Sources: Eagles DC Schwartz taking year off

PHILADELPHIA — Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz intends to take the year off from coaching in 2021 as he contemplates retirement, sources told ESPN.

Philadelphia will be in the market for a new defensive coordinator as it embarks on what promises to be an offseason full of significant change for the 4-10-1 team.

Schwartz, 54, intends to let his contract expire. He has had a couple of minor procedures over the past year-plus, including hip and eye surgeries, and believes stepping back from the daily grind of coaching would be in his best interest, a source said.

He also took a year sabbatical in 2015 after being let go as Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator and worked with the NFL’s officiating department in a consulting position.

Schwartz joined Doug Pederson’s staff in 2016 and helped deliver the city its first Super Bowl title a year later. The Eagles’ defense finished No. 1 against the run and fourth in points allowed (18.4) during the championship run in 2017. Schwartz’s unit gave up 17 total points in playoff wins against the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings prior to the 41-33 Super Bowl shootout against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The Eagles ranked among the top 10 in rushing defense (1st, 93.4 YPG), red zone defense (2nd, 49.5%), third-down defense (3rd, 35.4%), scoring defense (7th, 20.8 PPG) and takeaways (9th, 94) over his first four seasons.

Known best for allowing his defensive linemen to pin their ears back and attack, the Eagles are in the top five in sacks in 2020.

Issues have crept in over the past two seasons in particular, however. An Achilles’ heel last season was the defense’s propensity to give up the big play, yielding 15 plays of 40-plus yards through the air, second worst in the NFL. In 2020, the group struggled to generate turnovers and entered Week 17 with the second-fewest interceptions (six).

Schwartz’s unit was once again hit hard by injuries, with Fletcher Cox, Rodney McLeod, Derek Barnett, Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay among those who missed time over the second half of the season.

“Obviously, his defenses historically have been top defenses in the National Football League — of course, when guys are healthy and all of that,” coach Doug Pederson said this week. “Our relationship’s been great. I think as the season progressed this year, I thought the defense actually was doing some really good things for us and keeping the offense in these football games here down the stretch, creating takeaways and sort of stymieing the run game from our opponents, things of that nature.”

Schwartz got his start in the NFL in 1993 as a personnel scout for then-Cleveland Browns coach Bill Belichick. He spent five years as Detroit Lions coach (2009-13), helping the team to its first playoff berth since 1999 in 2011.

He also served as the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans (2001-08) and Bills (2014).

During his time with Tennessee, the Titans earned six playoff berths, played in two AFC Championship Games and appeared in Super Bowl XXXIV.

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