Longtime NFL coach, coordinator Jim Schwartz gives Titans fresh voice to help defense
In hiring Jim Schwartz, the Tennessee Titans may have finally gotten what they needed on the defensive side of the ball.
The franchise announced this week that the longtime NFL coach, a defensive coordinator for the Titans during the Jeff Fisher era, was joining coach Mike Vrabel’s staff. His official title is senior defensive assistant.
While the exact parameters of Schwartz’s role are unclear, he brings a valuable voice from outside of the organization to help a defense that struggled mightily in 2020. That’s what many Titans observers had been looking for in the team’s next defensive coordinator – a fresh perspective – before Tennessee instead promoted outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen to the role, which he was already serving at a de-facto capacity.
In Schwartz, the Titans add a coach with 14 years of NFL experience as a coordinator and five years of experience as a head coach to their meeting room. As the Eagles defensive coordinator from 2016-20, he had autonomy as a play caller under an offensive-minded coach in Doug Pederson. Schwartz knows how to run a defense.
And Schwartz's hire brings local appeal, too, as he’s had success in Nashville before. The Titans ranked fifth in rushing yards allowed and sixth in third-down defense in his eight-year span as the defensive coordinator. In his last year in the role in 2008, the defense ranked third in points allowed, second in passing yards allowed and fifth in sacks.
The Titans’ moves this offseason have indicated that defensive personnel, and not coaching, was the primary issue. They initiated a cap purging of their secondary and bolstered the pass rush, while keeping their defensive coaching staff largely in-tact, albeit shuffling parts. Prior to Schwartz’s hire, the most significant defensive coaching moves for Tennessee were in-house promotions: Bowen given the formal title of defensive coordinator, and Ryan Crow to outside linebackers coach.
We don’t know the full scope of Schwartz’s job. And we don’t really know how Bowen’s role from last year is different. But we know the Titans have added a veteran defensive mind from outside the organization to their meeting room.
Time will tell if the addition of Schwartz, coupled with organizational clarity on Bowen’s role and the concerted effort to improve the defensive personnel, will make the Titans defense better in 2021.