PHILADELPHIA — Eagles coach Andy Reid finally grew tired of defensive line coach Jim Washburn’s forceful personality and us-against-the-rest-of-the-team coaching style Monday.
Reid fired Washburn just a few hours after the Eagles returned from a 38-33 loss to Dallas Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Former Eagles assistant Tommy Brasher, who coached the defensive line under the late Jim Johnson in 1999-2005, will assume that role for the rest of the season.
Washburn becomes the second coach to be dismissed this season. Reid previously canned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo after the defense blew fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back games.
“This isn’t a move to protect my job or anything like that,” said Reid, who is expected to be fired after the season. “This is a move I feel needed to be done now, so I did it now. One of my responsibilities is if I feel something has gone too far one way, I have to change it. (Firing Washburn) wasn’t all about the last game. It was something I had on my mind for a while.”
Washburn, 62, had developed a reputation for alienating players and coaches on the team. He first drew attention for getting into a sideline altercation with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg during a game last season.
He reportedly also downgraded Castillo in front of the rest of the defense. Washburn was hired by Reid before he decided to promote Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator prior to last season. One of the stipulations in Castillo’s hiring was that he had to adopt the “Wide 9” defensive line system that Washburn brought to the Eagles from Tennessee.
“Let’s just say there were things I was disappointed in,” Reid said. “He’s a good football coach. It just didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to work.”
Wasburn’s system worked very well last season. The Eagles registered 50 sacks in 2011, tying Minnesota for the NFL lead. Defensive end Jason Babin, who credited Washburn for resurrecting his career with the Titans, led the Eagles with 18 sacks and made the Pro Bowl.
The Eagles’ pass rush has struggled this season, however. They collected two sacks against Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Monday but still have only 20 sacks on the season through 11 games. Babin, who was released last week, had 51/2.
Reid said the Eagles will still use the “Wide 9” on occasion, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles primarily will rely on a more traditional four-man front in an effort to improve a defense that has been terrible since Bowles succeeded Castillo.
Eagles’ opponents have scored 28 points or more in the last six games. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 16 combined touchdown passes and no interceptions in that span.
Brasher, 61, has not coached in the NFL since retiring from the Eagles at the end of the 2005 season. He also coached the Eagles’ defensive line in 1985 under coach Marion Campbell, then worked for Atlanta (1986-89), Tampa Bay (1990) and Seattle (1992-98) before coming back to the Eagles as a member of Reid’s original coaching staff in 1999.
During his last stint with the team, Brasher coached a cast of top-notch defensive linemen such as defensive end Hugh Douglas and defensive tackle Corey Simon. Both were Pro Bowl players under his tutelage. Of the current players, only defensive end Trent Cole and defensive tackle Mike Patterson know Brasher. Both were rookies in 2005.
Brasher earned the team’s Ed Block Courage Award in 2001 while he battled to overcome cancer. Health issues prompted him to leave the team after the 2005 season.
“He’s a great coach,” Patterson told The Press on Monday. “I have a lot of respect for him. I learned how to play the game and learned the ways of the NFL from him. He’s a hard-nosed guy, but he knows the game and he knows his stuff. I’m really excited to play for him again. I know he’s going to be the guy to get us where we need to be.”
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