The defensive linemen for the Tennessee Titans can rest easy. They won't be subjected to film of Trent Cole any more. That's how big a fan new defensive line coach Jim Washburn is of the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
"I think he's a bank, he's a really good player. He's a guy I really screwed up on when I was evaluating college (tape)," Washburn said. "I guess I just got lazy and didn't watch him. I think he had an ankle or leg sprain or something at the Combine. But, he's a great player to me."
Washburn met reporters on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex for the first time since being named to his current post on January 19 after spending the last 12 seasons in Tennessee. Washburn said that he first met Cole at the Pro Bowl following the 2007 season and spent an hour talking over dinner and not a word was said about football. The two talked about a passion that both men share ... hunting. Feasting on quarterbacks is something that Cole and Washburn's Titans teams have done well over the years. To get a jump on 2011, Washburn and Cole have already done some film study at the NovaCare Complex.
"He's a cool coach," Cole said. "He wants the best out of us."
Cole isn't the only player excited about the addition of Washburn. Prior to the NFL Draft last year, Washburn spent a day with Brandon Graham and at the time Graham was begging for the Titans to draft him. One year later, Graham gets his wish.
"He was my favorite dude. I love him. He's a neat kid. I really like him a lot," Washburn said. "I hope he gets off this (ACL) injury."
Cole and Graham both fit the mold of what Washburn wants out of his linemen.
"I like fast guys that play hard and attack," Washburn said. "The year we went to the Super Bowl (1999 season), which is so long ago I can't hardly remember it, in Tennessee, the old Jevon Kearse, I don't want to get him confused with the one you saw up here, played at 243 pounds and Kenny Holmes had a really great year that year weighed 253. There's high schools that have bigger ends than that. You have to be aggressive and be able to move."
Washburn said that he will have the Eagles defensive linemen "attack a little bit more than read." Don't expect to see defensive ends drop back in coverage often. To see a prolific pass rusher like Cole do that so often in 2010 was "disheartening" to Washburn. Do expect to see the wide nine technique implemented where the defensive end on the strong side lines up outside the tight end. It has been said that Washburn runs a one-gap scheme, but that's not necessarily the case.
"There's a lot of misconception about that. We want to whip the blocker and tackle the ballcarrier if he's in that gap or that gap," Washburn said. "Just play football, I don't want to make it that complicated. I'm not smart enough to."
Evidence of Washburn's impact can be seen in former Eagle Jason Babin. In Babin's first seven seasons, the former first-round pick had 17.5 sacks. This past season, Babin earned his first Pro Bowl nomination with 12.5 sacks. But Washburn won't take credit for Babin's turnaround.
"It wasn't me. It was the system. He was like a chicken on a June bug," Washburn said of Babin.
A player Washburn believes that can have a similar turnaround is defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. Washburn pointed out that Bunkley played for legendary coach Mickey Andrews at Florida State and had a lot of success playing in a similar style to Washburn's. Bunkley had 11.5 sacks as a Seminole and a total of 37 tackles for loss which ranks fifth in school history.
Washburn sent seven different defensive linemen to the Pro Bowl during his 12 years in Tennessee, the most in the NFL during that span. Players seem to like playing for him, but Washburn believes otherwise.
"They don't," Washburn said. "Most of them probably don't like me until it's over."
At 61 years old, Washburn believes that he still has his best coaching days ahead of him. He has no interest in being anything more than the coach of the best defensive line coach - as opposed to the best defensive line coach. Washburn doesn't expect to have any additional say or input in personnel. And, believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons he came to Philadelphia was Michael Vick.
"They've got a quarterback. They've got two. We ain't got a chance if we don't have a quarterback," Washburn said. "We haven't had a quarterback in Tennessee since Steve McNair left. God rest his soul."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 3:30 p.m., February 9