Jim Schwartz is the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Schwartz, 51, was previously the head coach of the Detroit Lions and has also been assistant for the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.
Here’s what you need to know about Jim Schwartz:
1. Schwartz Was Born in Maryland & Played Football at Mount Saint Joseph High School & Georgetown University, Where He Was Jim Gaffigan’s Teammate
Jim Schwartz was born in Halethorpe, Maryland, outside of Baltimore, and was one of nine children. Schwartz’s father, also named Jim, was a police officer and his late mother, Pat, raised the younger Jim, his brother and seven sisters, according to MLive.com.
“We had a Volkswagen bug and my dad would cram all of us into it sometimes because our station wagon used more gas,” Andy Schwartz, Jim’s brother, told the news site in 2009. “And, we would never go through the Harbor Tunnel in Baltimore because my dad didn’t want to pay a dollar, so we would go around the Beltway. It felt like we were in a clown car. People would drive next to us and start counting how many people we had shoved in there.”
He attended Mount St. Joseph High School, an all-boys Catholic school, where he played football. He was one of three players from the high school’s 1983 football team to play or coach in the Super Bowl.
After high school, Schwartz played football at Georgetown University, where he was a linebacker for the Hoyas. He was an All-American in his senior year, was the team captain and graduated with an economics degree, according to the Hoya Football Project.
While at Georgetown, Schwartz was a teammate of comedian Jim Gaffigan, according to Philly.com. Gaffigan was an offensive lineman.
“The thing that I love about Jim’s story is that he and I kind of pursued the pipe dream,” Gaffigan told the newspaper in 2016. “Jim wanted to be a pro football coach, and I wanted to be a comedian. They were dreams that were kind of viewed as impractical. I’m sure there were plenty of other guys on the team who wanted to be football coaches and some who wanted to be an actor or a comedian, but we were the two who followed our passion.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Schwartz used skills developed during economics classes to help him during his coaching career. He was an early adopter of analytics and his players have called him a guru.
“He kind of has this walk where he’s just looking at the ground,” cornerback Jaylen Watkins told the Inquirer. “Sometimes he may not say anything to you, but I think being with him for two years now you don’t take any offense to it. You understand that he’s thinking about something and it probably has to do with football.”
Jalen Mills told the newspaper, “He’s in his head. You see him pacing and pacing and you’re just like, ‘Oh, God, he’s thinking about something else.’”
Watkins told the newspaper, “He’s the best at involving his players in analytics. A lot of coaches know the situations and maybe not say anything to the players in meetings, but only right before the situation. We all have a general understanding in case I don’t speak to him before say, the final 14 seconds. I can look at the clock and get my own understanding and I know what he’s thinking, too.”
Schwartz told the Inquirer, “I think when it’s all said and done, percentages and numbers and stuff like that, they are important. But it means a lot less than guys knowing what to do and guys playing with some personality and tackling well and having speed and playing fast and all those things. I think those things probably rank ahead of statistics and analytics for us.”
2. He Started His Pro Career on Bill Belichick’s Staff in Cleveland & the Patriots Coach Called Him ‘One of the Smartest People I Know’
Schwartz got his start in the NFL when he was hired by then-Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick in 1993 as a personnel scout. Schwartz had previously spent time as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, a grad assistant at the University of Minnesota and a coach at North Carolina Central and Colgate.
“I owe just about my whole NFL career to him; No. 1, for giving me the chance, and No. 2, from the preparation and the knowledge that I gained in Cleveland with him. I think that the biggest thing is preparation,” Schwartz told reporters in 2010. ”
After two years in Cleveland, Schwartz was hired as the outside linebackers coach in Baltimore. In 1999, he joined the Tennessee Titans. He was promoted to defensive coordinator there in 2001 and spent the next nine seasons in that role. Belichick told reporters at the Super Bowl he tried to hire Schwartz to be part of his staff in New England in 2001, but then-Titans coach Jeff Fisher beat him to the punch by promoting him to the DC position.
“I can’t say enough good things about Jim Schwartz,” Belichick told reporters on Monday. “He’s one of the smartest people I know. … He’s a really talented person. Look, I couldn’t say a bad thing about Jim Schwartz.”
Belichick added, “He’s a good, good football coach. He started off in personnel, so he has a good understanding of player personnel, player development, those kind of things. I have a ton of respect for Schwartzy, he’s one of the best guys I’ve worked with.”
