Let's take an updated look at the Eagles hunt for a defensive coordinator. We know Saints DB coach Dennis Allen interviewed for the job this weekend. He's the only person who can actually make that claim right now. Everything else is still speculation.
I know some people are concerned at the Eagles "lack of urgency" to fill the spot. The important thing is to hire the right guy, not hire a guy right now. Obviously the Eagles wanted to see which teams would lose on Sunday, possibly giving them other candidates to choose from. We don't know which teams Reid was pulling for (meaning which coaches he was really interested in) so it is hard to say what his mindset is right now.
Here are the coaches who became available after Sunday's losses:
Bob Babich - LBs
Gil Byrd - Asst DBs / Safeties
Jon Hoke - Secondary
Eric Washington - DL
Dave Toub - STs
Mark Carrier - DL
Bob Sutton - LB
Dennis Thurman - DB
We'll start with the Bears coaches. Bob Babich has been brought up by a few guys, but I don't see that move as making sense. He was the Bears LB coach under Ron Rivera. When Ron was fired Babich got the promotion to DC. The defense fell way off for two years and then Babich was demoted to just LB coach. He's good with LBs, but hasn't shown himself to be a good DC.
Washington and Byrd are very limited in terms of experience and don't have the background to be a DC quite yet.
Hoke is an interesting candidate. He has NFL and college experience. He ran the defense at Florida for a couple of years. He has been a DB coach with the Texans and Bears. He worked with Dom Capers for four seasons in Houston. That's never a bad thing.
Dave Toub is the most interesting and confusing option. He spent time at UTEP and Missouri, coaching along some young guy named Andy Reid. They were together for five years in college. Toub came to work as a special teams assistant in Philly for three years. That means he and Andy have eight years together, not something to casually dismiss. Toub was an OL when he played. He was a strength coach and DL coach at the college level. He has become one of the top special teams coaches in the NFL. That's the good news. Toub has never run a defense. That's the bad news. I don't know how realistic Toub is as a candidate. Reid thinks very highly of him, but would he turn the defense over to him? Big gamble, but sometimes those are the best moves. Andy was never an offensive coordinator for the Packers. He went from TE coach to QB coach to head coach. John Harbaugh went from special teams coach to positional coach to head coach. Toub knows how to run a unit. He is a good teacher, communicator, and motivator. Is that enough?
Onto the Jets. Mark Carrier was a safety when he played. Seems strange to see him as a DL coach, but that also tells you that he's a smart guy. Carrier helped with the DBs when he was with Ryan in Baltimore. The downside with him is that he's only been coaching in the NFL since 2006. Carrier is a few years away from being ready.
Bob Sutton has been with the Jets for 11 years. He coached the LBs for the first six. He then was the DC for three. Rex Ryan came to town and kept Sutton on the staff, but moved him back to LBs. Sutton was the head coach at Army from 1991 to 1999. He had some success there. Prior to that he bounced around college football. His resume reminds you a bit of Jim Johnson's. If Reid is looking for a veteran coach, Sutton is the guy. The downside to him is that Sutton isn't a compelling coach. He did an okay job with the Jets defense, but they were never ranked in the Top 15 in yards allowed during his three years. They did some good things with sacks, takeaways, and run defense, but weren't a complete defense. Sound familiar? Sutton has worked with the 4-3 and 3-4. He isn't known as a brilliant game planner or tactician, but working with Rex Ryan for two years has to have rubbed off at least a little.
Dennis Thurman is a name that interests me. He was a star CB for Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys back in the 1980s. Thurman picked off 36 passes. He got into coaching with the Cardinals, running their secondary in 1988 and 89. Their DL coach was a guy named Jim Johnson. One of the DBs that Thurman coached was Mike Zordich, currently on the Eagles staff and possibly the next DB coach. Thurman coached at USC from 1993-2000. He was then with the Ravens from 2002-07, before coming over to the Jets with Ryan. The Jets have been the best coverage team in the NFL over the last two years. They can flat out lock teams down. Darrelle Revis is a big part of that, but don't underestimate the job done by the other DBs and LBs. Thurman does a great job of developing all kinds of guys and getting them to play at a high level.
Deion Sanders gave some advice about who Dallas should hire (prior to getting Rob Ryan). Here's what he had to say:
If you really want to get somebody who has the credentials that is a Cowboy and you really want to make a splash and somebody that his pulse on today’s athletes, go get Dennis Thurman from the Jets. I said that: Dennis Thurman from the Jets. Somebody that everyone has looked over. He’s been the defensive back coach for the Baltimore Ravens for years under Rex Ryan. Now he’s that same guy in New York under Rex Ryan. If you ask anybody that has a lot of influence on Rex Ryan and that defense, they will point you to and say Dennis Thurman. I’m not telling you something that I heard, I’m telling you something that I know.
This weekend, look at the footage, look at the film of any Jets game; look at the guy right next to Rex Ryan, calling the plays with him. It’s Dennis Thurman. Go look at the films in the archive back when they were with the Baltimore Ravens and look at the guy standing right next to Rex Ryan, assisting him in calling the plays: Dennis Thurman.
I'm not saying we should start making crucial decisions based on the mind of Neon Deion, but it is interesting to hear his thoughts. Say what you want, but Deion does know how players think. One of the big problems this year was getting all 11 guys on the same page. Thurman might be a big help in that regard. He's got an interesting background, having played for a defensive genius like Tom Landry and then coached with a contemporary defensive guru in Rex Ryan.
I think we'll get an answer in the next few days. I don't see the Eagles interested in anyone from the Steelers staff. I'm not sure about the Packers. It sounds like Mike Trgovac might just stay in Green Bay. I'm not sure if Winston Moss is a guy that you wait two weeks for. Assuming there is no waiting, the first order of business is lining up some interviews. There still could be another candidate that emerges from left field. The Eagles always make things interesting.
I'm glad the Eagles didn't give the job to Dick Jauron. He's a good DBs coach, but I didn't want him running the defense. Of the candidates now, I'm not "in love" with any of them. Thurman interests me the most because of his background. Toub fascinates me because of the boom/bust potential of the move. Bob Babich is probably the one guy I don't want to get the job. Should be an interesting week.