We last heard from Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz five days before they played their final game of the 2016 season.
Yeah, he's that difficult. And as such, he will be bombarded by dozens of questions when he faces the media later this morning as the Eagles kick off the second round of OTAs.
Here are some:
- What are his thoughts on first-round draft pick Derek Barnett and fellow defensive end Chris Long, the veteran free agent they picked up in the offseason? After all, his scheme is predicated on minimum blitzing because of the belief that his front four can do the job in the pass rush. Which brings us to the next question ...
- Can he adjust his defense to function at a high level if his front four needs help in getting to the quarterback?
- Is he as high on second-year cornerback Jalen Mills as safety Malcolm Jenkins appears to be? Why or why not?
- Because the Eagles are looking at a minimum of four new defensive starters and other newcomers in various playing rotations, is there enough time to get everyone on the same page?
- Will he adjust his front-four alignment to better exploit matchup problems that defensive tackle Fletcher Cox can create? Cox was at his best when he lined up in different spots in their old 3-4. Conversely, playing almost exclusively on the left side in their 4-3, he had tough matchups with elite guards Brandon Scherff (Washington) and Zack Martin (Dallas) in their divisional matchups last season.
- What's his level of concern that Cox has chosen not to attend OTAs?
- Will he have to call for more zone coverage schemes to better take advantage of his cornerbacks' skill sets? None of the Eagles' corners, with the possible exception of injured rookie Sidney Jones, who might not play at all this year, seem equipped with the kind of elite speed to stay with the league's fastest receivers deep down the field.
- Staying on the same subject, what does he like about all the newcomers at CB: Jones, Rasul Douglas, Jomal Wiltz, Randall Goforth and Patrick Robinson? That group constitutes half the corners on the roster, by the way.
- Does defensive end Marcus Smith have any shot at making a contribution after skipping OTAs?
- Can Vinny Curry ever get back to being the efficient pass-rush force that he was? His sack totals over the last two seasons combined (6.0) did not equal the 9.0 he produced in 2014 in just 371 snaps. He's played more than twice the amount of snaps since.
The Eagles have a lot of work to do to rebuild a playoff-caliber defense. Today begins the process of feeling out Schwartz for his thoughts on whether that can happen this season.