One of the first things that Doug Pederson did when he was named the new head coach in Philadelphia was to go out and hire Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator. Schwartz had also been a head coach in the league with the Detroit Lions, but his greatest success in the NFL came when he was strictly working on this side of ball.
Just to get you up to speed on how bad the Eagles' defense was last year in Chip Kelly's final season at the helm, here are a few stats to chew on. The Birds ended the 2015 regular season ranked 30th in the NFL in total yards allowed and 28th in total points allowed. They were equally as bad at stopping the pass as they were stopping the run with a ranking of 28th in total passing yards allowed complementing a rushing defense that was ranked dead-last in the NFL in total yards allowed.
That was then and this is now. I have made the mistake of getting too excited of things that happen in the preseason in the past, but it is hard to ignore the four interceptions the Eagles had against Pittsburgh in Thursday night's 17-0 shutout. One was returned for a touchdown and two of the other picks were in the end zone to thwart a pair of Steelers' scoring drives.
Granted it was Landry Jones throwing the ball not Ben Roethlisberger and just about all of Pittsburgh's top skill position players sat this game out. However, a shutout is still a shutout at any level of play in the NFL especially when it comes against one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
The Eagles' defense still has a long way to go before its play on the field starts to affect the team's ability to win games when they actually count in the standings, but Schwartz has already brought a whole new attitude to this unit that was obviously missing last year. From what we have seen from Philly's offense in the first two preseason games, I am starting to think that any success this team is going to have in the regular season this year could hinge heavily on the play of this new-look defense.