Multiple reports indicate the long-time Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn is in the process of signing on as the Eagles defensive line coach. Washburn, 61, has been with Tennessee for 12 seasons. If the reports are true, Washburn would replace deposed Rory Segrest on the Eagles defensive staff – and it might very well indicate that the Eagles intend to stay with a 4-3 defensive alignment. This would fall in line with the working theory that Green Bay’s Mike Trgovac could be approached for defensive coordinator after the NFL postseason has ended.
Over the last 11 seasons, the Titans rank sixth in the NFL and fourth in the AFC in sacks (434) and have set a team record for sacks twice during that period (1999 and 2000).
It was assumed that the Eagles would wait to hire a defensive line coach until a new defensive coordinator was in place, but Washburn (considered the best in the league) is a major coup. Known for his fiery demeanor, Washburn has consistently received a great deal of effort and production from his positional group that has gone through a number of personnel changes in each of his 12 years with the Tennessee organization. Players and coaches consistently respect Washburn for his passion, his professionalism and his effectiveness. This would also fall in line with the Eagles desire to bring in more seasoned defensive assistants.
Washburn has demonstrated the ability to develop talent, molding players like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jevon Kearse, John Thornton, Robaire Smith, Antwan Odom, Kevin Carter, Albert Haynesworth and Tony Brown into top-flight producers. During his tenure, four of his players (Kearse, Vanden Bosch, Carter, Haynesworth) have earned a total of nine Pro Bowl selections.
Last year, the Tennessee defensive line accounted for 24 of the Titans’ 32 sacks and continued to see growth of Tony Brown and Jason Jones into top flight defensive tackles. Over the last two seasons, each rank tied for seventh in NFL defensive tackle sacks with nine each. Also, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch made his third Pro Bowl appearance.
In 2008, the Titans received sack production from nine different defensive linemen, who accounted for 39.5 sacks of the team’s 44 sack total and led the NFL in defensive line sacks. Five of the nine players never had registered a sack entering the season. For his work with the unproven talent, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King named Washburn his Assistant Coach of the Year for 2008.
In 2007, the defensive line produced two Pro Bowl selections (Vanden Bosch and Haynesworth); and for the first time since 1993, the franchise had four defensive linemen with six or more sacks (Vanden Bosch, Odom, Haynesworth, LaBoy) and a total of 36.0 sacks from the defensive line. In 2005, veteran free agent Vanden Bosch joined the Titans in need of a second chance after spending an injury-filled four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals where he totaled five sacks. Under the coaching of Washburn and finally healthy, Vanden Bosch became a dominant defensive force for the Titans.
Washburn’s most heralded and successful project was the education of Jevon Kearse. His conversion from a college linebacker into an NFL defensive end helped change the game as we knew it. Kearse set an NFL rookie record for sacks (14.5) and in his five years with the Titans posted 47.5 sacks and earned three Pro Bowl invites.
Washburn spent one season at the University of Houston after four seasons as the defensive line coach at the University of Arkansas from 1994-97. Washburn went to Arkansas after coaching the Charlotte Rage of Arena Football in 1993. He also served as defensive coordinator for the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football in 1992 after a year as their defensive line coach in 1991. Washburn was head coach of the Charlotte Barons, helping the team to a national championship.
Before entering the professional coaching ranks, Washburn was the defensive line coach at South Carolina from 1983-88 and at New Mexico from 1980-82. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Southern Methodist University in 1976. He then spent two seasons (1977-78) as defensive coordinator at Lees McRae Junior College (worked under Titans scout Cole Proctor, who was the head coach) before moving to Livingston University as defensive coordinator in 1979.
A native of Shelby, N.C. (12/2/49), Washburn was a four-year letterman at Gardner Webb College, where he earned his bachelor’s in physical education in 1973. He added his master’s degree from North Carolina A&T in 1975. Washburn and his wife, Sandy, have three children, Jessica, Brady, Jeremiah, daughters-in-law Susan and Ashley and six grandchildren, Allison Grace, Luke, Drew, Avery Jane, Megan and Cash.
Jim Washburn Coaching Ledger
1999-10: Defensive Line, Tennessee Titans
1998: Defensive Line, University of Houston
1994-97: Defensive Line, University of Arkansas
1993: Assistant Coach, Charlotte Rage (Arena Football League)
1992: Defensive Coordinator, London Monarchs (WLAF)
1991: Defensive Line, London Monarchs (WLAF)
1990: Head Coach, Charlotte Barons
1983-88: Defensive Line, University of South Carolina
1980-82: Defensive Line, University of New Mexico
1979: Defensive Coordinator, Livingston University
1977-78: Defensive Coordinator, Lees McRae Junior College
1976: Graduate Assistant, Southern Methodist University
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Written by Christopher Rowe
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