Category Archives: washburn

Defensive Line Shines in Season Debut

All of the talk this offseason has been about the Eagles improved secondary, and the embarrassment of riches they have at the cornerback position. But if the defensive line can play like they did last night on a consistent basis, it may not matter who is lining up at cornerback for the Eagles.

The Eagles defensive line looked absolutely dominant against the Baltimore Ravens in the first preseason game of the season last night, 13-6 win for the Eagles. Right from the start, it was clear that the upgrade from Rory Seagrest to Jim Washburn might prove to be the best addition the team made.

On the Ravens first possession, the Eagles front four were in the Ravens back field on every play. After letting up a big play on a blown assignment in the secondary, the Eagles defensive line pushed the offense back behind big plays from Trent Cole and Jason Babin. On one play, Babin beat his man and got to Flacco, forcing him to Coles side- who finished the play off with a sack.

While the sack went down as Coles, the Pro-Bowl defensive end said it really belongs to the whole team.

“It was a lot of effort put in by a lot of guys on the d-line. There was a lot of guys that got back there with me.  A lot of guys pressured that guy to move like that,” said Cole. “That’s what we want, a lot of pressure back there. Whoever makes the play, makes the play. It’s a team effort. The d-line did a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback, getting him to take off up the field. The secondary did a heck of job covering, linebackers as well too. We couldn’t get that sack without a team effort.”

The Eagles got more pressure from the edges last night then it seems like they did all last season, as even the second team was able to get after the quarterback. Darryl Tapp, sporting #55, looked as fast as a linebacker out their, and finished the night with 2 sacks.

In the third quarter, Jarrad Page was the beneficiary of more pressure from the defensive line. Keenan Clayton rushed past the Ravens offensive line like they weren’t even their, causing Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor to throw the ball right into Page’s lap in the corner of the end zone.

The Eagles still have a long way to go until the regular season, but it is clear that top to bottom, this line is significantly better then the line last season.

Training Camp Preview: Training Camp Battles

The Eagles went through a lot of changes this offseason- both the players on the field and the people who coach off of it.

The mass changes in the coaching staff will have a big part and creating even more change amongst the players. New defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, offensive line coach Howard Mudd, and defensive line coach Jim Washburn have no loyalty to any player. No favorites will be played. The jobs will be won over the next few weeks by the play, not the relationship.

With that being said, here are some of the top training camp battles to keep an eye on.

Right Tackle: Winston Justice vs. King Dunlap

Going into last seasons playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, there was no battle at this position. But after Winston Justice played so poorly that he was pulled in favor of King Dunlap, Justice’s grip on the position is not as tight as it once was. The fact that Justice had offseason surgery does not help either. This position is perhaps the most important on the line, as whoever wins will be in charge of protecting Michael Vicks blind side. Andy Reid said today that the job was Justices, but don’t buy it- this position is very much up in the air.

An injury and late season benching have Justice in a battle

Center: Jamaal Jackson vs. Mike McGlynn

Take away the fumble Mike McGlynn had a part in causing against the Titans last season, and McGlynn did an outstanding job taking over for Jamaal Jackson at center. But now that Jackson is back from a torn tricep, Andy Reid said that Jackson is the starting center. While the job may be his for now, things could change very quickly. Jackson has not played a full game in over a year and a half. McGlynn, on the other hand, played what Eagles expert Ray Didinger said was some of the best football an offensive lineman played over the second half of last season. While Jackson has had more experience at the position, McGlynn is the one who Michael Vick is used to. The fact that Howard Mudd has no loyalty to Jackson only adds more intrigue to this training camp battle.

Third String Running Back: Noel Devine vs. Graig Cooper vs.  Eldra Buckley

The Eagles first two running back spots are wrapped up with LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis holding down those spots. The third running back position, is very much up in the air. Eldra Buckley held that position last year, due to his stellar special teams play. Buckley also brings more of a power running style then either McCoy or Lewis. But Noel Devine and Graig Cooper have more talent then Buckley, which should add some intrigue to this battle. Both Devine and Cooper have the ability to take it to the house when given empty space. Devine is stronger then Cooper, but both excel in the return game- something Buckley does not. This will come down to one thing: if either Devine or Cooper can make an impact on special teams, Buckley could be gone.

Nickel Cornerback: Joselio Hanson vs Trevard Lindley

Hanson could win the job- or be cut all together

You would think they found a knife in Trevard Lindley’s locker the way he has been blamed for the firing of Ex-Coordinator Sean McDermotts firing. Many people around the Eagles feel that Lindley was not able to grasp the defensive system well enough to get on the field, and blamed it on McDermott. This season, big things are expected of Lindley, who will battle with Joselio Hanson for the nickel cornerback spot. Hanson is in serious danger of being cut as a cap causality, which makes this battle even more important. A poor training camp by Hanson could find him out of a job.

