Jim Schwartz is currently the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles and is regarded as a pretty smart defensive mind. He led the Tennessee Titans to the #2 ranked defense in 2008 before becoming the Detroit Lions head coach in 2009. From 2009 through 2013, Schwartz improved the Detroit defense from 32nd in points to 13th and 16th in his final two years.
Schwartz moved on to become the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills in 2014, leading the team to a #4 ranked unit, but lost his job when Buffalo hired Rex Ryan to be head coach. Schwartz was out of football in 2015 before joining with the Eagles in 2016 and spent his free time sharing his wisdom with the masses.
Football coach and general film breakdown guru James Light shared some videos of Schwartz’s talking circuit with the Twittersphere and Schwartz happened to spread some lessons he learned from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick gave Schwartz his first NFL job as a scout for the Cleveland Browns from 1993-95.
On offensive linemen
Parcells/Belichick: "Only three things matter when evaluating an offensive lineman: Big, Smart & Tough" pic.twitter.com/4yhRa0Dzxt— James Light (@JamesALight) July 4, 2017
“Most of Bill Belichick’s mantras and the things that he preached came from Bill Parcells. And he would say there’s only three things- this is Bill Parcells speaking,” Schwartz said. “...that only three things mattered when you talked about an offensive lineman and it was big, smart, and tough. And if you had those things, then you could develop the player.”
The Patriots invested two draft picks in offensive linemen in 2017 so this quote is extremely relevant. Tony Garcia and Conor McDermott are both blessed with enormous frames and excellent quickness. The two tackles are also very experienced (for lack of a better metric to define “smart”), with Garcia’s “toughness” one of his most notable traits.
On pass rushing against weak offensive lines
Belichick: "Versus bad offensive lines, rush 5." Or as Schwartz talks about use the LB as a ghost & rush 4 but still force 1 on 1 protection pic.twitter.com/3bGVcE2TAK— James Light (@JamesALight) July 4, 2017
“We started trying to rush five man blitz principles with four guys. There’s an adage that if Bill Belichick was up here, he’d say, ‘if you have a bad offensive line you want to rush five,’” Schwartz said. “Because he wants one-on-ones. If the guys aren’t very good, don’t give them a chance to help each other. Get in that five down look or bring another guy and make those guys all defend one-on-one.”
Here is a great example, 5 man pass rush principles only rushing 4. Pre-Snap show by the LB forces 1 on 1 matchups for the rushers pic.twitter.com/gwVTf8MJEc— James Light (@JamesALight) July 4, 2017
By using the 5 man pass rush principles you not only get the 1 on 1 matchups, but you can use a Cone Bracket on their #1 WR (Hopkins) pic.twitter.com/MKddC26dcJ— James Light (@JamesALight) July 4, 2017
The Patriots started to play with the Bear Front in 2016 with five players on the line of scrimmage before dropping one back into coverage. This plays into the idea that offensive lines are less prepared than in previous years and that Belichick wants to take advantage of both poor communication and a lack of experience.
It also provides a good way to generate mismatches for pass rushers likes Trey Flowers at the four-technique because having five players on the line of scrimmage gives Flowers a potential one-on-one against the left guard since the left tackle needs to respect the outside rusher- and that sets up Malcom Brown or Alan Branch with a great match-up against the center.
On receiving backs
Blitzing the Back: "If we can't cover him, let's keep his ass in protection." pic.twitter.com/dmHSwo8uA3— James Light (@JamesALight) July 9, 2017
“When you’re a defensive coach, there’s nothing worse than having a blistering bitch in the backfield that you can’t cover,” Schwartz said about receiving backs. “You got linebackers that can’t cover him and you got to drop a safety down, but then you’re out of your two deep shells and then you got to get in the single high. It’s hard to cover some of these guys.”
There’s a reason why the Patriots just gave James White a three-year extension. Receiving backs can really tilt the field in favor of the offense and few have been better than White over the past two years.