HomeDa Birds NewsFormer Philadelphia Eagles Assistant Coach Lucky as His Door Closes in Philadelphia

Former Philadelphia Eagles Assistant Coach Lucky as His Door Closes in Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA – It might be a year late but Dennard Wilson will finally get the opportunity to run his own defense in Tennessee as the coordinator for new Titans head coach Brian Callahan.

In hindsight, that’s a nice outcome for Wilson, who was passed over to become the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator in 2023.

The Eagles probably should have promoted Wilson to replace former DC Jonathan Gannon after the former served capably as the secondary coach and right-hand man for Gannon during the first two seasons of the Nick Sirianni era.

That’s because Wilson not only did a stellar job tutoring the Eagles’ defensive backs, he was endorsed by several veteran players for the promotion, most notably Pro Bowl cornerback and team captain Darius Slay.

In the 2022 Super Bowl year, veteran cornerback James Bradberry and safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps had career-best seasons under Wilson’s tutelage while Slay and Avonte Maddox (when healthy) also performed very well.

 

Had Dennard Wilson gotten the Eagles’ DC job, it would have been operating under the shadow of Vic Fangio.

John McMullen/Eagles Today

After bypassing Wilson, the Eagles will be on their third defensive play-caller since that decision when Vic Fangio returns to take over the Philadelphia defense in 2024.

Fangio’s footprint on the Eagles’ defense reaches far behind his actual presence as the DC, however. Gannon ran his scheme and had the timing worked out, no one other than Fangio, who was a college-like friend of the program in 2022 while sitting out a year before officially joining the Eagles as a consultant leading up to Super Bowl LVII, would have been considered to be the defensive coordinator last season.

Gannon, however, generated late interest by the Cardinals after Fangio had already agreed to terms with Miami to be its DC, leaving the Eagles scrambling when the former was named head coach in Arizona.

Rather than playing the continuity game with Wilson, the Eagles went with Fangio disciple Sean Desai, at least partially on the recommendation from the veteran coach. That turned out to be a disaster and Desai was removed as defensive play-caller in-season by Matt Patricia, who was arguably worse.

Wilson, meanwhile, made the short trip down I-95 to Baltimore and only added to his reputation as the secondary coach for a talented Ravens defensive backfield led by All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton.

It’s probably fair to assume the Eagles’ defense would have been a little better in 2023 had Wilson stayed and taken over the DC role. Still, the personnel deficiencies were so stark that Wilson would have likely been scapegoated once it became clear Fangio was going to become available.

Related: Eagles’ Savior or Set Up? Vic Fangio Finally Arrives

While disappointed by being passed over by Philadelphia at the time, Wilson likely now understands that when one door closes, another one opens.

Wilson’s resume was only strengthened with the Ravens, his opportunity arrives with the Titans under an offensive-minded head coach in Callahan without the shadow of a three-decade coaching legend waiting in the wings.

That’s a win for Wilson even if he had to wait 12 months to see it.

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