Eagles Wake-Up Call: Some Thoughts On Washburn

Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Jim WashburnIt was obvious that something was off in the Eagles’ locker room the minute it opened.

There was a tension that seemed out of place, even for a team that had just dropped its eighth straight. Some employees and players appeared on edge. When an emotional Derek Landri entered the room, he was instructed not to say a word. Trent Cole stood by him at his stall, almost protectively. The defensive line was gathered close.

Andy Reid said he fired Jim Washburn on Monday morning. One source contends that he was terminated just minutes after the loss to the Cowboys, which would help explain the d-line’s body language late Sunday night. It doesn’t much matter now. While some of the details are still blurry, the bottom line is that the much-hyped position coach has been sent packing, and with just four games to play.

By all accounts, Washburn did not respond well to the release of Jason Babin. There is no denying that “Wash” is a Babin guy, so much so that it became an irritant to the rest of the corps. Babin could do no wrong; the harsh criticism was reserved for everybody else. We reported that Cole walked out of a defensive line meeting in the days leading up to Babin’s release — another piece of evidence that the situation was deteriorating. The fact that Reid already had a replacement in place when he fired Washburn further suggests that there was a build-up to this moment.

“It wasn’t all about this game. That’s not what it was. It was just something that I had been pondering and working through and I just thought it was the right time now,” said Reid.

Washburn had ingrained an “Us against the world” mentality in his unit, to the point where it seemed like it was the defensive line against the rest of the team. Perhaps in such a culture it would be acceptable to refer to Juan Castillo, one of the best men in the business, as “Juanita,” since he was an outsider.

A 63-year-old acting like a teenager.

Reid’s fingerprints are all over this. He hired Washburn (before settling on Castillo as defensive coordinator) and therefore must be held responsible. It is on him.

But considering all that was on the line and everything Reid has been through, it was Washburn’s responsibility to do better by his head coach as well. And he failed.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Reid calls starting Nick Foles “the right thing to do.”

Here are some details on the firing of Washburn. Reid tries to explain why he made the move.

Sheil caught up with Brandon Graham, who believes the release of Babin indeed had an impact on the D-line coach.

Can you guess who the most-used wide receiver on Sunday night was?

Want some hope? Look no further than Bryce Brown.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Sports Illustrated put together a list of possible landing spots for Michael Vick. How about the Jets?

The contract extension handed to Mark Sanchez prior to 2012 makes this an extremely unlikely marriage. Unless Vick opts to take backup QB money, the Jets probably won’t be able to afford both guys.

Otherwise, you could see a fit here — the Jets need a shot in the arm on offense, and Vick offers the type of non-traditional skills that attracted the Jets to Tim Tebow. Sanchez’s situation is enough of a headache already, however, without adding Vick to the mix. As it is, Rex Ryan is not sure if Sanchez should continue starting over Greg McElroy, who delivered a win in relief Sunday, or Tebow.

Dan Graziano gives his take on Reid’s decision to go with Foles.

I wrote here a few weeks back that this would be a tough crossroads for Reid, when and if it happened, since he obviously likes Vick and doesn’t want to harm Vick’s chances of finding a job somewhere else after this season, and since by now it must be apparent to Reid (as it is to everyone else) that he won’t be around to coach Foles and the Eagles next year. The question at the time was whether Reid would really do the right thing for a team that appears about to fire him, or stick to his personal guns and keep starting “his guy.” At the time, I wrote that I believed Reid was the sort of man who would see it as his job to do what’s right for the Eagles franchise until such time as he no longer worked for them. This move is an example of doing just that.

COMING UP

A day off for the Eagles. But as we’ve learned with this team, there is rarely a day off from drama.