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WANTED: Defensive Coordinator
Posted By Christopher Rowe On Jan 25 2011 @ 4:28 pm In Philadelphia,Philadelphia Eagles | 12 Comments
Two weeks ago, the Eagles 2010 season was over, thanks to a loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Those same Packers will now represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV. Meanwhile the Eagles have been busily reworking their coaching staff.
Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott was first to go, followed quickly by defensive line coach Rory Segrest. McDermott quickly found a new home in Carolina with former Eagles coach Ron Rivera, now head coach of the Panthers.
Browns new head coach Pat Shurmur (another Reid disciple) indicated Jauron was his top choice for the job. Jauron and Shurmur have known each other for years. Jauron played and coached with Shurmur’s uncle, Fritz, in Green Bay. Jauron has previous experience as a coordinator and he was head coach in Buffalo (2006-2009) and Chicago (199-2003), posting a 60-82 record. Jauron also has ties to Browns president Mike Holmgren, working as Green Bay defensive backs coach. Under Jauron, the Eagles secondary had 23 interceptions last season, third best in the NFC. Cornerback Asante Samuel had seven picks and made the Pro Bowl.
Linebackers coach Bill Shuey, who’s been with the Eagles since 2001 and served as linebackers coach the last three years, will not have his contract renewed. Unlike defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and defensive line coach Rory Segrest, who had time remaining on their contracts and were fired, Shuey simply will not have his contract renewed. The story was first reported by FOXsports.com and has been confirmed by several reliable sources.
Shuey was working for the Eagles during Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala at the time this story broke, indicating that he had no idea the news was coming. The news did not come from Andy Reid, who has been media silent since the Eagles playoff departure. At that time, Reid had been supportive of the notion of retaining the services of both McDermott and Jauron.
Shuey joined the Eagles in 2001 as an entry-level assistant to the head coach and spent the next six years as a quality-control coach, the first five on offense and the last one on defense. When Eagles defensive backs coach John Harbaugh left after the 2007 season to become head coach of the Ravens, McDermott switched from linebackers to secondary and Shuey was promoted to linebackers coach, and he held that job the last three seasons. Shuey grew up in Bethlehem, home of Lehigh University, where the Eagles hold their training camp. In 1999 and 2000, while still working as a teacher and football coach at Pennridge High School in nearby Perkasie, he worked as a coaching intern during training camp.
Team braintrust has their target in mind but aren’t letting it slip anytime soon! External candidates for the Eagles Defensive Coordinator position consisted of names like Saints secondary coach Dennis Allen, Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Dean Pees and former head coach Jim Mora, Jr. but none of those were serious candidates. Call it due dilligence or a smoke screen, the team knows who it wants.
Allen, the only candidate the Eagles publicy interviewed for their defensive coordinator job, has accepted the same position with the Denver Broncos. Allen began his NFL coaching career with the Falcons, including a stint under Mora, who never interviewed for the Eagles vacancy. Another name bandied about was deposed
Arizona Cardinals Bill Davis, who has been a defensive coordinator for four years – two years with the 49ers and two years with the Cards – and coached units ranked 30th or worse three times. That’s abyssmal. Former Eagles assistant coach John Harbaugh cleared up conflicting reports
regarding Pees -indicating that he would not grant the Eagles permission to approach his staff. During this tumult, the Eagles very swiftly land former Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn (http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/eagles-eye-defensive-line-coach/ ), a veteran coach in NFL, NCAA, WLAF/NFL Europe and Arena League (http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/washburn-brings-defensive-hope/ )
Does this mean that in merely two weeks the Eagles have exhausted their list of candidates? Well… maybe they’ve depleted candidates that we know of… publicly. There is an NFL rule that you cannot approach sitting NFL coaches about a new position until their current season has been completed. As far as we know, Philadelphia had not formally asked permission to interview anybody on the staff of the Chicago Bears or New York Jets, the two teams that lost in the conference championship games on Sunday. Curiouser and curiouser…
Candidates like Bears linebackers coach Bob Babich and Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, (who doesn’t have a chance to totally run a defense under Jets head coach Rex Ryan) or Jets secondary coach Dennis Thurman are now available for interviews with permission from their current teams. No announcements of scheduled interviews have been made and none are likely until after the Senior Bowl.
If the Eagles’ top choice or choices are with the Steelers or Packers, such as Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac (http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/familiar-names-for-defensive-coordinator/ ) or Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton or linebackers coach Keith Butler, the Eagles would not be allowed to interview them until after the Super Bowl, which is still 12 days away.
Head coach Andy Reid has not spoken publicly since the day after the Eagles’ season ended with a loss to the Packers in a wild-card game. He has not addressed McDermott’s dismissal, the firing of defensive line coach Rory Segrest, the hiring of his replacement, veteran Jim Washburn, or the team’s ongoing search for his third defensive coordinator in the last four years. Andy Reid’s massive overhaul of his defensive coaching staff has occurred seemingly without comment from Andy Reid.
With these three departures, Reid for the moment has just three defensive coaches on his staff — former players Mike Zordich and Mike Caldwell and recently hired defensive line coach Jim Washburn. Although their futures are unknown, the Eagles currently list Zordich as a “defensive quality control coach” and Caldwell as “assistant linebackers coach” but it is assumed that neither could return in 2011.
