Jim Schwartz

Eagles lose defensive backs coach Cory Undlin to Detroit Lions

Eagles lose defensive backs coach Cory Undlin to Detroit Lions

Matt Patricia has hired Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin as the Lions’ new defensive coordinator, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

Patricia and Undlin were entry-level assistant coaches on Bill Belichick’s staff in 2004 and have remained close.

Undlin replaces Paul Pasqualoni, who informed the Lions earlier this month that he was leaving coaching. Pasqualoni was head coach when Donovan McNabb was at Syracuse. McNabb, of course, quarterbacked the Eagles when they faced Undlin, Patricia and the 2004 Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Chip Kelly hired Undlin as the Eagles’ defensive backs coach after the 2014 season to replace John Lovett, who had been with the team for two years, and Doug Pederson kept him in the same role when he replaced Kelly after the 2015 season.

The Eagles have allowed the 10th-most passing yards in the NFL during Undlin’s four years under Jim Schwartz, but opponents have thrown the third-most passes. Opposing quarterbacks had an 87.4 passer rating against the Eagles during that span, 12th-lowest in the league, and completed 62.1 percent of their passes, 8th-worst in the league.

During that four-year period, the Eagles allowed 44 pass plays of 40 yards or more, 5th-most in the league, and 18 TD passes of 40 yards or more, 4th-most in the league.

But the collection of cornerbacks Undlin has had to work with hasn’t exactly been inspiring, and he deserves a ton of credit for holding things together over the last three years with a constantly rotating and changing lineup.

Some 15 different cornerbacks started at least one game for the Eagles over the last four years, and 19 played meaningful snaps in the regular season.

In 2017, the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby starting at cornerback and Patrick Robinson in the slot. 

What is Undlin’s role in the slow or non-existent development of 2nd-round draft pick Sidney Jones and 3rd-round pick Rasul Douglas? It’s impossible to say now, but generally speaking, it appears Undlin has gotten the most out of a collection of late-round picks, street free agents, undrafted players and other teams’ castoffs at cornerback.

Malcolm Jenkins, who hadn’t made a Pro Bowl in his first six seasons in the NFL, made three in five years playing under Undlin.

Dino Vasso is currently the Eagles’ assistant secondary coach and could be a candidate for the opening.

Vasso, who began his coaching career as an intern at Temple in 2011, spent three years as an entry-level assistant under Andy Reid with the Chiefs and followed Pederson to the Eagles after the 2015 season.

Also on Pederson's staff is former Eagle Tim Hauck, who has been safeties coach since 2016. Hauck played 13 seasons in the NFL and was with the Eagles from 1999 through 2001 before finishing his career with the 49ers in 2002.

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Jim Schwartz presumably staying with Eagles after Browns hire Stefanski

Jim Schwartz presumably staying with Eagles after Browns hire Stefanski

The Browns on Sunday reportedly hired Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their head coach, which presumably means Jim Schwartz will be back as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.

Although with Doug Pederson's recent track record on coordinator votes of confidence? Who knows.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Browns will hire Stefanski to replace Freddie Kitchens.

On Wednesday, Pederson was vague about Schwartz’s future with the Eagles but did say offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch would return to the team in 2020.

The next day Groh and Walch were fired.

Schwartz, Pederson’s only defensive coordinator since he became Eagles head coach in 2016, interviewed for the Browns' head coaching vacancy on Thursday.

On Friday, Pederson said on 94 WIP that if Schwartz didn’t get the Browns’ job, he would "definitely" return to the Eagles.

Schwartz spent 2009 through 2013 as head coach of the Lions, taking a 2-14 team in 2009 and going to the playoffs in 2011. He was the Bills’ defensive coordinator in 2014 and worked in the NFL’s officiating office in 2015 before joining Pederson with the Eagles.

Even with just two Pro Bowl players since Schwartz got here — Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox — the Eagles have allowed the 7th-fewest points in the NFL since 2016. The Eagles had the NFL’s 4th-ranked defense during the 2017 Super Bowl season, their highest ranking since 2008.

The Eagle have allowed 17.0 points per game in six playoff games under Schwartz.

Five Eagles defensive coordinators have become NFL head coaches: Marion Campbell, Wade Phillips, Jeff Fisher, Todd Bowles and Sean McDermott.

