All Wash’d Up
Andy Reid fired defensive
coordinator line coach Jim Washburn following last night’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He has been replaced by a familiar face, Tommy Brasher, who retired after coaching defensive line under Reid from 1999-2005.
Before the start of the 2012 season, Washburn commented, “I’d be crushed, hell I’d quit, if we’re not a whole lot better. They need to fire my ass if we’re not better. We should be a lot better.”
The move comes less than a week after the Eagles cut 2-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, team leader in sacks (5.5) and recipient of a 5-year, $28 million contract in 2011. While it seems possible that the moves are directly connected, given that Babin had his first Pro Bowl season in Tennessee where Washburn was the defensive line coach and was signed immediately after Washburn was hired in Philadelphia, discussion about which decision was made first is at best a chicken-and-egg situation.* Interesting, but ultimately fruitless speculation. Both are gone now, and my guess is we’ll see fewer (but still some) wide-9 alignments over the last four games of the season.
Which brings me to the “new” guy. Because Jim Johnson is not the coordinator and this defense no longer runs a similar scheme, these statistics are far from predictive. But over the course of Brasher’s previous stint with the Birds, the defense ranked a mediocre 18th in rushing yards/attempt, but allowed the 8th fewest rushing touchdowns. During Washburn’s tenure the numbers were similar, ranking 16th and 9th respectively. As far as pass rush is concerned, the defense ranked 3rd in total sacks during Brasher’s stint, and 11th during Washburn’s, which is a precipitous fall when you consider that the defense as a whole led the league in sacks in 2011 (the line alone contributed 49 of them). Of course much of the sack production in the early 2000s can be attributed to Jim Johnson’s blitz schemes, but Brasher is the man who got N.D. Kalu 8 sacks off the bench in 2002, so there might be some hope for the seemingly salvageable unit.
But with the season all-but mathematically over, this move looks like it’s nothing more than Reid asking an old friend to do him a solid while he plays out the string in Philadelphia.
*By the way, unless you’re really into Genesis 1:24-25, the egg came first. So that was probably a poor simile.