Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Defensive Shakeup in Philadelphia

Now that the dust is slowly settling on the firing of Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, the details are bubbling to the surface, along with news of other defensive coaching changes. It seems that Andy Reid let McDermott go Wednesday, reportedly citing Jim Johnson's legend as an excuse for the termination. For those keeping score at home, the announcement came a mere two days after Reid told the press that the defensive coordinator would be returning for the 2011-2012 season. According to the Eagles, the delay would allow McDermott to start seeking alternative employment. Another, more likely reason for McDermott's termination is the recent revelation that some, if not much of the defensive players disagreed with his style of defense. Add to that the news that McDermott was on thin ice since the end of last season, coupled with this season's poor performance, and suddenly the firing seems more and more of an inevitability. While sources spotted McDermott interviewing in Denver, it has been confirmed that he will be taking the defensive coordinator position with the Carolina Panthers instead.

Since the news broke, there have been talks of Seahawks coach Jim Mora becoming the Eagles' new DC, though it is now believed he will most likely join the Denver Broncos' coaching staff in the same capacity. Mike Singletary was another candidate, first discussed before McDermott was even fired. On Monday, ESPN's SportsCenter speculated that Singletary would most likely go to work for former teammate Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings, a report later confirmed by Singletary. The Eagles also considered Rob Ryan, brother of Jets coach Rex and son of legendary Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, only to lose him to the division rival Dallas Cowboys.

If Mora joins the Broncos, now all but an inevitability, the Eagles are left with former Bills coach and current defensive backs coach Dick Jauron, who is currently being considered by the Cleavland Browns, and Bill Davis, the former Cardinals defensive coordinator. Considering the shift of DCs around the league, the Eagles need to move quickly if they plan to build a better defensive plan for next season. Jauron seems the optimal choice, having a familiarity with the defensive players and overall strengths and weaknesses of the team...provided he stays on the market long enough for the Eagles to hire him.

In the midst of all this was the firing of the Eagles' defensive line coach, Rory Segrest. This could spell trouble for the Eagles' defense for the 2011-2012 season, given the strong possibility of a lockout. If a compromise is not reached between the NFLPA and the owners on a new CBA by the March 4th deadline, any new defensive coordinator, defensive line coach, and (if Jauron leaves) defensive backs coach would likely have very little, if any, time to meet the defensive players, institute a system (many believe the Eagles will shift to a 3-4 defensive scheme), and have the players practice new defensive plays.

With all these factors in play, will the Eagles make a smart move, or will they be forced to make a desperate move? One can only hope that the front office steps up quickly to avoid what could be a disastrous showing in 2011.

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