on Monday morning, it was revealed that the Eagles have lost defensive backs coach Cory Undlin to the Lions, who will become Detroit’s new defensive coordinator.
The Lions are hiring Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin as their new defensive coordinator, per league source.
Undlin and Lions head coach Matt Patricia both began their NFL careers together as coaching assistants with the Patriots in 2004.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 13, 2020
The defensive coordinator position in Detroit is similar to the offensive coordinator position in Philadelphia, as in the head coach calls the plays. Undlin and Lions’ head coach Matt Patricia spent time together on the Patriots staff in 2004.
A change may be welcomed in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ defensive backs haven’t seen much development under Undlin. On the contrary, Undlin did have practice squad and mid-season pick-up corners ready to play when called upon, namely Craig James this year and Cre’Von LeBlanc last year.
Nevertheless, the Eagles are now on the hunt for a new defensive backs coach to work under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Here are some options:
Burke is currently the defensive assistant for the Eagles. He came to the team this year after two seasons as defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins. Under Burke in 2017 and 2018, the Dolphins ranked 16th and 21st respectively in passing yards allowed, and 23rd and 25th in passing touchdowns surrendered. However, the defense made a jump in interceptions from 2017 to 2018 going from 28th to 2nd overall. Prior to being a defensive coordinator, Burke spent eight seasons between the Lions, Bengals, and Dolphins as their linebackers coach. The fit isn’t the best here when thinking of a coach who can develop young corners.
Currently the Eagles’ safety coach, Hauck has been with the team since Pederson was hired in 2016. Hauck played safety for the Eagles for three years from 1999-2001 and had 144 tackles and one interception. Eagles safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod have arguably been the best part of the Eagles secondary, so Hauck might have a leg up on the competition.
The easy promotion would be for Dino Vasso, as he is the assistant secondary coach. e has been with the Eagles in that position since 2016 and previously served in Kansas City as a coaching assistant. He worked under Hall of Fame cornerback Emmitt Thomas and Al Harris in Kansas City.
If Jim Schwartz is looking for familiarity on his staff, look no further than Donnie Henderson. Henderson was the defensive backs coach on Schwartz’s staff when he was the defensive coordinator in Buffalo. That season, the Bills had the third best pass defense in yards, first in touchdowns allowed, and sixth in interceptions. They were also second in net yards gained per attempt. Henderson was on the Bills defensive staff before Schwartz got there and stayed on for two years after he left, but the Bills defense had arguably its best year during that four year span when Schwartz and Henderson were together. Henderson spent 2019 in the AAF as defensive coordinator for Salt Lake City, but is now without a job as the AAF folded.
Also looking for a job is former Cowboys defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard. Richard spent the last two seasons with the Cowboys after spending eight seasons with Seattle as their assistant defensive backs coach, defensive backs coach, and defensive coordinator. With Richard as defensive coordinator, the Seahawks had a top ten defense in passing yards allowed and touchdowns every year. In Dallas, the passing defense ranked 13th in 2018 and 10th in 2019. Would Richard want to make a lateral move to another position coach job? He has the resume for higher positions but there’s only one vacant defensive coordinator position, and that’s in Minnesota. Richard could look to join a division rival to bolster his resume by building up an underdeveloped secondary. He might also entice a big name free agent to join the Eagles.
Now out of a job in Minnesota, Gray is an intriguing name. He’s been the Vikings defensive backs coach since 2014 and here are the ranks in yards and touchdowns allowed since he’s been there: 7th/17th, 12th/11th, 3rd, 11th, 2nd/1st, 3rd/1st, 15th/13th. The resume speaks for itself and he’s helped develop the likes of Harrison Smith, Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes (remember he was an All-Pro in 2017, I know he stinks now), and Anthony Harris (six interceptions in 2019). He also coached with Schwartz on the Titans staff when Schwartz was the defensive assistant and linebackers coach.
Outside the Box
Can I really make an article about a defensive backs coach position and not mention one of the best defensive backs in the history of the NFL? Dawkins was brought on the Eagles staff in July 2016 as part of the scouting staff and a few weeks later he was named Football Operations Executive to help with player development. He was often seen on the practice field working with the defensive backs. He left the team in May 2018 to seek other opportunities, but is it time to bring Weapon X back home? As the only player in NFL history with 25 or more forced fumbles, interceptions, and sacks, he could be the fire that lights the defensive backs up to play at a level Dawkins brought to the Eagles.
Other notable possibilities: Perry Fewell, DeWayne Walker, Steve Wilks, Ray Horton
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports