Eagles DC Jim Schwartz's handling of Eric Rowe a monumental blunder

Eagles DC Jim Schwartz's handling of Eric Rowe a monumental blunder

Remember that time Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz thought Leodis McKelvin was a better NFL cornerback than Eric Rowe?

Let's clear something up right away: Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was absolutely correct to trade Rowe to the Patriots for a conditional fourth-round draft pick. It was the right move because Schwartz wasn't going to let the kid see the field. Barring an injury to another player, Rowe wasn't even going to be active on game day. From a GM's point of view, all keeping him on the roster would've accomplished was further diminish his value to a potential suitor.

Where this whole situation gets bungled is when Schwartz determined, seemingly very early into his tenure with the Eagles that began last year, Rowe simply wasn't going to play for him. The club signed McKelvin, signed Ron Brooks, re-signed Nolan Carroll, then drafted Jalen Mills, all no doubt under heavy influence from the defensive coordinator — especially McKelvin and Brooks, who played for Schwartz for one season in Buffalo.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a new coach asking for some of "his" guys, people who know the scheme and bring a certain level of comfort to the equation. The problem is when one of those guys is 31 years old and was never particularly good to begin with, and said coach insists on that person playing a large role, without so much as the appearance of a legitimate competition.

We watched when the Eagles opened OTAs with McKelvin and Brooks as starting cornerbacks, assuming their knowledge of Schwartz's system made them natural choices in April. We watched as Mills, a seventh-round pick, saw his opportunities increase while Rowe lagged behind on the depth chart, figuring they were pushing the second-year player. We watched in training camp as Carroll — finally recovered from an ankle injury — was added to the mix at the top of the depth chart, and still there was nary a sign of Rowe. We even watched undrafted rookie C.J. Smith start an exhibition game, and less than two weeks later, Rowe is on the field for almost the entirety of the preseason finale, typically an audition for players who are about to be released.

So Roseman traded Rowe, a 24-year-old defensive back the Eagles chose 47th overall only 16 months earlier. You already have some idea of how that worked out — Rowe earned a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots, while McKelvin was released on Wednesday — but let's look at the numbers.

According to Pro Football Focus, Rowe ranked seventh out of 109 cornerbacks with 61.9 opponents' passer rating when targeted in coverage (minimum 25 percent of regular season/postseason snaps). McKelvin ranked 97th with a 113.0 opponents' passer rating.

It's not even close. We can talk about the differences in schemes between the two teams, supporting cast, quality of opponents, you name it. We can discuss experience, mentality, locker room presence, whatever.

There is absolutely no situation, no world where McKelvin was a better option than Rowe.

How on earth did Schwartz manage to make such a woefully wrong evaluation? McKelvin wasn't a starter for most of his nine-year NFL career before he joined the Eagles — he was benched and later moved to safety during his final season with the Bills. He's also seven years older and three inches shorter than Rowe, which would seem a distinct advantage in terms of pure physical ability. Honestly, what did Schwartz see that laypeople did not? Because the ugly end result was nothing less than what was predicted.

Rowe appears to be developing into a fine NFL cornerback, McKelvin is likely one more shoddy season away from forced retirement, and the Eagles are left with a mess at the cornerback position. Don't blame this one on Roseman, either. All he did was what Schwartz desired.

If nothing else, the defensive coordinator probably deserves to lose some of his sway in personnel decisions. Signing a one-year stopgap at the expense of a promising, young talent like Rowe might turn out to be a catastrophic setback, and for once, everybody knows exactly where to point the finger.

The Game of Zones-Joel Embiid mashup you didn't know you needed

The Game of Zones-Joel Embiid mashup you didn't know you needed

There are times in all of our Internet lives when we come across a piece of content that we don't quite understand, that we didn't really know we needed, yet fills our black Philadelphia sports fan hearts with joy anyway.

Today is one of those days.

And that piece of content is this Game of Zones x Embiid mashup.

If you're unfamiliar, this is the latest in Bleacher Report's fun take on a Game of Thrones/NBA mashup.

There's the mountain of a man that is Joel Embiid laid up with a presumably bum knee. There's the Temple of Shirley potion to give him life. There's the maester Sam Hinkie shouting off his analytics spells. There's Hinkie talking about growing the seeds and reaping the harvest. There's a terrifying looking Dario. There is a raising of the cat. 

Perhaps the best part is Jahlil Okafor attempting to hold the door.

What does it all mean? I don't know. But I trust it.

Jim Harbaugh takes blame for Jim Schwartz handshake feud

Jim Harbaugh takes blame for Jim Schwartz handshake feud

With one season in Philadelphia under Jim Schwartz’s belt, Eagles fans are well aware of the intensity the defensive coordinator brings to the sidelines. But before joining Doug Pederson's staff, Schwartz attracted plenty of attention during a five-year stint as head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2009-2013. A highlight of his tenure in the Motor City developed a new wrinkle this week.

Maybe the most memorable moment during his time in Detroit was the unnecessarily ugly midfield feud in 2011’s Week 6 with then-49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Schwartz marched to midfield for the postgame handshake after his Lions took their first loss of the season. Harbaugh, a usually-excited guy with cause for a little extra enthusiasm after a fourth straight win, came in too strong for Schwartz’s liking. Schwartz chased down Harbaugh as he ran for the tunnel and the two exchanged some choice words. Coaches and players flocked to the tussle. What started as standard postgame procedure became the national talking-point nobody needed for the ensuing week.

The six-year-old incident returned to the conversation this week with Harbaugh, now the head coach at the University of Michigan, admitting on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast (and as transcribed by ESPN) that he was to blame for things getting out of hand. 

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake," Harbaugh said on the podcast. "We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. ... There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as a loser. You just, 'Nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong."

On top of discussing his gifting Pope Francis a pair of Jordan sneakers and his theory that bringing a glove to catch a foul ball is acceptable for fans, Harbaugh went on to explain the last time he got in a real fight, as opposed to the silly scrum that went down at Ford Field that fateful day. He was 39, at the end of his days as a player, and got into it with two men at a restaurant.

"I did not win," he said. "I cannot say I won. I didn't get crushed, either. I got some blows in."

Harbaugh has a reputation for his passion, and the handshake debacle with Schwartz was no exception. It’s just that his passion often translates to doing things in a non-traditional way. He’s the khakis guy, always sporting his trademark dad-pants on the sidelines — he even tucked an Allen Iverson jersey into them once. He’ll do anything to get a leg up in recruiting, for example, sleeping over at a recruit's house for some “Netflix and Chill.”

Schwartz, similarly, is frequently fired up, and that aggression bleeds into his defensive scheme. 

Harbaugh is in the college game now, so the development in this nearly forgotten exchange isn’t life-changing. But if he ever returns to the pros, it’s good to know a postgame handshake with Schwartz wouldn't revive any bad blood.