Report: Washburn was roadblock to Spagnuolo

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Jim Washburn's personality was a roadblock to the Eagles landing Steve Spagnuolo, according to a report. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Over the weekend, I linked to a National Football Post report that said Steve Spagnuolo's decision came down to the Eagles and the Saints.

And he chose New Orleans in large part because Drew Brees provided a better chance than Michael Vick and the Birds to win the Super Bowl.

But there were other factors involved as well.

SI.com's Peter King says one of them was Jim Washburn:

Someone Who Knows told me a major roadblock to Steve Spagnuolo taking the defensive coordinator job in Philadelphia was the presence of very strong personality Jim Washburn on the defensive line.

King's note is interesting because he mentions Washburn's personality, not his system.

Last offseason, Andy Reid hired Washburn to coach the defensive line before appointing a defensive coordinator. By all accounts, the Eagles' pass rush was among the best in the NFL under Washburn. The Birds finished with 50 sacks (tied for a league-high), and 46 of them came from defensive linemen. If you look at which defensive players met or exceeded expectations, almost all played on the defensive line. (Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson).

During the past several weeks, there's been a lot of talk about whether the wide-9 could co-exist with a system that relied on blitzing and dropping linemen back into coverage. Paul Domowitch of the Daily News wrote a good piece for SportsWeek saying yes, the two aspects could co-exist.

But apparently, Spagnuolo's reluctance had more to do with Washburn's strong personality than his system. During the Eagles' loss to the Patriots last season, Washburn and Marty Mornhinweg had to be separated after a heated exchange on the sideline.

King also reports that Sean Payton emphasized three things during his pursuit of Spagnuolo: winning, Brees and total autonomy. Obviously, his recruiting pitch worked.

As for the Eagles, Les Bowen of the Daily News and Jeff McLane of the Inquirer are reporting from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where Juan Castillo isn't saying much.

It seems clear now that the Eagles were interested in Spagnuolo, but no one knows for sure in what capacity. Plan B could either be to fall back on Castillo or pursue another coach.


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