Eagles fans awoke to surprising news Monday after the early-morning announcement that the team had relieved Jim Washburn of his duties as defensive line coach and replaced him with longtime defensive line coach Tommy Brasher. Head coach Andy Reid explained the decision in his weekly press conference, noting that it was something that had been weighing on his mind prior to Sunday night's 38-33 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
"I think it's the best thing for the Philadelphia Eagles and this football team that I made that move," said Reid. "This was a move that I made. Nobody else made this move, that's important for you to understand. This isn't a move to save my job, that's not what that is. This is a move that I think needed to be done now, and so I did it now.
"I would just tell you that there were things that I was disappointed in and as time went on ... I just thought it was the right thing to do right now for this football team ... It wasn't all about this game. That's not what it was. It was just something that I had been pondering and working through. I just thought it was the right thing."
Reid later clarified that his decision to part ways with Washburn was largely independent of last night's outcome.
"He's a good football coach and I think it was just maybe a give and take," he said. "He's going to have a great career down the road with somebody else. He's had a great career and he's going to have a great career, that just didn't quite work the way I wanted it to work."
Washburn was hired by Reid during the 2011 offseason and brought with him the much ballyhooed "wide-nine" scheme that helped produce a league-best 50 sacks last season. But the production of the defensive line this year have not lived up to that level of expectation, as the team's ranks tied for 27th with only 20 sacks through 12 games. Last week, defensive end Jason Babin, a Pro Bowler last year who credited Washburn with revitalizing his career, was released in order to give some of the team's younger players an opportunity to play more.
Brandon Graham, Babin's replacement as the starting left defensive end, produced 1.5 sacks against the Cowboys Sunday night in his first start of the season.
Now, Graham, Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox et al. will be under the tutelage of Brasher, the Eagles' defensive line coach in 1985 and from 1999-2005, for the final four games of the season.
"Having Tommy Brasher back here again brings back a very loyal, loyal assistant coach that I've had here for a number of years, who understands exactly what I'm about and what I'm trying to get done with a young defensive line," Reid said. "So for these next four weeks, Tommy's going to coach the defensive line. Obviously his experience will also benefit (defensive coordinator Todd Bowles) and the other young coaches that we have there."
As for the "wide nine," Reid said that "it just won't be as prominent" for the remainder of the season.
"Will there be a time and place we use it? Yes," Reid said. "But will it be every snap? No."
Reid also updated the Eagles' injury situation. Safety Kurt Coleman is day-to-day after suffering a cartilage bruise in the sternum and rib area. Michael Vick, now the No. 2 quarterback, is in phase four of the post-concussion protocol, while running back LeSean McCoy is in phase three.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.