Eagles reportedly interview Jim Leonhard for Defensive Coordinator role

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According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Philadelphia Eagles have completed an interview with Jim Leonhard for their Defensive Coordinator vacancy.

Who is Jim Leonhard?

Leonhard is a former 10-year NFL safety who retired from the NFL back in 2014. It didn’t take him long to find a gig, either. He joined the Wisconsin Badgers, with whom he played for back in the early 2000’s, as a defensive backs coach in 2016 and rose to Defensive Coordinator in less than a year. He was a finalist for the 2017 Broyles Award, given to the nation’s best assistant coach.

After a few strong years with the Badgers, he was given the Interim Head Coach tag when Paul Chryst was fired. He somehow turned the season around and won the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, ending his short stint with a 5-3 record. However, with a new Head Coach in Luke Fickell, the Badgers decided to let Leonhard go.

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What is his philosophy like?

Jim Leonhard is renowned for playing an aggressive style of defense, emulating Rex Ryan-type defenses. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that he spent a huge chunk of his NFL career playing under him.

Here’s a great insight to his philosophy

While he utilizes a base 3-4 scheme, his defense deploys various fronts, with a 2-4-5 design regularly used against pass-heavy teams. Leonhard is known for using an array of stunts and blitz packages to aggressively attack offenses while leaving his defensive backs in man-to-man coverage.

Jim Leonhard uses a lot of disguises and is happy to remold his defense from a 3-4 into a 2-5-3, which considering the strength of schedule on the horizon, is going to be huge for this Philadelphia Eagles team. Especially after such a lack of adaptation from their last defensive coordinator…

For Eagles fans, this is salivating. Sure, the team racked up 70 sacks this year, but it came at the expense of blitzing. While that’s no bad thing, it’s fair to say that Eagles fans have become attached to those aggressive defenses since it resonates so well with the hard-nosed mentality of the City. Despite such a strong season in 2022, there was a real desire to see elite pass rushers like Haaason Reddick being fired out of a cannon.

MADISON, WI – NOVEMBER 26: Wisconsin Badgers Interm Head Coach and Defense Coordinator Jim Leonhard during a college football game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers on November 26th, 2022 at Barry Alvarez field at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. (Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire)

Should the Eagles be interested?

Absolutely. And if they do sign him, it should be worth noting that it would mean even more than a regular hire. Jim Leonhard’s exit agreement reportedly includes a clause that will see him earn $1M from the Badgers for doing absolutely nothing. He’ll be in no rush to find a job and we all know that Alabama should come knocking.

So, once again Leonhard is a hot commodity. With interest from college and NFL teams alike, the ball is in his court.

If Jim Leonhard signs with Philly, it’s because he wants to be in Philly. He’s a young coach with an aggressive mindset and Head Coaching experience. What more could you want?

Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire