Some Quick DC Talk

Posted: January 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 79 Comments »

Chip Kelly is the head coach.  No word yet on the offensive coordinator.  There are some good defensive coordinator rumors.

Howard Eskin says the team will talk to Todd Grantham (DC at Georgia).  UGA is trying to keep him with a contract extension.  We’ll see how that goes.  Eskin also listed Kirby Smart as a candidate.  He’s currently the DC for Nick Saban and Alabama.  Kirby has a limited NFL background (one season with the Dolphins), but has been the DC at Bama now for 6 years.  A lot of that defense is Saban, but Smart is no figurehead.  He’s a very good coach.  I’d be open to a guy like him.  My preference is someone older and with more experience, but working as Nick Saban’s DC for 6 years is pretty darn impressive.

There are also some interesting developments on the NFL front.  Bruce Arians got the HC job in Arizona.  He will reportedly  hire Todd Bowles as his DC.  This may seem nuts to some, but Bowles played for Arians at Temple in the 1980s and they worked together on the Browns staff about a decade ago.

So what happened to Ray Horton?  Reportedly he had a heated exchange with GM Steve Keim and demanded to be let out of his contract.  Horton tried for the HC spot, but didn’t get it.  Coaches who go for the top spot and fail generally leave that team.  Sometimes they take not getting the job personally.  Other times the coach feels his credibility will be hurt by not getting the job.

If Horton is on the market, you’d hope that is someone that Chip Kelly calls right away.  There is one downside to Horton.  He wants to be a HC and might be a very short term hire.  If you go for him, you better have someone on the staff who could potentially succeed him or you’re chasing after a new DC as early as next January.  That risk might be worth the reward.

There is also the possibility that Smart might leave for a HC job in a year or two (at the college level).

Eskin reported that the Eagles hired Oregon’s DL coach, Jerry Azzinaro.  Another report says that Matthew Harper, Greg Austin, and Todd Lyght are leaving Oregon for Philly.  These aren’t key assistants.  Lyght’s name might seem familiar.  Former Notre Dame star and NFL DB.

I think Eagles fans will like Azzinaro.  Check this out.

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  • zbone95

    Ray Horton PLEASE! Pittsburg Steeler Foundation which is discipline and hard hitting football. Plz Plz plz chip kelly!!

    • D3FB

      Because when all of the NE coaches left, they automatically brought the Patriots style to life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.parker.1044 Jamie Parker

    That’s exactly what I thought when Ray Horton’s name came up, that he’d be looking to leave real soon. I’d like Smart. Not sold on Grantham. While better than before he got there, UGA still gave up a lot of points. And his defenses in Cleveland were in the bottom half of the league. Plus, the defense is going to spend a lot of time on the field.

  • http://www.hazepiffbudweedcheeba/blazeituppleasepeacetocheeba.com micksick

    how about winston moss, kevin greene ormike trgovac?

    • TommyLawlor

      Greene I don’t think is ready. Trgovac would be interesting, but he’s said in the past that he likes just being a positional assistant.

      Moss? I don’t know what the deal is with him. Hot name a couple of years back. Not anymore. Was he just flavor of the month or did he interview poorly?

      • http://www.hazepiffbudweedcheeba/blazeituppleasepeacetocheeba.com micksick

        and i suppose since the GB defense hasnt been very good at all that would effect how teams look at them

  • eagles2zc

    Azzinaro has better be careful, or Goodell may suspend him indefinitely upon watching this video

    • TommyLawlor

      Ha.

  • bridgecoach

    Love coach Az. Kirby Smart would be amazing. It feels like we won a coaching draft and secured a franchise coach! It feels like we are building a dynasty. I’m feeling inspired as an Eagles fan. Can’t ask for more than that.

    • 47_Ronin

      I can’t share your enthusiasm for Kirby Smart. He’s a good coach at Bama on the college level, but I think Kelly would need to balance his lack of NFL experience with a DC that had some NFL experience who could basically be the HC of the defense. The Eagles defense needs some rebuilding

      • D-von

        Its what Kelly wants. Why is NFL experience a must for NFL coordinators? Are they working with the GM and owner to plan out the next 3 years? Nope.

        • 47_Ronin

          No one is asserting NFL experience is a must, but this is not college anymore. The DC job will probably be the most important hire, I think it would be better with an experienced hand, someone players will respect and that has run an NFL practice schedule.

