Jim Washburn is credited with developing many players into stars; his most recent is Jason Babin.
Babin, a former first-round pick who become something of a journeyman and spent last season with the Eagles, is heading to the Pro Bowl next week. He is bringing Washburn and his wife along to Hawaii.
“It stinks that he’s leaving. He’s the greatest position coach I’ve ever had," Babin told Jim Wyatt, of the Tennessean, who broke the initial story of Washburn's talks with the Eagles.
"He’s the guy who poured water on me, let me have sunshine, gave me fertilizer, and really let me grow."
"There’s been no “Hey Jason, 'We want you in Philly' discussions, but it would be hard for me not to contemplate it."
Babin is a free agent, but said he won't rule out a return to Tennessee:
“There’s no hard line, but it’s like “Dang, Wash was my coach. So we'll see."
UPDATE: The Eagles have announced that they have hired Washburn as their defensive line coach.
"We are thrilled to add a quality defensive line coach in Jim Washburn,” said head coach Andy Reid in a statement. “He had a great tenure with Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans and he’ll play a big part in the development of our defensive line moving forward. He’s had a number of Pro Bowl players working under him over the years with the Titans and we’re happy to have him join our coaching staff in Philadelphia.”
Said Washburn: “Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Jeff Fisher and the Titans organization for allowing a nobody like me to coach in the NFL for the last 12 years.
"An opportunity came along for me to join the Eagles and I felt like it was good timing. At this stage of my career, I’m ready to make a change. This is no reflection on the state of the Titans but just a good opportunity for me.
“My wife, Sandy, and I have long planned to make Middle Tennessee our home and that is still our plan. However, we look forward to moving to Philadelphia and joining a top-flight organization like the Eagles and work for a premier coach in Andy Reid.”
Jim Washburn, the 61-year-old Tennessee Titans assistant who seems to be in the process of becoming the Eagles' defensive line coach, is known as a fiery, demanding technician, who feels he has found his niche in teaching d-linemen their craft.
"I just like coaching, and I'm blessed to be at this place," Washburn, who joined the Titans in 1999, told a Nashville reporter in 2003. "I don't want to be a head coach or a coordinator. I just like what I do."
Washburn went to the whip to get the most out of the Titans' 2002 first-round pick, Albert Haynesworth. "I was like,'is this guy serious?' He was cussing at me, and everything, and I didn't know what to expect," Haynesworth said, in the 2003 story. "He's going to express his feelings. I didn't think I could take it, but I did, and it helped me out a lot."
Titans head coach Jeff Fisher called Washburn "a passionate instructor." Fisher's assistants work on one-year contracts, and Washburn might have tired of that arrangement, especially with Fisher's fate briefly up for grabs when the 2010 season ended, and the longtime head coach under pressure to deliver big in 2011 or move on.
Washburn coached on crutches for several weeks this past season after a sideline collision with a player in a Sept. 19 game.
It was Washburn who pushed for Tennessee to sign Jason Babin as a free agent last year. Miscast as a linebacker after being drafted in the first round by the Texans, Babin made the transition to defensive end but didn't quite find a foothold in Seattle, Kansas City or Philadelphia. Washburn freed Babin to just beat the tackle in front of him and go after the quarterback. Babin responded with 12.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl berth.