Sibling, Ravens rivalries test Titans aide Schwartz

ON THE NFL

Pro Football

September 02, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Five years ago, Jim Schwartz was a quality control coach with the Ravens on Marvin Lewis' defensive staff, a hometown boy who made good.

Today, Schwartz, 35, is the youngest defensive coordinator in the NFL on the team - the Tennessee Titans - that poses perhaps the greatest threat to the Ravens' reign as Super Bowl champions. As he learned last season in Nashville, that juxtaposition can cause some familial awkwardness when the two teams meet.

"I had to make a rule last year when the Ravens played here," said Schwartz, in his third season with the Titans. "Anybody calling me for tickets, you cheer for the Titans. I don't want any [relatives] coming down here with their Ravens' hat and bag."

Schwartz's father, with the same first name, lives in Arbutus. Most of his seven sisters and one brother live in the Baltimore area. Some loyalties have been strained, says Schwartz, who attended Mount St. Joseph High and Georgetown University.

"My dad's a full-blown Titans fan," he said. "My brother-in-law straddles the fence. My father-in-law is a big-time Ravens fan. But if the Ravens play the Titans, he'll still root for the Titans."

Despite his seeming meteoric rise in coaching profile - he coached linebackers a year ago - Schwartz insists he hasn't traveled the fast track.

"I was a grad assistant at [the University of] Maryland," he said. "I was a grad assistant at Minnesota. I was a secondary and part-time defensive coordinator at North Carolina Central. And I was a linebacker coach at Colgate - all in four years. And I never made any money. I went to Cleveland [to work with the Browns] as an unpaid intern in scouting.

"For everybody who says, `You've been coming on fast,' they don't know the whole story. This is my ninth year in the NFL. That experience, and all the struggles I've gone through, has paid off."

When Gregg Williams left the Titans to be head coach of the Buffalo Bills in February, Schwartz was promoted to defensive coordinator. That was just a week after his wife, Kathleen, gave birth to twins, Christian and Alison.

Schwartz inherits a defense that led the NFL in seven categories, including fewest yards allowed. He still applies the lessons Lewis taught him.

"I owe a lot to Marvin because he gave me a lot of responsibility there," Schwartz said. "The thing I learned from him is how he progressed as a coordinator. From where he was when I was there and what we ran then, and when they won the Super Bowl, the defensive scheme remained the same, but it was vastly simplified. He got to the point where he had enough confidence in his players that he would just let his players play. I sort of guard on that a little bit here."

Schwartz is not daunted by the success of the team's defense a year ago, either.

"People say, `How are you going to be as good this year?' " he said. "Heck, we're not going to be as good as we were last year, we're going to be better. That's the mind-set we've taken into our meetings. We go out and get [defensive end] Kevin Carter. We have to replace a cornerback, a free safety. You can't go out with the philosophy that we're going to stay the same because it's not going to work.

"We're an effort team. Our scheme does not win games for us. What wins games is guys playing hard, guys tackling, guys that understand the scheme. ... The stewardship of my job is to make sure that doesn't change."

Manning sits one out

How durable is the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning? The fourth-year veteran has started 48 consecutive regular-season games, the second longest streak among NFL quarterbacks behind Brett Favre's record of 141.

He has taken 2,966 snaps of a possible 2,987 during that time. And, going back to his prep days at Isidore Newman High in New Orleans, Manning had started 150 straight games: 39 in high school, 45 at the University of Tennessee and 66 with the Colts, including preseason and postseason games.

The latter streak ended Thursday night when Manning missed a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals because of a sprained right knee suffered the week before. Manning says he could have played Thursday, but was held out as a cautionary move.

Colts coach Jim Mora was taking no chances in the preseason finale. He also held out running back Edgerrin James and wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and still beat the Bengals, 23-17.

Still searching

The flip side of Manning's situation is Cincinnati's quarterback dilemma. When Jon Kitna debuts on opening day, he will become the Bengals' ninth starting quarterback since 1992. That list includes Boomer Esiason, David Klingler, Jay Schroeder, Jeff Blake, Neil O'Donnell, Paul Justin, Akili Smith and Scott Mitchell.

In the past three years, the Bengals have changed quarterbacks five times. No wonder they're only 11-37 in that time.

In Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck will be the Seahawks' sixth starter in six years next week.

Backlash in St. Louis

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