current makeup.
Position Coach Prospects
Kris Richard – Free Agent
Kris Richard is another coach from the Pete Carroll defensive coaching tree in the Legion of Boom era. He was the Seahawks defensive backs coach from 2012-14 when they reached 2 Super Bowls. Richard took over as Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2015 in which they ranked 1st in fewest points allowed. They ranked 3rd in 2016 and 11th in 2017. The Seahawks let him go in 2017, Richard landed with the Cowboys as the defensive backs coach. He spent two years in Dallas before being along with Jason Garrett after the 2019 season. He’s currently a free agent after sitting out the 2020 season.
Aaron Glenn – Defensive Backs Coach, New Orleans Saints
Aaron Glenn is an intriguing DC prospect. He’s made an excellent transition to a position coach in the league. Glenn started his coaching journey in the NFL as a personnel scout. After a brief stop on the Browns coaching staff, he’s settled into his role as defensive backs coach of the Saints. In five seasons, Glenn has transformed their secondary into one of the premier groups in the league. Over the last 3 seasons, the Saints secondary has a total of 33 interceptions. A huge roadblock in trying to pry Aaron Glenn away from the Saints is Dennis Allen’s emergence as a head coaching candidate. If Dennis Allen lands a head coaching gig, I would assume that Glenn is the DC in waiting for the Saints. Aaron Glenn could be a dark horse candidate for the Eagles if he were to become available.
Jerod Mayo – Inside Linebackers Coach, New England Patriots
Jerod Mayo is only 34 years old but is rising the charts as the hottest commodity among position coaches. Mayo has 2 years of coaching experience as a member of Bill Belichick’s staff in New England. According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
“He (Jerod Mayo) is emerging as a rising star in NFL coaching circles.”
Jerod Mayo could be a potential candidate to fill the Texans head coaching job, but the Eagles should look at him as a possible candidate to run the defense if that falls through.
Demeco Ryans – Inside Linebackers Coach, San Francisco 49ers
Here’s a familiar name Eagles fans can relate to, Demeco Ryans. The former Eagles linebacker landed a coaching gig with the 49ers in 2017 as a Defensive Quality Control Coach. The 49ers promoted him in 2018 to Inside Linebackers coach, he is now on the fast track to becoming a successful coach in the NFL. Demeco always had the itch to coach, going back to his college days where teammates nicknamed him as “Coach.” Once current defensive coordinator Robert Saleh makes the potential jump to a Head Coach, the 49ers organization views Demeco as a possible replacement for Saleh. If Demeco becomes available, the Eagles should take a look into the former Eagle landing in Philly.
The next Commander of the Eagles will be…
Who knows, right? Any of the above candidates could replace Jim Schwartz. The Eagles organization will be going through many changes in the off-season. The makeup of the roster will be much different next year. Could the Eagles change defensive philosophies by going to a 3-4 defense? Maybe they’ll bring in a veteran coordinator like Wade Phillips or Romeo Crennel. They could promote internally by hiring Matt Burke or Marquand Manuel. Finally, they could have interest in a position coach who’s ready to make the jump to a coordinator such as Aaron Glenn or Demeco Ryans. Whatever decision the front office makes with the defense, it’ll be interesting! Goodbye Jim Schwartz! Go Birds!