Well, here’s an unexpected development! The Detroit Lions are hiring Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin as their defensive coordinator, as first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.
There was some thought that the Eagles might move on from Undlin this offseason given Philly’s secondary struggles. The fact that he’s leaving isn’t a total shock ... but it is surprising to see he was coveted by another team.
It’s worth noting that the Eagles could’ve blocked Undlin from leaving if they wanted to. It’s also worth noting that Undlin won’t be calling defensive plays for the Lions since Detroit head coach Matt Patricia handles those duties. So, it’s not like Philly desperately desired to keep him, and it’s not like he’s leaving for the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Eagles originally hired Undlin as their defensive backs back in 2015. There was excitement about him at the time given how he worked with some talented Denver Broncos defenses. Undlin survived the Chip Kelly firing and remained on Doug Pederson’s staff. He ultimately contributed to the team’s Super Bowl LII victory.
With that said, the Eagles’ secondary clearly hasn’t been a strength in recent seasons. It’s hard to know exactly how much Undlin is to blame. People may point to Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas not developing into starters as evidence that Undlin didn’t do a great job and perhaps that’s fair. But maybe those guys just aren’t as talented as once thought. The Eagles did get more than expected out of guys like Jalen Mills (2016 seventh-round pick) and Cre’Von LeBlanc (2018 mid-season waiver claim).
Eagles players seemed to like Undlin and it was believed he could be an internal promotion to defensive coordinator had Jim Schwartz ever been hired away as a head coach. Methinks the team preferred to have Undlin hired away as a DC elsewhere as opposed to them having to let him go.
In any case, Undlin is gone and the Eagles will have a new defensive backs coach in 2020. Perhaps the team will look to promote assistant secondary coach Dino Vasso, who followed Pederson over from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. Safeties coach Tim Hauck is also on staff. The Eagles could give a look to former Cowboys defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard, who reportedly isn’t being retained by Dallas.
The Eagles made some changes to their offensive coaching staff last week and now this week is kicking off with some defensive changes. More announcements could be on the way.