Tulloch, Schwartz set for return to Detroit
PHILADELPHIA >> Ah, the stories Stephen Tulloch could tell about his long-time coach, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
The duo has spent seven seasons together, including this one. They’ve been through a lot including the 2011 handshake scene gone viral on YouTube. The Jerry Springer Show came to Ford Field that day.
To recap, then Detroit Lions head coach Schwartz was on the losing end of a clash with the Niners and counterpart Jim Harbaugh who, full of adrenaline and perhaps himself, followed the traditional postgame handshake with a rough slap on the back that so irked Schwartz, he went after his conqueror.
Luckily the base defense was on the field for the Lions, as it interrupted Schwartz’s beeline toward Harbaugh, averting a melee.
“I was right around it, yeah,” Tulloch said Monday. “I thought it was a joke at first. I didn’t think it was real, to be honest. I thought they knew each other. But it was just funny. Now we can laugh about it.
I don’t know whose fault it was but obviously it went down, we laughed about it after and we’ve moved on from that.”
Tulloch and Schwartz have much in common, their professional association beginning with the Tennessee Titans and winding through Detroit with a current stop in South Philly. First and foremost, they both were shown the door by the Lions, who the Eagles oppose Sunday in Detroit.
“Whenever you can get a chance a chance to get back there and play against your former team, yeah, you get amped up,” Tulloch said. “He hasn’t spoken about it. Nor will he speak about it. That’s just who he is. But I’m sure he’s geared up and ready to play as we all are.”
The Eagles are 3-0 and basically 100 percent healthy coming off their bye week. The surprising start is a product of defense, the Fletcher Cox-led Birds leading the league with just 27 points allowed, and the ever-evolving skills of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Cox was named NFC defensive player of the month in September. Wentz earned NFL rookie of the
The strength of the Eagles’ defense is the line. You’d have a tough time finding a more skilled nucleus of pass rushers than Cox, Brandon Graham, Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry. Add safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod to an energetic linebacker crew schooled by Tulloch, who knows the Schwartz scheme inside and out, and you have the makings of something that could be special.
Tulloch has a good feeling about this Eagles team, much like he did with the Lions after exiting the Titans to join them in 2011. That Detroit team finished 10-6.
“Detroit hadn’t been in the playoffs for 10 years,” Tulloch said. “He was able to get them there for the first time in 10 years and was let go, unfortunately.”
Schwartz wasn’t the Lions’ best head coach. He guided them to a 29-51 record, including one winning season, from 2009-13. He inherited a franchise that was 0-16 and obsessed with taking wide receivers off the board with its firstround draft picks.
The front office people who fired Schwartz aren’t with the Lions. Tom Lewand is CEO of Shinola Detroit. We couldn’t make that up. Martin Mayhew
works in football operations with the New York Giants. They’ve learned what Schwartz and Tulloch did; pink slips are not much fun. Tulloch was axed this past offseason.
“It’s the business,” Tulloch said. “I’ve been in the NFL 11 years now and it’s the first time I ever was let go. I understand it’s a business move, new front office. I’m very thankful to the organization for bringing me in there and giving me an opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting back out there in front of the fans in Detroit.”
Tulloch, a career middle linebacker, is trying to do for the Eagles ’backers what he did for the Lions.
“A lot of those guys text me every week, the linebackers especially,” Tulloch said. “(DeAndre) Levy and Kyle Van Noy. And Tahir Whitehead (Temple) and those guys. It’s a family, man. I’ve seen those guys grow up over the course of their careers. To see them finally starting and doing well, I’m proud of those guys and what they are. They’ve come so far.”
The same could be said of Tulloch and Schwartz, who’s slated to speak to the media Thursday.
In a short amount of time, the Eagles have come a long way.
In this photo, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, right, shout at each other after a game in Detroit.