Defensive Tackle: Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws vs Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley

Antonio Dixon came on like a gangbuster towards the end of last season, as he play led him to be the best defensive tackle on the team in many people eyes. The same could be said for Trevor Laws, who arguably saved his NFL career last season. Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, both former first round picks, started last season off strong before fading away at the end. The wrap on Bunkley and Patterson have been their inability to collapse the pocket on the opposing quarterback. Dixon did a good job of that last season, and Laws came up with big players during his time on the field. While it would be shocking to see both Bunkley and Patterson go, a strong training camp by Dixon and Laws could spell the end for either Bunkley or Patterson in Philadelphia.

Weak Side Linebacker: Moise Foku vs Casey Matthews

Perhaps the only reason Moise Foku is still here is his low salary, as it seems every other member of last years linebacker crew has been jettisoned off. Foku battled last season with Akeem Jordan for this job, but with Jordan likely out of the picture, he now has 4th round pick Casey Matthews to contend with. Make no mistake about it: while this job is an open competition, the Eagles want Matthews to win it. Matthews is quicker then Foku, and shows a better knack of being around the ball. With that being said, Matthews is still a rookie. Unlike a rookie defensive lineman, a rookie linebacker caught out of position could spell disaster for a defense. Foku can win his job by playing solid, mistake free football.

A hint on how Castillo’s defense will look? (Video)

Yesterday, a report by Adam Caplan of NFL Network said that the Eagles were interested in Ike Taylor, a cornerback that spend last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Juan Castillo wants to simplify things for his young playmakers on defense

Lost in that report was another nugget by Caplan. Caplan had some news about how new Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo’s defense may look. Here’s what Caplan had to report, per Pro Football Talk:

“Philadelphia is considering playing more zone coverage under first-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo in order to complement changes up front. Along the defensive line, new position coach Jim Washburn is implementing a wide nine philosophy in which both ends line up well outside of the offensive tackles trying to block them. The defensive tackles will be up-field pass rushers.”

This makes sense after what Castillo told me along with the other reporters at his introductory news conference. Castillo stressed that he wanted his defense to be an attack first defense. In order to do this, he talked about simplifying the defense so his players could react quicker. It’s been well documented about how rookies and some veterans had trouble grasping Ex-Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott’s schemes.

Zone coverage, if implemented correctly, would allow players like rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett to only worry about their zone, react quicker and make plays.  A zone defense also requires a lot of trust amongst the players, which could be a problem if their is a short training camp- or no training camp at all.  Castillo is famous for his over night  film watching sessions, and it seems he will expect that from his players at fist to get the zone down.

Castillo also talked about playing to his defenses strengths, which is speed. This ties into the report that new Defensive Line Coach Jim Washburn is thinking of having his ends play outside of the offensive tackles. Players like Brandon Graham would benefit from such a system, as he would be able to use his speed to get around the guard, and not get held up on the line. Another player that would benefit from this could be Jason Babin, who could be brought in as a free agent.

One thing Castillo talked about at length during his press conference was his ability to use what he learned as a offensive line coach to help. Here is some footage I shot for Gcobb.com, where Castillo talks about how his knowledge could benefit the linebackers in particular.

Babin is open to return with Eagles

When Jim Washburn came over to coach the Eagles defensive line, all fans immediately hoped that Albert Hanyesworth would be following him.

But another defensive lineman, who had a more productive season then Hanyesworth, could also be on the way due to Washburn.

Could Jason Babin be making a return to an Eagles uniform?

Jason Babin, who finished last season with 12.5 sacks under Washburn’s coaching, is a free agent and free to sign with any team once the lockout ends. Babin, speaking to ProFootball Focus, said that any bad blood between him and the Eagles due to their breakup two seasons ago will not get in the way of a potential reunion.

“I think any and all feelings could be waived by a healthy contract” said Babin.

Babin has been very vocal about the role Washburn played in him making the Pro-Bowl last season, and even brought Washburn and his family to Hawaii with him. Babin credits Washburns ability to adjust to his players as a reason for his success.

“Those guys did an amazing job of saying, “these are the tools we have and weapons we have … what’s the best way we can use them.” They don’t have a cookie cutter scheme. They looked at what guys did well and let them excel at it,” explained Babin.

It’s interesting that Babin would point that out, as one of the main knocks on now former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was his players inability to adjust to his defense. Babin had only 2.5 sacks in his brief stint with the Eagles.

It’s hard to imagine that Washburn will not be vocal about bringing in Babin (especially after Babin took him to Hawaii.) Washburn knows what a big role Babin played in his defenses success, and will try to get Babin the big contract he’s looking for.

While both Babin and Hanyesworth could end up in Philadelphia, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles have to choose one, which one they would pick. Babin would cost more money, and really has only had one productive season in the NFL. He also, by all accounts, is a good locker room guy. Hanyesworth’s reputation, on the other hand,  speaks for itself and will end up costing him millions. On the other hand, he has been a productive player for most of his career, besides last, and has a bigger upside.

Either way, it is looking and more like Washburn will be brining at least one of his former defensive plays from Tennessee with him.

Source: Eagles “loading up and going for it”

A few days ago, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie spoke about the teams aggressive off season plan they have ready to go when the lock out is lifted.

Details of that plan now seem to be leaking, and Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports thinks the Eagles are ready to go all out.

