Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Good Washburn

The Eagles' hiring of former Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn has gotten the kind of local and national press coverage that only a pre-free agency hiring can get, really, but in case you missed it, there's really a lot to like here.

First off, Washburn is a major reason why Jeff Fisher has been able to hold the job for the better part of two decades. The Titans defense has been front driven for years, and Washburn has gotten the best out of people like Jevon Kerase, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Albert Haynesworth and Jason Babin -- yes, Jason Babin. By the simplest and best measure of a position coach -- has he gotten the most out of his talent -- Washburn qualifies on every level.

Secondly, he fills Andy Reid's recent strong history of poaching top coaches from distressed organizations. Last year it was special teams coach Bobby April from the Bills, and while I don't have the coverage or kicking numbers in front of me, just from watching the games, I liked the units more this year than last. Besides, that unspeakably nifty 10 man onside kick execution against the Giants, not to mention the DeSean Jackson walk-off punt return, tells me that April was the winning move.

Third, this does more than any other possible move to jump-start the career of some of the most important players on the roster -- DE Brandon Graham and Daniel Te-o-Nesheim. The pass defense doesn't work out without a corresponding sack threat on the other side of DE Trent Cole, and they just haven't had one. LB Chris Clemons got to the QB plenty in Seattle, while the man they traded for him, DE Darryl Tapp, just didn't provided the same push.

Fourth and finally, and while this seems hardly even in the realm of possibility given the team's tastes in the post-Terrell Owens era... well, Haynesworth is absolutely devoted to Washburn, and says that he owes his fame and fortune to him. If the Skins are so over the Fat Albert Era as to just let him walk, and if he were to come north and get back to his previous levels while wearing midnight green... well, not to put too fine a point on it, but there is a reason why Albert attracted a nine-figure salary in the first place. And sure, the Skins overpaid and have done everything possible to ruin his value, but a motivated Albert was still one of the best in the business in Nashville. I doubt he gets back to that level, but he could still be a force. (And no, he's really not a DE, or the single biggest thing the defense needs, which is a lockdown LB or three. But still, it's nice to dream of yet another ex-Redskin going to glory one he leaves the team)

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