Schwartz told reporters, “Yeah, I’m not going to be on the field on Sunday. We need our players to be smart. I like our group that way. We don’t make a whole lot of mistakes. It’s going to be Tom Brady and their offense matching wits with [Eagles safety] Malcolm Jenkins and our defense. It’s not going to be who’s been inducted into the Mensa society or anything like that.”
He then smirked and said, “I deflected that one well, I think.”
3. Schwartz Was the Detroit Lions Head Coach for 5 Seasons, Putting Together a 29-51 Record & Making One Playoff Appearance
Schwartz was a highly coveted young coordinator during his time with the Tennessee Titans and eventually was hired by the Detroit Lions in 2009. In his first season, Detroit went 2-14. The Lions improved to 6-10 in his second season and then made the playoffs in his third year. They were eliminated by the New Orleans Saints in the first round.
He was then fired after 4-12 and 7-9 seasons in 2012 and 2013.
Schwartz recently told MLive.com, “That was an awesome time in my life. Not only to be a head coach and take over a franchise — a historical franchise — like that, but to get them back to life, you know? We didn’t have the success that we wanted to have. And I’ll say it, I didn’t have the success — the ultimate success — that we wanted to have because I wanted them to be in this game. But just to bring that program back to life from where they were, that meant a lot to me. I’ll always cherish my time in Detroit.
Schwartz was known for his fiery demeanor on the sideline in Detroit, but his current players say he has calmed down a bit.
“He’s calmed down a lot more than he used to (be),” Brandon Graham told MLive.com “I think he’s come a long way. He talks about it a lot — “Man, I’ve come a long way. He was more emotional during that time (in Detroit). And he’s an emotional guy, as far as he cares. He really cares. And I think sometimes, some situations got the best of him. But I don’t think he’s in that place no more where he was back then. Obviously you see him now. He’s like night and day.”
Schwartz told the news site, “Everyone changes with time. You develop along the way, and every step you take along the way, you gain greater knowledge, you gain greater depth, you gain greater experience to use in the future. We’re all a product of our past experiences.”
4. After a Stop in Buffalo, Schwartz Was Hired as the Eagles Defensive Coordinator in 2016
After being fired by Detroit, Schwartz spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. In 2016, new Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson, a former offensive coordinator, hired him to coach his defense.
Schwartz took the Eagles defense from one of the league’s worst into one of its best in just two seasons, according to The Associated Press. Schwartz, who uses a 4-3 scheme, now has to figure out a way to stop Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
“No player stands on his own,” Schwartz told the AP. “The NFL in general, but particularly the Patriots, you can’t scheme for one player. If you do, then they have plenty of other players that can make plays. You have to do a good job against their entire offense, and you can’t really make it about one person.”
Schwartz’s success could lead to him earning another shot at a head coaching job. He received interest from the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals, but wouldn’t say if he interviewed for those jobs.
“I think it’s not fair to our players or anything else to talk about anything else,” Schwartz told the AP.
Jeremiah Washburn, Schwartz’s offensive line coach in Detroit, told MMQB, “The right job is out there for him. He is going to get the right job and absolutely kill it.”
5. Schwartz & His Wife, Kathy, Have 3 Children
Jim Schwartz has been married to his wife, Kathy Schwartz, for several years. Kathy Kelly Schwartz, 49, is also a Maryland native. According to the Eagles website, the couple has three children, twins Christian and Allison, born in 2001, and Maria, born in 2003.
Schwartz told ESPN in 2016 that Detroit has an important place in his family’s story.
“I visit there a lot of times in the offseason. I don’t have very many friends, but my wife has a lot of friends,” he joked with ESPN, “and certainly enjoyed my time there. And it will be part of our family’s life, not just my life, but it will be part of our family’s life. And you look back and think you can take a couple years and you can appreciate the good times maybe a little bit more than when you’re in the middle of things.”
In 2013, after the Lions 4-12 season with Schwartz at the helm, his son, Christian, gave him the silent treatment.
“That wasn’t a joke. He was mad,” Schwartz told NFL.com. “If you see his room, he’s got Lions helmets and jerseys. It’s not because he’s my son. It’s because he’s a big Lions fan. If I worked down at the Rogue (a local automotive plant), he’d still have all that same stuff. He’s a fan.”