  • http://twitter.com/EaglesPride_ Aleandro green

    might be a silly question but ive always wondered this: if you got a HC that calls defense or offense plays then what does the OC or DC do during the game? and if you have an OC and a DC that call plays for themselves then what does the DC do during the game?

    • TommyLawlor

      There is a lot of discussion about what to call. There are game photos to be studied to look for trends/tendencies. You coach up specific players/units. There is a lot of work to do for everyone on the sideline.

  • Iskar36

    I certainly understand the idea of bringing in some of the coaches that Chip liked, but I’m curious where any of these guys will coach. Seems like only Jerry Azzinaro was a positional coach. I have no idea whether Jerry Azzinaro has “his system” like Washburn did, but I am a bit concerned about hiring a positional coach before the DC. Seems like we have done that before with a terrible outcome.

    • D3FB

      Looking at his resume he has had alot of different stops in different schemes. He’s even been a DC. Someone who has been a DC with a backround as a DL coach knows the game inside and out. Plus the fundamentals of DL don’t really vary terribly outside of 1-gap vs. 2-gap.

    • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

      Why would a guy leave a college job on the west coach for a lateral move to the west coast. Maybe it’s a promotion?

    • TommyLawlor

      He’s coached 3-4 and 4-3. Jerry can do whatever the DC wants.

      You have to understand that the Wide 9 is a unique system. Most DL coaches do what the DC wants. They don’t have a system, per se. Jerry will focus on developing the individual players. It is up to the DC to decide what/how things run.

      • Iskar36

        That’s great to hear. I definitely support a guy who will be a good teacher. I just don’t want a DC to clash with his positional coaches, which was blatantly obvious with Washburn and Castillo. If Azzinaro is not married to a system, I do like that he wants “more violence” and that seems like something that would be universal to any system.

    • tdilla

      But any coach that routinely screams “more violence!” is the kind of D-line coach i want

  • 47_Ronin

    I’m impressed that Coach Az got a brown belt in judo. He’s picture on the ducks website looks more like a mug shot. Is it just me that he bears a resemblance to the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse?

    • bridgecoach

      2013 Eagles: Men of Mayhem

  • SleepingDuck

    I can’t help but feel bad for Bowles. He was put in a situation where he wasn’t unable to succeed in the first place (cue Andy jokes) since he was still stuck with the Wide 9. I’m happy that he’s getting another shot as DC since he never got a fair shot here.

    • bridgecoach

      Feel bad for Bowles? How about Juan Castillo?

      • SleepingDuck

        I also feel bad for Castillo as well, but fans were expecting and immediate turn around with Bowles since the switch happened in season thus not along him time to implement his own style into the defense.

        • bridgecoach

          I don’t think we expected the defense to improve by firing Castillo mid season, much less anything resembling turning around the team. As worrisome as our defense was at the time, our offense and special teams were far worse. Now we can say for certain that Castillo did a much better job as DC than Bowles did – all defensive fundamentals went out the window when Juan left as did our defensive standing in almost every category. Castillo is a great guy and has been a terrific coach for our Eagles for years and years and Andy Reid put him in an impossible situation with Washburn undermining him at every turn (not to mention forcing a DC to play the position coaches system). Juan Castillo got his shot – but he was the one who never really had a chance.

          • Mac

            +1

  • Steven Dileo

    What kind of defense is best suited for beating teams like SF, WAS, and SEA? Dallas and GB looked horrible against WAS and SF.

    • D-von

      I think its not a question of what type of defense but a question of personnel and fundamentals.

      • TommyLawlor

        Exactly.

  • Steven Dileo

    Do you really want a coaching staff filled with guys who have names like Kirby and Chip. What happened to the good old days when HCs used to have names like Vince Lombardi, Tom Landri, Don Shula, and Bill Walsh?

    • D-von

      Well Chip is just a nickname. I think Smart’s parents either loved Nintendo’s Kirby or a product of being from Alabama where they have some of the dumbest names.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.parker.1044 Jamie Parker

        Maybe Kirby was named after a vacuum cleaner.

    • Steven Dileo

      I was reading up on Vince Lomardi. Interesting tidbit:

      “Lombardi was introduced to Lawlor’s cousin, Marie Planitz. When Marie
      announced her ardent desire to marry him, her father told her that he
      did not want his daughter marrying an Italian, a prejudice against his heritage he would face more than once in his life. Lombardi and Marie wed, nonetheless, on August 31, 1940.”

      • A_T_G

        So, Tommy has football in the family tree?

        • deg0ey

          Lawlor for DC!

