Tul­loch, Schwartz set for re­turn to Detroit

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

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

month hon­ors.

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.

RICK OSENTOSKI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE

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.

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