(Photo by Photo by Philly Bleed Green on Tumbler)
With no analyst or fan (even in the City of Brotherly Love) willing to pick the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East, it is easy to forget all parts of the team. Almost everyone hates the hiring of Doug Pedersen as head coach, cannot get the taste of last season out of their mouths, and Sam Bradford is back while facing no future past 2016.
But with competent assistant coaching hires, especially with defensive coordinator Schwartz, more optimism should be around as one unit can be the backbone of this team.
In Schwartz’s last three stops as defensive coordinator, the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, teams have had winning records (32-16) and allowed an average of just 17.1 PPG. Most significantly, his units have averaged 46.0 sacks, the most achievable for a fantasy defense. Sure, the quality of offenses truly matter as inept offenses can positively alter the fortunes of defenses, but the Titans and Bills have done this as one of two winning teams in their respective divisions.
In the listed stops, Schwartz has faced Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts four times and Tom Brady’s New England Patriots twice.
Philadelphia’s personnel are nothing to joke about either. The defense allowed 20.5 points per game with linebacker Jordan Hicks making the calls and creating game-breaking play before he went down with a pectoral muscle injury. The difference was pretty significant as it allowed 12.8 more points without him. With extra linebacker depth as newcomers and Schwartz disciples, Stephen Tulloch and Nigel Bradham, come into the fold, there should be less to worry about in case Hicks goes down with an injury again.
Best of all, Fletcher Cox will be moving back to 4-3 defensive tackle, a position closer to higher sack totals. After committing 9.5 sacks with too little rest and at a sack-unfriendly position (3-4 defensive end), look for Cox’s sack totals to match or surpass his 2015 total, particularly with Schwartz’s Wide-9 formation coming back. The Wide-9 was employed by the Eagles under then defensive line coach Jim Washburn in 2011 and helped the unit sack quarterbacks 50.0 times.
By having Schwartz’s knack for success, Chip Kelly’s depressing last-place time-of-possession offense long gone, and the personnel under better conditions, the Eagles defense is a near guarantee for fantasy success. Under these circumstances, the Eagles’ potential sack totals (46.0) and allowed points totals (17.1 PPG) could produce at least 3.9 fantasy points per game. In addition, Schwartz’s last three defenses averaging thirty-eight combined interceptions and forced fumbles are included. If the Eagles play anywhere to the level of those defenses, the extra point totals will increase the minimum to 6.3 defensive fantasy points per game.
This projection is a conservative estimate as defenses have to be treated judiciously. But do not worry. With defensive touchdowns and points off special teams and safeties, you will not regret the Eagles defense as your sure-fire bet.