The Eagles and defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson are parting ways, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Wilson was an internal candidate for the defensive coordinator job after Jonathan Gannon took the head coaching job in Arizona. But he was passed over when the Eagles hired Seahawks associate head coach and defensive assistant Sean Desai.
So after two years as the Eagles’ defensive backs coach, Wilson is moving on. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the split.
Wilson, 40, appeared to be a very good candidate for the DC job in Philly. Not only did he have a strong resume but he also had the support of players inside the NovaCare Complex and not just defensive backs. So it might have been a tricky situation for Wilson to return in 2023 after getting passed over.
But it’s also not a huge surprise that Wilson is gone. Even though Wilson was in Indianapolis at the Combine last week with the Eagles, the fact that head coach Nick Sirianni wouldn’t commit to having Wilson back was a pretty big hint in this direction.
“Yeah, we'll obviously go through that as we continue on,” Sirianni said last week at the Combine. “Does the staff dynamic fit? Does Sean [Desai] have anybody? But Dennard is a great football coach. He's done an outstanding job. If he is still our defensive backs coach, we'll be lucky to have him because he know how good of a coach he is.
“We're not to that process yet. We just finalized that Sean will be our defensive coordinator, so we're not there yet. I think the world of Dennard and how good of a football coach he is.”
In two years with Wilson, Darius Slay returned to Pro Bowl form, James Bradberry was named a second-team All-Pro, Marcus Epps turned into a starter, C.J. Gardner-Johnson successfully switched positions to safety and the Eagles in 2022 had the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense.
While Wilson was an internal candidate, his promotion would have likely led to a bigger shakeup schematically than bringing in Desai, who is a Vic Fangio disciple. Wilson's background before coming to Philly was under Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams.
With Wilson’s departure there are at least two vacancies to fill on the defensive coaching staff. Because former linebackers coach Nick Rallis also left, joining Gannon in Arizona as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.
The Eagles’ assistant defensive backs coach the last two seasons has been D.K. McDonald, who has known Sirianni since their days together at IUP. It’s possible he could simply be promoted to defensive backs coach.
The other two position coaches under Gannon in 2022 were defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Jeremiah Washburn, who were both in Indy last week with the team.
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