The Eagles announced early Monday morning that they’ve fired defensive line coach Jim Washburn and added Tommy Brasher.
Washburn was on the staff for 28 games. He implemented the wide-nine up front and had success in his first season, as the Eagles tied for the league lead with 50 sacks, 46 of which were by defensive linemen.
But this year has been a different story. The Eagles added resources to Washburn’s unit – including first-round pick Fletcher Cox and second-round pick Vinny Curry. They also got Brandon Graham back from injury and traded for linebacker DeMeco Ryans to help with problems against the run. But the defense has managed just 20 sacks through 12 games, tied for 27th.
Brandon Graham said Tuesday’s release of Jason Babin made him realize that in the NFL, “just when you think you’re safe, you’re gone.”
Babin hit the pillow Monday night as the team leader in sacks, and woke up (temporarily) unemployed.
Did his performance against the Panthers weigh into the Eagles’ decision to let him go? We took a look at the All-22 tape to figure it out.
In what can certainly be perceived as a shot across the bow, the Eagles released defensive end Jason Babin Tuesday.
“We appreciate everything that Jason has given this team over the last couple of years,” said Andy Reid in a statement. “We wish him all the best as he continues his career. By releasing him today, this gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some younger guys in the defensive line rotation.”
Though there’s obviously much more to it than that.
Vinny Curry has been waiting 10 weeks for some good news. He finally got it…on Twitter.
“I was like, ‘I wonder if it’s true?'” said Curry. “You’re kind of anxious to get back to work to see if it’s true. Today, Coach Wash told me I would be up, and I’m just excited.”
The second-round pick out of Marshall will be activated for the first time all season. It has been a long wait to get his first taste of NFL action, but his moment has finally arrived.
What will the fans see?
But this week, his first as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Bowles’ will likely spend some time trying to figure out a way to get the pass-rushers free. That’s going to be a key in the final 10 games. The secondary has played well, and while the defensive line has certainly affected games (everything’s connected, after all), Jim Washburn’s group has not been the dominant presence many were expecting when the season started.
So what’s the answer to jump-starting the pass-rush? During an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic, defensive end Jason Babin was asked if more blitzing could be a possible solution.
When asked last week why the Eagles’ defense has been unable to come up with more sacks, Todd Bowles pointed to four specific things.
“Part of the time, the ball is coming out quick,” he said. “Part of the time they’re max protecting. Part of the time we have to beat one-on-ones. Part of the time, coaching-wise, we have to scheme it better and help those guys get free.”
Today, let’s take a look at those four things individually.
Before today, Todd Bowles was in charge of the Eagles’ secondary. Now, his job is to come up with a game-plan for the entire defense.
That includes finding a way to improve a pass-rush that has gone without a sack the last three games.
“The scheme is not going to change,”Andy Reid said. “The terminology isn’t going to change. But how we work within that is how you do that.”
We’ll hear from Bowles later today, but it sounds like the Eagles will tweak the system that’s currently in place. And that makes sense, given that we’re six games in, and the defense has played really well in stretches. Considering Bowles has coached the secondary all season, I wouldn’t expect many changes there. The Eagles are limiting opposing quarterbacks to the lowest completion percentage (52.7) and second-lowest yards per attempt (6.2) in the NFL.
The front four, however, could be a different story. Jim Washburn’s group has gone without a sack in three straight games.
The numbers are down across the board. Juan Castillo‘s defense is on pace for 28 sacks, while last year’s unit amassed 50. Against the Giants, the Eagles failed to register a single quarterback hit on Eli Manning. The difference is the way the front four is being attacked.
Everybody gets heir turn, but Fletcher Cox has spent his fair share of time in Jim Washburn’s crosshairs this summer. When the 62-year-old southern flamethrower decides it’s your day, he starts in on you and doesn’t relent. From across the field you’ll hear, “Fletcherrrr!” followed by a series of phrases generally unsuitable for print.
“For one thing, under Wash, you have to have tough skin. If you’re a guy where it’s easy to get under your skin…you’d have a pretty hard time here,” Cox acknowledged.
It makes sense that Washburn would zero in on Cox. After all, the rookie will be thrust into a big role immediately, so it’s important that he is up to snuff. But it’s not all tough love that the defensive line coach is showing the 12th overall pick.
Jim Washburn needs talent. And he’s got it this year, as the Eagles defensive line returns most of the key parts from a unit that was responsible for 46 of the team’s league-high 50 sacks last season.
Barring injury, when the Birds trim their roster to 53, they will be forced to cut ties with a couple players who will likely contribute elsewhere.
Is he a fit for this system?
He was drafted before Jim Washburn got here, after all. Some men are Wide-9 guys, and some aren’t. What category does Graham fall into? Depends who you ask.
Jim Washburn rarely holds back.
Through two-and-a-half days of training camp at Lehigh, the Eagles defensive line coach has been as vocal as ever. The fact that there are probably only two defensive linemen here (Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry) who will make the roster doesn’t matter to him. He prides himself on being able to motivate everyone – from Pro Bowlers like Trent Cole to undrafted free agents.
But when Brandon Graham steps onto the field later this week, Washburn is pretty sure motivation won’t be an issue.
“He doesn’t need Vinny Curry to motivate him,” Washburn said, referring to the fact that the Eagles spent a second-round pick on another defensive end. “He’s got everything to motivate him. He’s been beat down. That’s the way it goes, right? You’re a first-round draft choice. You don’t produce great the first year. The guy up north [Jason Pierre-Paul] playing his ass off. People throw that in his face all the time. Somebody said, ‘You gonna pimp him to death?’ I said uh-uh. I don’t have to. I don’t need to.”