Former Eagles assistant Jim Washburn calls himself an “anti-Christ”

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 12: Twyon Martin
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 12: Twyon Martin /

You’ve probably never thought of former Eagles assistant Jim Washburn as he recently described himself.

“I was the anti-Christ in Philadelphia..So anyway I got fired with four games to go, and that was a bitter pill for me to take.” The anti-Christ? Really? Talk about exaggeration. Jim Washburn was signed to a three-year contract to be the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach in 2011, but he was fired during the course of his second season on December 3rd of 2012. That followed a loss in a Sunday night game to the hated Dallas Cowboys. The loss, at that time, extended the Eagles losing streak to eight games.

Perhaps, one of the ugliest terms in football to the typical Eagles fan is “Wide Nine”. Washburn had made a name for himself during his tenure with the Tennessee Titans where he coached their defensive line from 1999 to 2010. During that time, Tennessee ranked seventh in the NFL in sacks with 474, and they were fifth in run defense. The wide-nine technique is often credited to Bear Bryant and Bum Phillips. Washburn employed that scheme during his time with the Titans.

The “Wide Nine” technique

In this system, both defensive ends align themselves outside of the last offensive players on the line of scrimmage (the offensive tackle or the tight end). They, then, angle themselves directly at the quarterback, and often set up in a track position. This system was partially responsible for Washburn’s success in Tennessee.

That success led Eagles to hire him on January 19th of 2011’s calendar year. Free agent Jason Babin came along for the ride. If you’re a little younger and are unfamiliar with Babin, just ask any Eagles fan who’s a little older, and just watch the reaction you get.

The idea is to increase the likelihood of sacks for the defense. The drawback was it put a lot of pressure on linebackers to make plays in the running game as huge running holes were created before the ball was snapped. That created the danger of teams being gashed in the running game. Too often, the Eagles saw exactly that, and the “Wide Nine” was short lived in Philadelphia.

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At least until it was reborn in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz‘s scheme and produced less than 35 sacks in 2016. That’s another story for another day however.

“Coach Wash”

Washburn’s recent interview on “The Midday 180” on 104.5-The Zone in Nashville turned some heads for obvious reasons. It isn’t often that someone would voluntarily refer to themselves as such an evil figure. It’s even less often that we’d make that type of reference and relate it to football.

Sure, the 2012 season resulted in 30 sacks and the Eagles giving up 27.8 points per game. Those numbers and former head coach Andy Reid‘s disdain for Babin (seen as a coaching error by “Wash”) were both instrumental in Washburn’s removal from the Eagles coaching tree, but maybe “Coach Wash” is exaggerating just a tad.

We assure you that there have been worse coaches in the NFL and worse coaches in Philadelphia. Washburn is, currently, out of the NFL but did do some advising for the Miami Dolphins a season ago.