Is Spagnuolo Coming To Philly?
Most of whether Steve Spagnuolo becomes the Philadelphia Eagles’ next defensive coordinator depends on politics. That is, whether Andy Reid feels comfy enough with Juan Castillo and his own conscience to vacate the position, be it via firing or repositioning.
That, and whether he’s cool with coercing a creaky old man with a busted-up hip, offensive line coach Howard Mudd, into retirement, a move that could, conceivably land Castillo, inarguably a sound-minded line coach himself, back in the role he’d previously spent his entire career.
Though even that scenario has its complications:
Would that move – one that would essentially axe the entire smaller/quicker philosophy installed by Mudd this offseason (which, given the constraints of the lockout, was probably a raging pain in the ass for players trying to adjust to it) – jibe with Eagles hog mallies? Would it with Reid, presumably bathing in the sudsy glory of LeSean McCoy’s breakout rushing season, at least in part a product of that line and scheme?
Plus, a decision would likely have to be made on Jim Washburn, architect of the “Wide Nonsense” defensive alignment that’s widely credited for the Birds’ tied-for-league-leading 50 sacks in 2011, and obvious impediment to Spagnuolo, who made his millions (getting there...) with the beef and braun of Justin Tucks and Michael Strahans and Osi Umenyioras, all more sizable and physical players than the ones currently on this Eagle roster, all of whom traditionally lined up in “five techniques” on the outside shoulders of opposing offensive tackles. (In case you haven’t seen a single second of Eagle football this season, Trent Cole and Jason Babin are coached to line up on the outside shoulders of tight ends, just inside of Lincoln Financial Field Parking Lot C.)
Such wholesale changes are possible, and a theory that they’re imminent make sense of Reid’s long-winded silence so far this offseason. But they’re not likely, for the simple fact that Reid’s a loyal guy who might not warm to sweeping changes (like, say, Bill Cowher’s 2003 house-cleaning, that brought in two new coordinators, Ken Wisenhunt and Dick LeBeau, and a 2005 Super Bowl ring) and the inherent shock factor in such a thorough staff shakeup.
But that doesn’t preclude the possibility of Spagnuolo, per se, given that he’s been quoted as saying he “would be interested in any opening that might occur with the Eagles,” where he spent time as a linebacker coach, regardless of any specific opportunity. Just makes it a little more difficult.
And how does any self-respecting American like Jeffrey Lurie mitigate a problem, like the distinct possibility that Spags and Washburn won’t want to work with one another?!
How much are we talking to smooth out any wrinkles in what the organization (might) hope is Spagnuolo’s soon-to-be-pressed Eagles polo?
Well, if you figure that Spagnuolo - once the “it thing” coordinating commodity following the Giants 2007 Super Bowl win, is once again an “it thing” coordinator; you have to assume he’d be wanted elsewhere also - would want “it thing” coordinator cash now, the Eagles would be looking somewhere in the ballpark of $2.1 million over three years, what Texans DC Wade Phillips signed on for after being canned by the Cowboys midway through the regular season a year ago.
Or, to reference the Jerry Joneses as often as possible in these 650 words, Eagles ownership could be looking at the $3.5 million per that Dallas gave Jason Garrett to tide him over before eventually becoming the Cowboys head coach last season.
Or, given fundamental market principles like “inflation” and “desperation,” more, given how super long ago the Garrett deal was drafted (circa 2008) and how super badly Reid could use Spagnuolo right about now.
Seems we’ll find out the value Lurie is willing to place on never being this “angry” and “frustrated” and “disappointed” again.
This post was written by Matt Hammond of 973ESPN.com. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattHammond973.