No grudges for Jim Schwartz: ‘I root for the Lions’

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Jim Schwartz

Allen Park – Nearly four years removed from coaching the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz holds no animosity toward his former employer. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“I think you guys would probably be surprised how much I root for the Lions,” Schwartz told Philadelphia reporters on Thursday. “As long as it's not in direct conflict with the Eagles, I want those guys to win every week. I've got too much blood and sweat in that building, and there's a lot of guys there that mean an awful lot to me.

“I'm going to do my very best to try to beat them, but I think everybody would be surprised how much you have relationships that just don't go away when you leave or a player leaves,” Schwartz said. “Those guys have had my back when I coached there, and I've had their back, and I'm sure that'll continue. Not this Sunday, though.”

Schwartz leads an Eagles defense into Ford Field that ranks third in yardage and first in points allowed.

This won’t be his first trip back to Detroit. During the 2014 season, while working as the defensive coordinator in Buffalo, he coached here twice.

He helped lead the Bills to a 17-14 win over the Lions in Week 5, then returned in Week 12, when the league moved the team’s matchup against the Jets to Ford Field after snowstorms dumped several feet of snow on Buffalo.

Schwartz has also been back multiple times during the offseason to visit the area he called home for five years.

“I don't have very many friends, but my wife has a lot of friends,” Schwartz said. “I've certainly enjoyed my time there, and it'll be part of our family's life, not just my life, it'll be part of our family's life.”

Lions' Golden Tate on slump: 'It's all in my head'

Hired by the Lions in 2009, following the only 0-16 season in NFL history, Schwartz oversaw a rebuild that had the Lions qualify for the postseason in just three years. He regrets not being able to achieve loftier goals.

“Well, our goal was to win a championship, and we didn't get that done,” he said. “I was disappointed with that. I'm sure the people of Detroit were disappointed with that. You know, I think the same thing here. We start 3-0, that's not enough.

“We're trying to win games, and I didn't win enough in Detroit. Hopefully we can change that here.”

Continued success in Philadelphia could earn Schwartz consideration for upcoming coaching vacancies, but he says that’s not something he’s thinking about right now.

“Yeah, I'm just trying to stay off the hot seat,” he said. “The way this league is, you don't have time to think about a whole lot other than doing your job. I'm trying to do my job. I'm trying to put our defense in position to help us win games, and if I can do a good job of that, then I'll be happy.”