First-year Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz returns to his old stomping grounds on Sunday, as the Eagles face his former team, the Detroit Lions. Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was drafted by Schwartz with the first overall pick in 2009, is now in his eighth season with the Lions. Schwartz served as the Lions' head coach from 2009-13, making the playoffs once (2012) with Stafford at the helm.
The Lions are off to a slow start this season at 1-3, but Stafford has gotten off to a nice start, throwing seven touchdown passes in four games.
Stafford may be seeing Schwartz on the opposite sideline on Sunday, but it's not quite a personal matchup for the Lions' quarterback.
"I'm not playing physically against him, just the guys that are in the uniform," Stafford said. "I'm sure anytime you go back and play another opponent that you used to coach for, to some capacity it probably means a decent amount.
"I have a lot of respect for him. He's the guy that brought me in here and gave me a chance. He stuck with me through some injuries early in my career. I have a lot of respect for him not only as a good guy, but as a coach as well."
To this point, Schwartz has been able to lead the Eagles' defense to the top of the list in points allowed at 9.0 per game on average. For those who have played under Schwartz previously, like Stafford, this comes as no surprise. From watching film on the first three games of the 2016 season, Stafford labeled the Eagles as "a really well-rounded defense that's playing at a high level right now."
"(The Eagles are a) really fast, physical team. They do a great job of playing really hard," Stafford said. "They have a really good defensive front, a good seven front and the back end has some playmakers as well."
Sunday's matchup will be the second time Stafford faces his former head coach. The first reunion was in the 2014 season during Schwartz's time with the Bills. The Lions fell to the Bills 17-14 at home, after being held scoreless by the Bills' defense in the second half.
Two seasons have passed since Stafford and Schwartz represented the same team, but Stafford can look back at his time with Schwartz as enjoyable.
"I have a lot of respect for him and what he was able to do with this organization and I enjoyed playing for him," the quarterback said.