Jim Schwartz will finally get a chance to be a field coach for the Browns. The last time he was in Cleveland, he did a lot of things for the Browns but coaching wasn’t among them.
“Well, I mean, we’ve been doing a lot of things,” Browns Hall of Famer and former Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsom said by phone to the Beacon Journal on Tuesday. “I don’t think you can sit there and say, ‘That’s what he did.'” We will, we all did what Bill (Belichick) asked us to do, and Bill and Mike (Lombardi) asked us to do.”
Schwartz, 56, will be the Browns’ defensive coordinator for the 2023 season, replacing Joe Woods. Schwartz, then 26 years old, was just another of Belichick’s famous “Slappies” when he started with the original franchise during the 1993 season.
Jim Schwartz will be hired by the Browns:Jim Schwartz to replace Cleveland Browns Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods
Officially, Schwartz’s nickname was Professional Scout. Indeed, like many other entrants Belichick brought into the organization promising meager wages and long hours, his responsibilities were pretty much anything he could think of, some even football-related.
Newsom, whose title in 1993 was assistant head coach/offensive/professional personnel before he was promoted to director of player personnel in 1994, said Schwartz’s strengths fit perfectly with his somewhat undefined role.
“Well, he can multitask,” Newsom said. “It was very, very good from a detail standpoint.”
Schwartz held a scouting role with the Browns until the day the franchise moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season. When the move occurred, it may have signaled the end of Schwartz’s NFL dreams, at least with the Browns switching to the Ravens.
However, there was someone on the Ravens’ coaching staff who opened the door for Schwartz to not only keep his goal of working in the NFL, but also work in a major league fielding role.
“It was Marvin Lewis,” said Newsom, who was the Ravens’ director of personnel from 1996 to 2001 before being promoted to general manager in 2002. “When we came from Cleveland, we had too many positions on the scouting staff, and (Baltimore head coach) Ted (Marchibroda) hired Marvin to be the defensive coordinator. And so I asked Marvin would he interview Jim for the quality control job he had available. He did. He fell in love with him, and that’s what I started training with.”
The Ravens hired Schwartz to be the defensive quality control coach under Lewis. At the time, Lewis was not connected to the unproven assistant, having worked with the Browns’ rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, during the 1995 season.
Still, for Lewis, Newsom’s word was as good as any to convince him to take a chance on Schwartz.
“When I took the job, Ozzie said, ‘Hey, we hired a guy here this last year,’” Lewis told the Beacon Journal on Tuesday from Arizona, where he works as a special advisor for the ASU football program. “He doesn’t have to do a lot, but he is. smart man. He works so hard and I think it’s worth it when you’re talking to him and trying to see if we can keep him around.” And he was right.”
Football knowledge was one of the things that impressed Lewis, who was in his first year as defensive coordinator after coaching linebackers with the Steelers. In fact, one of Schwartz’s primary duties once he was assigned a fielding role in Baltimore was to assist linebackers coach Maxie Baughan.
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But the thing that sets it apart is its ability to communicate with the players themselves. It was not just about communication, but about teaching as well.
“That first year, Jimmy, really, just about his ability to serve as a helper for me, but also about his ability to see me, for me watching him help coach guys on the field and so forth all the time,” Lewis said. “You know, you could just tell he was very smart. He had a great way of getting players where they could understand him.
“And that’s the key element of this job, no matter how much we know, we can pass it on to them and they can keep it. And Jimmy had a great talent for that. You can see that very early on in ’96 season.”
Schwartz spent the next two seasons with the Ravens in a similar role. Lewis tried to promote him to a larger outfield role, but he could not convince Marchibroda to move on.
That didn’t stop Lewis from making sure he was an essential part of the defensive apparatus, especially the assisting linebacker. At the time, that group included future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and 1997 Defensive Rookie of the Year Peter Boulware.
“We didn’t have much success with Coach Marchibroda, but Jimmy continued to work behind the scenes a little bit,” Lewis said. “Our midfield coach was Maxi Baughan at the time, who had a lot of experience, wealth and knowledge and he was fantastic. Jimmy was a great complement to him, but Jimmy continued to expand his role and his opportunity and his contributions with me as coordinator as well, in terms of game planning and everything that way.”
Marchebroda was fired after the Ravens went 6-10 in the 1998 season. Although Lewis retained Marchebroda’s successor, Brian Bellick, and went on to win a Super Bowl in the 2000 season, the new system did not retain Schwartz.
Despite this, Lewis remained very high on potential for Schwartz. He persuaded Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and his defensive coordinator at the time, Greg Williams, to hire the promising.
Schwartz served as a defensive assistant for the Titans in the 1999 AFC Championship Game, before finally landing a coveted running backs coach role in 2000. When Williams left to become the Buffalo Bills’ head coach in 2001, Schwartz was promoted to defensive coordinator, a role he has kept. Until he left for his own coaching opportunity with the Detroit Lions in 2009.
Lewis became the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003. He admits there has been an evolution in Schwartz’s planning philosophy since he started with him in Baltimore to what is now a staple of his former protégé, the Wide Nine Front.
“When I took over the coordinator over there in Baltimore with the past they had in Cleveland, I kept most of the key terms and so forth,” Lewis said. “The methods and the things they did under coach Belichick and (defensive line) coach (Jacob Burney) we rehired. But when Jimmy left and he continued to coach with Jim Washburn over there at Tennessee and so forth, wide nine and the things they’ve continued to develop since Then. That was over time.”
The time eventually led Schwartz back to where his NFL career began: Cleveland.
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