Jim Schwartz acknowledged that he wanted to be careful about his next job opportunity after being fired as head coach of the Detroit Lions.
But to hear him talk about the opportunity he has to work with the Buffalo Bills as their defensive coordinator, it sounded like saying “yes” to head coach Doug Marrone’s job offer last Friday was the ultimate no-brainer. Schwartz was officially introduced as Bills defensive coordinator at One Bills Drive on Monday afternoon.
He replaces Mike Pettine, who after one season as Bills’ defensive coordinator accepted the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns last week.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for a defensive coordinator,” said Schwartz. “There are some real positives we can build on here.”
The biggest pluses for Schwartz – a unit that has some talent, including a defensive line that featured three Pro Bowlers (end Mario Williams, tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus) in this past Sunday’s annual all-star showcase and a back-end led by three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd. Schwartz also said he’s thrilled to get the chance to work with defensive backs Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin, cornerbacks he’s admired from afar – going back to their college days.
“We certainly have some good pieces in place to work around and we’re excited to get back to work,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz, who has a reputation for coaching aggressive, hard-to-play-against defenses, inherits a unit that finished second in the NFL in both sacks and interceptions but finished just 28th against the run. The Bills gave up a league-high 19 runs of 20 yards or more.
That’s something Marrone hopes will change under Schwartz, who in his eight seasons as defensive coordinator with Tennessee guided a unit that ranked sixth or better against the run each season and allowed the fewest rushing yards in 2003.
“We are excited we were able to hire a defensive coordinator with a tremendous track record,” said Marrone.
Among the reasons Marrone cited for hiring Schwartz, who went 29-51 in five seasons as Lions coach:
- His defenses are very tough to game plan against.
- His defenses are very difficult to run on.
- His defenses have a reputation for being tough.
“Professionally I’ve known Jim for quite a while,” Marrone said. “Having watched his defenses and how they’ve played ... It goes back to my original theory. You look at high end defensive coordinators you look at people who you don’t like going against their defenses. ...We were very fortunate ... to get on a plane to Mobile, sit down with Jim and get this done.”