By Justin Adkins:
The Eagles have announced the hiring of Jim Washburn as their new defensive line coach, replacing the fired Rory Segrest.
Washburn, formerly of Tennessee, has a fantastic repuatation and this hiring should be seen as a real upgrade.
“We are thrilled to add a quality defensive line coach in Jim Washburn,” said head coach Andy Reid in a statement. “He had a great tenure with Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans and he’ll play a big part in the development of our defensive line moving forward. He’s had a number of Pro Bowl players working under him over the years with the Titans and we’re happy to have him join our coaching staff in Philadelphia.”
“Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Jeff Fisher and the Titans organization for allowing a nobody like me to coach in the NFL for the last 12 years,” Washburn said. “An opportunity came along for me to join the Eagles and I felt like it was good timing. At this stage of my career, I’m ready to make a change. This is no reflection on the state of the Titans but just a good opportunity for me.
“My wife, Sandy, and I have long planned to make Middle Tennessee our home and that is still our plan. However, we look forward to moving to Philadelphia and joining a top-flight organization like the Eagles and work for a premier coach in Andy Reid.”
With young players like first-round pick Brandon Graham, Daniel Te’0-Nesheim, and Ricky Sapp needing all the help they can get, Washburn should have plenty of opportunity to work his magic.
Washburn had a direct hand in developting former Texans, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Eagles castoff Jason Babin into a Pro Bowl pass rusher this past season in Tennessee.
“It stinks that he’s leaving. He’s the greatest position coach I’ve ever had,” Babin told Jim Wyatt, of the Tennessean, the first to report the Eagles were talking to Washburn. “He’s the guy who poured water on me, let me have sunshine, gave me fertilizer, and really let me grow,” said Babin.
Could Washburn’s arrival bring Babin, soon to be a free agent, back to Philly?
“There’s been no “Hey Jason, ‘We want you in Philly‘ discussions, but it would be hard for me not to contemplate it,” Babin said.
Another player Washburn developed could also be considered a potential Eagles acquisition — disgruntled Redskins defensive tackle Albert Hayneworth.
The perpetually troubled Haynesworth flourished as a Titan under Washburn, turning two seasons and 14.5 sacks into one of the most ridiculous free agent contracts in NFL history, courtesy of the Washington Redskins. Two trouble-filled seasons since, and Haynesworth is likely on his way out. Actually, he would have been long gone by now if not for that comically awful contract.
And when he’s gone, it’s possible the Eagles will be first in line to give him another chance to prove he can still play. Haynesworth may exhibit poor behavior and questionable effort, but the Eagles have recently found success with another reclamation project known for being far, far worse, both in attitude and behavior. If they can give Michael Vick a second chance, it’s hard to think they’d pass on a guy like Haynesworth. Especially when he plays a position that for the Eagles is in desperate need of a makeover.
The Eagles situation at defensive tackle doesn’t get as much attention as their deficiencies at linebacker or in the secondary, but it’s arguably in the worst shape of the three.
Former first-round picks Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley are average at best. Despite his dramatic, Corey Simon-esque size gain, Patterson is hardly stout at the point of his attack. His rear end may have its own area code, but he spends more time on his back than the hired girlfriends of New York politicians. And he’s even less effective rushing the passer.
Bunkley is an even bigger enigma. He’s a complete freak of nature athletically with a ton of talent, he works hard and doesn’t do anything truly bad. He’s just a non-factor. Drafted as a pass rushing threat from the inside, he’s failed to come through on that promise. In five seasons and 76 games, Bunkley has six sacks. Six. In 2010, he registered a grand total of none. That’s not cutting it. It’s telling that after his arm injury healed late in the season, he remained a reserve instead of reclaiming his starting spot.
Former second-round pick Trevor Laws, amazingly taken a couple picks before DeSean Jackson, has been a disappointment from the start. While he did improve some last year, he’s not blowing anyone away with his skills and is looking at being on the roster bubble this offseason.
In reality, the best DT the Eagles have is another guy who once played for the Redskins, Antonio Dixon. Undrafted out of school, he has outplayed all three of the Eagles high round journeymen.
Haynesworth would be a paradigm shift to dominance. A monstrous 6-6, 335 lbs, he can rush the passer and stuff the run. He’s an intimidating force that can take over a game. The Eagles defense would benefit greatly by bringing him onboard, both as a talent and as a presence.
While Haynesworth doesn’t technically need the money after pocketing a literal fortune in Snyder dollars, his likely release should motivate him even more to re-establish his value and get paid again. At 29, he still has some quality years left and will want to play for more than the vet minimum. If he’ll accept a team friendly but incentive-laden deal, the Eagles need to make it happen.
And if Jim Washburn can get this guy back to dominating in the 4-3 defense Haynesworth belongs in, paired with Trent Cole and Brandon Graham and alongside the 6-2, 330 lb Dixon, no matter what the Eagles pay him it could turn out to be a bargain.
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