Now that the hopes and dreams that former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo would return to the Philadelphia Eagles as their new defensive coordinator have been crushed, the debate as to why he chose the Saints and who is to blame, if anyone, in the Eagles organization is to blame has begun.
First let me state that going to the Saints wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, be a hard decision to make. They are a successful team who will likely see much more success under head coach Sean Payton and now Spagnuolo controlling the defense. But there was the argument that Spagnuolo and Philadelphia’s defensive line coach Jim Washburn would be incapable of co-existing due to a conflict of scheme.
According to SI.com’s Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen“ (per Philly.com’s Sheil Kapadia), that difference in Washburn’s wide-9 and Spagnuolo’s style of defense did ultimately play a factor in his (Spagnuolo) choice to choose New Orleans over the Eagles. However King also noted that someone with knowledge of the situation explained to him that while Washburn’s wide-9 was a factor, Spags decision was based more off of Washburn’s fiery personality.
“Someone Who Knows told me a major roadblock to Steve Spagnuolo taking the defensive coordinator job in Philadelphia was the presence of very strong personality Jim Washburn on the defensive line”.
Remember, during the Eagles week 12 loss to the New England Patriots, Wasburn and Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg needed to be separated on the sideline after getting in each other’s face. Coach Andy Reid defended the situation by using the competitive nature of the sport being the culprit of the ordeal, but many speculated it was a certain level of predictability in Mornhinweg’s play calling that Washburn was barking at. Regardless of what the reason for the sideline confrontation may be, it is now clear that that incident cost the Eagles one extraordinary defensive coordinator who would have most likely been able to operate this Eagles defense at a level everyone thought they would during this past season.
However while everyone will be quick to point the finger at Washburn, and I’m not defending him here, keep in mind it is this fiery attitude that motivates the players along his defensive line to stand out. He could have definitely handled the “situation” in week 12 better, I can’t argue that. However his group was explosively productive at both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions with players like Philly’s pro bowl defensive end Jason Babin, veteran standout Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins who was in his first-year with the team.
So now that the Eagles organization has been “burned”, it will be interesting to see what move (if any) Reid plans on making. But what I’m more curious about is what is going through the mind of Eagles chairman and owner Jeffrey Lurie’s mind right about now. Stay tuned as something news worthy is bound to happen at some point — hey, they still need to hire a cornerbacks coach!
Future Feature: Be sure to tune in Sunday for an Exclusive Interview with Eagles pro bowl defensive end Jason Babin which will be aired just before the start of the pro bowl.
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