The Eagles went 10-6 this year and won the NFC East with the No. 12 defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed, but they allowed a franchise-record 31 passing touchdowns, plus three more in the playoff loss to the Packers.
The Eagles have had just one Pro Bowl linebacker in the last decade — Jeremiah Trotter, a Ray Rhodes draft pick. In three seasons with Shuey as their position coach, Eagles linebackers generated a total of 14 sacks and 4 INTin 48 regular-season games. Under Jauron, the Eagles secondary had 23 interceptions last season, third best in the NFC. Cornerback Asante Samuel had seven picks and made the Pro Bowl.
There was no comment or statement on the team cutting ties with Shuey. Reid was not at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Monday, and although there’s still a chance he could join his remaining assistants and GM Howie Roseman in Mobile, he’s not currently scheduled to make the trip.
So add it up. Andy Reid (or Joe Banner/Howie Roseman) decided a complete defensive overhaul was needed for the coaching staff. All remnants of Jim Johnson disciples have moved on to become head coaches or coordinators elsewhere. Washburn, an old-school defensive line technician with no desire to become a coordinator is firmly in place. It’s difficult to imagine the Eagles would follow up the hiring of a defensive line coach with the hiring of … another defensive line coach.
Mike Trgovac, a line coach here in Philly under Ray Rhodes and the Packers’ line coach the last two years, made perfect sense as a top candidate for defensive coordinator – until Washburn came aboard. Coordinators spend a good portion of their time working with their position of trade, it wouldn’t make sense to hire a second line specialist while leaving the secondary and linebacker spots manned only by position coaches.
Think about the people the Eagles have been known to be at least somewhat interested in so far. The one person they’ve actually interviewed is Dennis Allen, who had been the Saints’ secondary coach and took the Defensive coordinator job in Denver – under John Fox, former Carolina head coach and Giants defensive coordinator. This indicates Allen was not ready to be defensive coordinator in practice, merely in name (a la Sean McDermott in Philly and Carolina) not unlike Mike Trgovac under Dom Capers in Green Bay.
The Eagles had contacted Jim Mora Jr., who came up as a secondary coach with the Chargers, Saints and 49ers before getting his first coordinator job with the 49ers in 1999. Even Dick Jauron, who apparently was never much of a serious candidate for the Eagles, has been a secondary coach.
Does this mean the focus is secondary coach or possibly linebackers coach? The Eagles have one of each currently on the coaching roster – former Eagles Mike Caldwell and Mike Zordich. Even if they are retained, they’re young coaches just starting out in the NFL. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top candidates that might be on the Eagles’ radar 12 days after McDermott’s dismissal and 10 days before the Super Bowl, after which guys currently on the Steelers and Packers staffs will finally become available for interviews.
Bowles was a hard-hitting safety at Temple in the mid-1980s. He went on to an eight-year NFL career with the Redskins and 49ers and after retiring, went to work on the player personnel side with the Packers. He coached at a couple colleges before serving as secondary coach with the Jets (2000), Browns (2001-04), Cowboys (2005-07) and Dolphins (2008-10).
Eagles connection: Bowles worked for the Packers under Mike Holmgren in 1995 and 1996 while Reid was on Holmgren’s staff.
Need somebody to teach a defense to be physical? Hauck just finished his second year coaching defensive backs with the Titans, where he shared a meeting room with Washburn. After retiring following a 13-year NFL career, Hauck coached for four years at his alma mater, Montana.
Eagles connection: Hauck spent the 1999 through 2001 seasons with the Eagles and became one of the most popular defensive players of the past decade because of his huge hits and reckless disregard for his body. Also Washburn is a connection but promoting him to coordinator might be a stretch.
Horton is in his seventh year with the Super Bowl-bound Steelers (under Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau) and fourth year as secondary coach. He played in two Super Bowls during his 10-year NFL career and is about to coach in his third.
Eagles connection: Horton was secondary coach on head coach and current Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s Detroit Lions staff in 2002.
The Packers’ linebacker coach was the only defensive coach retained by Mike McCarthy after the 2008 season, and now carries the assistant head coach tag plus coaching linebackers for McCarthy. Moss played 11 NFL seasons with the Buccaneers, Raiders and Seahawks and coached with the Seahawks and Saints before heading to Green Bay in 2006. 
Eagles connection: Moss played with the legendary Jerome Brown at Miami and the slightly less legendary Ron Heller in Tampa.
One-time Penn State DB is finishing his second year as the Packers’ defensive backs coach – having coached with the Bengals, Raiders and Steelers. Perry experienced an outstanding 10-year playing career.
Eagles connection: In 2007 and 2008, Perry was Nnamdi Asomugha’s position coach with the Raiders, and we all know Nnamdi is about to sign with the Eagles any minute now, CBA or not! Right? Right?
Thurman spent most of his nine-year NFL career with the Cowboys, coached with Rex Ryan with the Ravens before accompanying him to New York as Ryan became head coach. Thurman is currently Ryan’s defensive backs coach. With both the Ravens and Jets, he led secondary units that were perennially ranked among the best in the NFL.
Eagles connection: Last time the Eagles brought in a defensive coordinator who was a former USC safety it worked pretty well – that was Jeff Fisher 22 years ago. Thurman and Fisher were teammates for one year at USC and just like Fisher coached under Buddy Ryan, Thurman has coached under Rex Ryan.
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