          • TommyLawlor

            I don’t like to brag, but I’ve got a few stories I’ve been holding back on.

    • TommyLawlor

      We really need a Biff if we’re going to ever win big.

      • Arby1

        Hey, I got copyrights on that joke!

        • TommyLawlor

          How much do I owe you?

          • Arby1

            Get Chip to change his name to Butch, and we’ll call it even..

  • austinfan

    Doesn’t make sense to hire a 3-4 coach who won’t stick around through the transition. Blow it up and then the DC leaves, and you have to start over with another DC who may want to do things differently.

    Don’t like Smart at all, no NFL experience (one year coaching safeties), 6 years but how much autonomy under Saban? And coaching the Bama defense isn’t much of a challenge. I’d be more interested in the Vandy DC, anyone who can put together a tough defense with the limited talent you get there knows how to coach.

    • Steven Dileo

      Not many good coaches will stick around through a transition. The only thing holding Horton back is the preference teams have towards offensive coaches.

    • deg0ey

      I wonder whether he’s grooming Azz to be the eventual DC. He has a lot of experience along the way. He’s been LB coach, DL coach and DC in various places over the last 30 years. He even spent a year as HC at a D-3 school back in the 80s.

      Maybe he’s not meant to be anything more than a positional coach in the NFL, but a year or two learning under Horton might give him all the experience he needs to convince Chip he’s the guy to run the defence.

    • TommyLawlor

      Smart calls his own plays at Bama. He’s legit.

  • Davesbeard

    Tommy, one thing that has been really bugging me is the progression in complexity from college to the NFL. Rookies always talk about the new techniques they are learning, how much more complicated the schemes are. If rookies have to make that jump, how are college coaches expected to have the knowledge to do the same?

    • A_T_G

      The 9th grade Algebra teacher is capable and qualified to teach calculus, but he needs to teach at a level where his students are ready to learn.

    • TommyLawlor

      Fair question. College football is based on players coming and going. You will have a player for 4 or 5 years, but only 4 on the field. Rarely is he going to start all 4 years. You have to keep things simpler because you don’t have time to develop complex concepts. There is less time during the week to work with players. And players do have schoolwork.

      The other factor is assistant coaches. The majority of college assistants aren’t good enough to work in the NFL. The HC can have brilliant ideas, but if his guys can’t teach ‘em and the players don’t have time to master them…what is the point?

      The coaches who do ascend to the NFL have the acumen to adjust to more complex schemes and ideas.

      • austinfan

        Which is why I’m wary of Smart.

        A lot of college DCs were assistant coaches in the NFL, and understand the difference between the college and NFL game, including the parity of talent.

        Smart has had ridiculous defense talent relative to his opposition:
        Barron #7 2012
        Kirkpatrick #17 2012
        Hightower #25 2012
        Upshaw #35 2012
        Chapman 5th rd 2012
        Menzie 5th rd 2012
        Dareus #3 2011
        McLain #8 2010
        K Jackson #20 2010
        Arenas #50 2010
        Cody #57 2010
        M Johnson 7th rd 2010
        B Deadrick 7th rd 2010
        R Johnson #95 2009

        Most NFL defenses don’t have that much talent!

        • TommyLawlor

          And he produces great defenses.

          Grantham has really good talent (not great) at UGA and produces good defenses. I prefer great to good.

  • Steag209

    Tommy, of who’s out on the market regardless of rumors, who do you like or what candidates are you thinking of?

    • TommyLawlor

      Grantham is okay.
      Smart really fascinates me.
      Horton would be a very good hire, but he’s reported to be headed to CLE.
      Say no to Rob Ryan.

      Mel Tucker from JAX is interesting.

      Part of me would love to have hired the Bears staff of Marinelli, Babich, and Hoke. Those guys have worked together and know how to teach that system.

  • Steven Dileo

    FWIW, last year the Cardinals were 12 in overall defense, 4th against the run, and 28th against the pass.

  • A_T_G

    It seems a bit unrealilistic to hope we find a DC that is (a) excellent, (b) experienced, and (c) long-term. There isn’t a large pool of JJs out there.

    It seems more likely you can find a guy with any two of the three. Assuming we all want (a), is (b) or (c) more important? I think I’d be leaning towards (b) with Horton.

    • deg0ey

      I’d say (b) with your first hire, whilst finding someone to stash as a positional guy that could become (c) when the short-term guy inevitably leaves.

