This is sort of a crazy time for the Eagles. Coaches getting hired and fired. Rumors galore. Let's jump right into things.
We'll start with who the Eagles didn't get. Jim Mora told both the Eagles and Broncos that he will sit out the 2011 season and look to get back into coaching in 2012. I heard Mora interviewed on the radio last week, before any of this buzz got going. He said some interesting things, but I got the feeling even then that he wasn't all that fired up to get back into the business now. Mora said he really misses the competition. Win or lose, at the end of a week you knew the joy of competition. That simply doesn't exist in the broadcast booth. Aside from that, he was happy with his life outside of coaching. Mora will now stick with broadcasting for one more year. That keeps him well paid and active, but allows him to also be a husband and father and live a normal life.
I don't think "losing" Mora is a huge deal, but it sounds like the Eagles were interested so it does remove a viable candidate.
* Word broke on Wednesday night that the Eagles received permission to interview Saints defensive backs coach Dennis Allen for the open defensive coordinator position. I am not overly familiar with Allen. I can't tell you anything about his philosophies or ideas.
If you read his bio it will remind you in some ways of Sean McDermott. There is a big difference, though. McDermott coached at his alma mater (William & Mary) for a year before joining the Eagles. That is his experience. Allen is more of a vagabond, which is a good thing in the coaching world. He played DB for Texas A&M and then worked for:
New Orleans Saints
Allen has been around a variety of head coaches and defensive coordinators. He's played against big time competition. He's coached against big time competition. Allen knows the ups and downs of football. He's been part of struggling teams. Tulsa wasn't exactly a power during his two years there. The flip side is that he won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009.
Allen hasn't been a defensive coordinator before, which is less than ideal. I think getting an experienced coach would be the way to go based on the youth of the Eagles defense. I do think the fact that Allen has a more varied background has put him in a better position to make the leap from positional coach to coordinator.
Coaches are thieves. They steal ideas at every stop they make. They learn from the people they work with. Allen spent time with head coaches R.C. Slocum, Keith Burns, Dan Reeves, Jim Mora, and Sean Payton. That is a mixture of young guys and older ones. That is a mixture of offensive and defensive guys. Allen also worked with some gifted defensive minds, most notably Bob Davie, Wade Phillips, and Gregg Williams. If you can't learn the game of football from those guys, it isn't going to happen.
Allen has been coaching for 15 years. He's worked on the defensive line and with defensive backs. At this point the next step is for him to get a defensive coordinator position. He should be ready for the job, but as we found out with Sean McDermott, you just never know.
- Praise for Allen -
Sean Payton commented on the work secondary coach Dennis Allen has done in his five seasons with the Saints and on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams saying earlier in the day that Allen has a lot of potential.
"He’s a guy who when we first hired him in ’06, we got him as an assistant defensive line coach from Atlanta. His background has been in the secondary. He’s very detailed; he’s very bright; he’s a good teacher and I would agree. I think he’s certainly a very talented coach and you could see the secondary playing with that confidence that they have. He’s done a really good job of bringing some young players along, along with some veterans in a short period of time. Certainly we benefit from having somebody like that – a good teacher and a good communicator."
When I first found out that McDermott was fired I began to think about who I might want the Eagles to go get. There weren't a lot of names that blew me away. The next thing I did was to think about which veteran coaches I'd want to get a positional coach from. Four names came to mind. I looked over the staffs of the Jets (Ryan), Steelers (LeBeau), Packers (Capers), and Saints (Williams). I glanced at Allen, but moved on because I was so set on finding a coach with prior DC experience.
I do think taking a coach that has worked with Gregg Williams makes a lot of sense. Williams has run some simple stuff in his time, but has also concocted some incredibly complex gameplans. The Saints didn't have great defensive numbers in '09, but came up with a ton of takeaways and made big plays. They posted better numbers this year, but didn't consistently make the same kind of big plays. The defense came up huge in the '09 Super Bowl run. They beat Brett Favre mercilessly in the NFC title game and then finished off Peyton Manning with a pick-six in the Super Bowl. That is clutch defense.
Les Bowen reported on Twitter that the Eagles are still interested in at least one coach whose team remains active in the playoffs. My guess is Mike Trgovac of the Packers, but is just a guess. The hiring of veteran DL coach Jim Washburn gives the Eagles some flexibility. They can now get a DC who has more of a background with the secondary.
* As for the hiring of Washburn, great move by the Eagles. My friend Sam joked that going from Rory Segrest to Washburn is the coach equivalent of going from Dan Klecko to Leonard Weaver at fullback. Sounds about right.
I'll be writing a full column for SB Nation Philly on the Washburn hire. I'll get into the Albert Haynesworth speculation and all kinds of stuff.
* I've had a few people ask me about whether the Washburn move happening with Andy Reid on vacation has any special significance. Is he losing power? Is Howie Roseman trying to make moves behind his back?
I love a good conspiracy theory. I can't tell you how many times I watched The Men Who Killed Kennedy on the History Channel. However, there is no conspiracy here. All is well at the NovaCare Complex. Andy Reid is the one who fired McDermott and Segrest. The delay in the announcement with Sean was a ploy by Andy to try and find a job for Sean so that he wouldn't have to be officially fired. Say what you want about McDermott, but he was a loyal assistant for a decade. Andy tried to do right by him, under the circumstances.
I can't fully explain the timing of the Washburn hiring because I don't know all the details. When did his contract expire in Tennessee? Was it right after the season or just in the last few days? Did Washburn only have offers from the Titans and Eagles? I don't know the details.
I do know that Andy Reid still has control over his coaching staff. Howie Roseman has eaten away some of Reid's personnel authority, but Reid still hires and fires his coaches. You can bet he wanted Washburn. Andy didn't need to physically be in Philly to make the hire. I'm sure he and Jim talked on the phone prior to the move, but that the hard part was either Joe Banner or Roseman making Washburn a big enough offer to leave the Titans.