Stefanski replaces Freddie Kitchens, fired after one season. He becomes the Browns’ eighth head coach since 2008.

Stefanski, a Philadelphia native, attended St. Joe’s Prep and Penn and began his coaching career at Penn before joining the Vikings as an entry-level assistant in 2006 under one-time Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress. He replaced one-time Eagles QBs coach John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator during the 2018 season.

It's unclear how this will affect the Browns' pursuit of Eagles Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry.

He was with the Browns until early in 2019, when he left after then Browns-GM John Dorsey elected to hire Kitchens instead of Berry's choice, who happened to be Stefanski.

The Browns this weekend requested permission to interview Berry for GM vacancy that opened when they fired Dorsey.

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Nigel Bradham wants to be back with Eagles but it’s not that simple

Nigel Bradham wants to be back with Eagles but it’s not that simple

As the Eagles cleaned out their lockers on Monday, there was a feeling of uncertainty in the air.

“Not for me,” said Nigel Bradham while removing items from his locker after his fourth season in Philadelphia.

The 30-year-old linebacker seemed to be more confident about his return to Philadelphia in 2020 than I was. After all, the Eagles will have until the end of the league year (March 17) to either pick up or decline his option and it would be pretty surprising if they picked it up.

But Bradham still expects to be back next season.

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” Bradham said. “I think I had a pretty good season. I think I played well. I had a couple injuries but that’s nothing I can control. That's how it goes. I know this game is crazy, there’s a lot of decisions to be made. You just never know. I feel like I got confidence. Why wouldn’t I have confidence? Done a lot of things here, a lot of great plays, just gotta keep it going, man.”

Before last season, Bradham signed a five-year, $40 million deal but those figures weren’t real. The Eagles gave themselves plenty of outs.

And the Eagles have team options for Bradham in the next three seasons. If the Eagles pick up the option for 2020, Bradham would have a base salary of $8 million next year. Bradham has been an important piece of the Eagles’ defense but it would probably be hard to justify keeping him at that price tag.

So, let’s say the Eagles decline the option.

Would Bradham be willing to give his agent Drew Rosenhaus the go ahead to work with the Eagles and figure out a different contract?

He didn’t rule that out.

“It depends on what’s right,” Bradham said. “Obviously, I feel like I’m going into a good situation. I just take it from there. I don’t really have a say on what should be done or what should not be done.”

The Bills drafted Bradham out of Florida State in the fourth round back in 2012, but he has now played the same amount of seasons and more games with the Eagles, who brought him in back in 2016. During his four years in Philly, Bradham has played and started 58 regular-season games and all six playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, during that span.

For the Florida native, Philadelphia feels like home now.

I enjoy Philly, man, the city, the atmosphere, everything this team does, organization-wise, what we believe in. Just being resilient. I really feel like it matches my play style. Just tough mentally and physically, battle through anything, not backing down from anything. Those type of characteristics, I feel like I have a lot of them. Being put in any situation at any position, things like that. When you’re in those situations, it’s a nice place to be, to call home.

During his years with the Eagles, he’s also had his fair share of off-the-field incidents. There was the battery charge in 2016 and then the time he forgot he had a handgun in his backpack at the airport in Miami. But his production on the field has helped the Eagles tolerate those incidents. Since his arrival, Bradham leads the team in combined tackles with 348. He also has 21 TFLs, five sacks and 11 QB hits.

And there’s no player who knows Jim Schwartz’s defense as well as Bradham. Since Bradham played for Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014, he just finished his fifth season in this defense. That knowledge allows the Eagles to move him around and play him at different positions.

During the first four years of his career, Bradham had four different defensive coordinators. So he’s quite enjoyed getting to settle into a defense during his time with the Eagles. We’ll have to see if Schwartz is back in 2020 — he could get the Browns’ head coaching job — but if he is, Bradham would like to join him.

“First time I ever had a coordinator for that long,” Bradham said. “I think it’s a nice thing, obviously, because I’ve been in both situations. Just take that into consideration. It’s a blessing to have that. I remember having to learn a new defense every year.”

If Bradham has his way, he won’t have to learn another one next year.

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