    • Ark87

      hmmm, can we really separate A and B? What would the major differences be between a+b and just a? Logically speaking, A+C is preferable because consistent excellence over a long term and B is accumulated over said long term. The thing is I don’t know that you will find anyone who is excellent right out the gate unless they are also experienced. And really you can only discover A with C if someone is lacking B. Cystal clear right?

  • GermanEagle

    Apparently Bowles has not received permission to talk to other teams yet. Is there a chance Kelly will keep him as the DC in Philly???

    • http://www.facebook.com/christian.therealw Christian Therealw

      I hope not!

    • TommyLawlor

      Bowles will meet w/Kelly today, but is expected to be let go.

      • ICDogg

        I don’t know why they even waste time with that formality.

  • Rage114

    I might be the only one but I am not a fan of Horton. He seems to be all about himself. His comments after the NE game put him squarely in the same boat as a guy like Swartz (aka – total asshat).

    Tommy – Oregon played in a 3-4, correct? If so, does that mean the hiring of Azzinaro means they are looking to change the defense to a 3-4?

    • deg0ey

      FWIW, as far as I can tell, Azzinaro also ran a 3-4 when he was DC at Duke

    • TommyLawlor

      Oregon used both a 4-3 and 3-4 under Kelly.

  • Kevin_aka_RC

    My first choice as DC remains Rod Marinelli. He’s a 4-3 guy. He’ll both play/cover 2. Has experience under Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy. However, can you trust him alone?

    • Steag209

      My #1 too, I just think about his Bears defenses and start drooling

    • Rage114

      My #1 as well. 4-3. Boat load of experience. Head coaching experience. Does not have the gravitas of a Lovie Smith meaning Kelly won’t have to look over his shoulder the moment things aren’t going well.

      You know if the team has a losing record and Kelly makes even one bad decision as the HC, people would be calling for Smith to take over.

    • ICDogg

      I do think our personnel lend themselves more to a Bears-type D.

  • Ark87

    Supposedly Rod Marinelli is out in Chicago….can we have him Tommy…please? http://www.windycitygridiron.com/2013/1/17/3887222/replacing-ron-marinelli

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    With a couple of good experience NFL defensive Cordinator’s on the market I would be highly disappointed if Kelly opted for a college coordinator with little to no NFL experience. I think if Kelly wants to be successful NFL he does need to surround himself with guys who have experience.

    • TommyLawlor

      I tend to agree, but will say that I trust Chip. If there is some coach he’s high on, I’m willing to support that.

  • dislikedisqus

    It concerns me that a guy with no NFL experience is compiling a staff with a similar vulnerability. It only lengthens the learning curve and the return to competitiveness.

  • http://twitter.com/Westmaniac Wärstman

    So, you hire Jim Washburn, fire him cause he was a nutjob. And hire a guy that looks just like Jim Washburn and looks to be a nutjob? Hey I like the sound of that!

    • TommyLawlor

      Jim wasn’t a team guy. He only cared about the DL. That was his problem. Being a high energy loudmouth was a good thing.

      • http://twitter.com/Westmaniac Wärstman

        Don’t get me wrong. I know Washburn had multiple issues, chiefly being a douchebag. Just thought there was some resemblence. Similar looks, similar style (shouting) and hired before the DC. But I think this will be a more succesful hire.

  • Mac

    Things may get Chippy in Philadelphia this year.

  • ACViking

    Re: Azzinaro

    T-Law:

    Love the guy . . . but he seems sort of, uhm, *loud*.

    How long will that work with NFL players.

    • TommyLawlor

      DL love that.

  • PhillyBirds

    Tommy doesn’t it almost benefit us to want to bring in a guy who may eventually be looked at for head coaching positions. You need to expect that excellence from your D Coordinator, and if he does his job well enough and is young and on the up and up, it’s always just a matter of time before he is swooped up. I know it’s not the ideal scenario to have to change coordinators and schemes often, but the NFL trend of finding the next hot coordinator makes it that anyone who is successful enough will be gone quickly. I feel like we can’t be afraid to make a hire in fears that it may not be long term. Hire the best man for the job right now, and worry about staff longevity as the time comes.

    • deg0ey

      Agreed…

      If we hire Horton and he switches us to the 3-4, I see two possible outcomes:

      1) He somehow completes the transition and turns this into a good D really quickly, resulting in his swift move to an HC job

      2) He doesn’t turn it around abnormally quickly and people get hung-up on how he hasn’t worked miracles and we get to keep him for at least a couple years.

      Either way we wind up better off than we are now.