There have been 11 changes to the Eagles coaching staff since the Green Bay Packers came into Lincoln Financial Field and eliminated the home team in the opening round of the playoffs. Some of those changes have been promotions, like David Culley's bump to senior offensive assistant in addition to his role as wide receivers coach. Some of the changes have been surprising, like Juan Castillo's move from the offensive line to defensive coordinator. And there have been some brand new faces added to the mix, like Jim Washburn on the defensive line and Howard Mudd on the offensive line.
While the hiring of Castillo as defensive coordinator is the headline move, there have been several domino effects within the position coaching ranks. Of those new guys, which coach has the toughest job ahead in what figures to be an interesting offseason? Let's take a look.
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd - Mudd, regarded by many as the best offensive line coach in the league, inherits an offensive line with some very solid pieces and a couple holes to fill. On the left side, Mudd will work with perennial Pro Bowler Jason Peters and the always steady Todd Herremans. Jamaal Jackson, working his way back from a torn triceps, and Mike McGlynn will be in the mix at center. Winston Justice is dependable at right tackle and King Dunlap is a viable swing tackle. The big hole figures to be right guard, where both Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole are scheduled to be free agents. Jackson or McGlynn could be in the mix here, as could a draft pick to be named later. Mudd will also need to spend a significant amount of time teaching his new linemen his personal blocking techniques, which vary in ways to the techniques employed by Castillo for the past 13 years.
Defensive line coach Jim Washburn - Like Mudd, Washburn is as highly regarded as anyone for his expertise. And like Mudd, Washburn has some building blocks and some areas that need work. Trent Cole is one of the best defensive ends in the league and is the force behind the pass rush, but Washburn will aim to complement Cole's production both on the left side and up the middle. Last year's first-round pick Brandon Graham is on the mend from a late-season torn ACL, while Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp are solid veterans. Washburn has made as point of saying he expects a bounceback year for Brodrick Bunkley at defensive tackle, and with Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon and Trevor Laws, there is the making of a very solid nucleus at the position. It's also worth noting that the incoming draft class is considered very deep on the defensive line, so don't be surprised if there's even more help on the way for Washburn.
Linebackers coach Mike Caldwell - Caldwell probably faces the most uncertainty of any new coach as to just what personnel will be at his disposal in 2011. On board for certain are Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou and Keenan Clayton. Add to the mix newly signed Rashad Jeanty, an intriguing 27-year-old who figures to compete on the strong side. But with four members of the 2010 team facing free agency, notably starters Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims, Caldwell will have to bring several players up to speed. And even if someone like Bradley were to return, the holdovers will still be learning a new defensive scheme that is said to be more reliant on the linebackers' ability to tackle in the open field behind a defensive line expected to be rushing heavy upfield.
Secondary/cornerbacks coach Johnnie Lynn- Lynn comes to Philadelphia by way of San Francisco, where he coached the secondary for the last five seasons. Here, Lynn will focus his attention on the cornerbacks where he too has a Pro Bowler to build around. Lynn will likely have the luxury of putting Asante Samuel on the left side and spending most of his focus on coaching up the rest of the cornerback ranks. Joselio Hanson is a reliable nickel corner. Trevard Lindley flashed as a rookie and will be a player to watch under Lynn. But the spotlight position for Lynn will be right corner, where Dimitri Patterson and Ellis Hobbs are both scheduled to be free agents. The Eagles figure to bring in someone, whether through the draft or free agency, to add to the mix opposite Samuel, but Lynn will be charged with fostering that acclimation.
Secondary/safeties coach Mike Zordich - Here's another coach who faces some uncertainty as to just what his position group will look like in 2011. Quintin Mikell, the leader of the position for the past few seasons, is scheduled to be a free agent. Nate Allen, who had a very promising rookie season under Mikell's tutelage, suffered a late-season torn patella tendon, though he expects to be ready for mini-camps. Kurt Coleman was probably the most pleasant surprise in 2010, as he more than held his own as a rookie seventh-round pick. Mid-season pick-up Colt Anderson is also in the mix, though he's best known for his superior special teams abilities. The key issue for Zordich is likely to be whether Mikell returns to the fold, and who replaces the Pro Bowler if he doesn't come back.
You make the call: who has the toughest job ahead?
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:26 p.m., February 21