Howie Roseman says his team is ready to go once the lockout is lifted

“This is the year” said the source to Silver. “We think we have a great shot to win it, and we’re loading up and going for it.”

What does loading up and going for it mean? Well, earlier today, Silver reported that Eagles new defensive line coach Jim Washburn desperately wants soon to be free agent Albert Haynesworth. This move would make sense, as Reid loves to win the game at the line, and if Washburn is convinced he can turn Hanyesworth around, Reid should be all for it.

Silver also reports that Andy Reid “loves” the idea of adding Plaxico Burress. This would go along with what Reid said earlier in the day during a chat on Philly.com. When asked about how he plans to address his teams red zone offensive woes, Reid said along with new plays, they will also have new players. If Silver is right, this seems to be a reference to Plaxico.

Not mentioned on the wish list was free agent corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Reid said during the same chat that the team should be fine at the right corner position. Reports have also come out that the Eagles are luke warm on Asomugha, with both his style of play and the anticipated price.

Silver qoutes Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman as saying that he is “ready for some action- right now.”

“I think there are going to be a lot of opportunities in front of us, players looking for short term deals who want to win a championship,” said Roseman to Silver. “Any good player that we think can help our team, we’re going to take a look at.”

Roseman is still new to the job, and could view this off season as his chance to make big moves via Plax and Haynesworth at a cheap price.

Short term options who want to win a Super Bowl have those two players names written all over it.

Report: Washburn wants Haynesworth “badly”

Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia, fresh off home from a honeymoon(congrats), is back doing a great job for Philly.com and posted a story today that should be of great interest to Eagles fans.

According to Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports, an Eagles source described new defensive line coach Jim Washburn as wanting Albert Haynesworth “badly.” The source says that Washburn is convinced he can get the most of out of the Washington Redskin bust.

Eagles D-Line coach Jim Washburn reportedly wants a reunion with Haynesworth

This report comes a day after Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett ripped Haynesworth a new one, questioning his desire and work ethic.

If the report is true, and Washburn really does want Haynesworth badly, its hard to imagine he won’t get him. Washburn is respected around the league as one of the best defensive line coaches, and chose to leave his long time job in Tennessee and join Reid’s staff. That move had to come with some power over picking his players. Washburn would be coming to Reid with the request as a seasoned coach- not an up and coming one who did not have Reid’s trust.

Washburn would also take on all responsibility of taking care of Haynesworth if he convinces Big Red to bring him on.

What would the Eagles have to give up to get Haynesworth? If he is cut, their is no question that Haynesworth will be cheap. After all the money he got from the Redskins, Haynesworth will have a hard time getting anything other then a low base salary, high incentive deal. If he is traded, the Eagles will more then likely not give up anything more then a 4th round pick for him.

If Haynesworth can come in and play up to the level Washburn thinks he can, he will be one of the best players on the team and an absolute game changer.

If Washburn can transform him back to that level of player, he will be worth every penny or pick the Eagles invest in him.

Recent Comments on Haynesworth Aren’t Good

To many Eagles fans, the off season wish list goes something like this: Nnamdi Asomugha, Plaxico Burress, and Albert Hanyesworth.

The fans that want Hanyesworth point to his success under new defensive line coach Jim Washburn, and the need for Hanyesworth to rebuild his image once he is thrown off the sinking ship that is the Washington Redskins.

Albert Hanyesworh played some of his best football under new DL coach Jim Washburn

But if Andy Reid reads the recent comments from Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, the chances of Fat Albert coming to the Eagles will take a drastic hit.

“He can do almost anything he wants,” Haslett told 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis. “He doesn’t want to do anything. To me that’s the issue. He’s one of those guys you walk in a meeting and you tell him, ‘Put down the phone.’ The next day you have to tell him to put down the phone. The next day, you tell him to put down the phone.

“You tell him, ‘Don’t read the newspaper in meetings.’ The next day you have to tell him the same thing. It doesn’t stick; it’s an every-day thing.”

Those words could end up being a death sentence to Hanyesworth if coaches do some more homework and find out it is true.

In the NFL locker room, their are two kinds of cancers: superstar wide receivers who pick “me” over team, and lazy players. Teams can deal with show boating receivers, but a lazy player with a bad work ethic is something many coaches will not tolerate what so ever.

Imagine Hanyesworth reading a newspaper when new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is trying to instill a new defense? It’s going to be hard enough for Castillo to get the respect of the defensive players, let alone with a player of Hanyesworth’s status blatantly disrespecting him.

For all of Terrell Owens antics during his time with the Eagles, one thing that was never questioned was his work ethic. He taught many receivers on the team how to go about the game as a professional. That made his antics somewhat bearable, but Reid will not put up with a player disrespecting a coach hes been around for 12 years, and is trying to gain the respect of his players.

It could be that Jim Washburn convinces Reid to take a chance on Hanyesworth, because Reid knows that in a game that is won on the lines, no player in the NFL is more capable of taking over a game on the line then Hanyesworth when he’s motivated.

But if Hanyesworth is signed or traded for, and keeps up the same antics that Haslett described, his stay will be a short one.