NFL Rumors: Philadelphia Eagles Could Hire Spagnuolo as Defensive Coordinator

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IDecember 27, 2011

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 12:  Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams reacts to a play against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field December 12, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Seattle won 33-13. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
Jay Drowns/Getty Images

According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Eagles are prepared to hire Steve Spagnuolo as their defensive coordinator once he is fired by the St. Louis Rams after the season.

Here's what Acee said:

"League sources also said this week that it is all but certain that Spagnuolo will join Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia as the Eagles defensive coordinator."

Spagnuolo, 52, was the Eagles linebackers and defensive back coach from 1999-2006 before the New York Giants hired him as their defensive coordinator for the 2007-08 season, when the Giants beat the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The Rams hired Spagnuolo as their head coach in 2009. As the Rams head coach, Spagnuolo has a 10-37 record.

That would mean that the Birds' current defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, would be fired or given another position on the coaching staff. Considering Andy Reid's relationship with Castillo, it's fair to speculate that Castillo will be given another position on the staff—but that won’t be offensive lines coach as long as Howard Mudd is still with the Eagles.

For the Eagles, hiring a proven superstar defensive coordinator in Spagnuolo will give Philadelphia a defense to be reckoned with. If they acquire a linebacker or two who can tackle, their defense will be easily Super Bowl-caliber.

The Eagles defense has been spectacular the last few weeks. They lead the league with 49 sacks. Corners Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have been playing at the level we expected coming into the season.

The biggest weakness is the Birds' linebacker corps, and while they have been playing better, Castillo has been putting them into position to make plays rather than be exposed.

In the wide-nine system the Eagles employ, the gaps between the ends and tackles are humongous. In order to have it be effective, a defense has to have linebackers who can tackle and clog up the holes.

Instead, the Birds have a group of linebackers who are undersized, and tackling isn’t their strength. Lately, Castillo has asked them to stay in the holes rather than try to explode through the holes and stop the runner.

Since they put Casey Matthews back in the lineup a couple weeks ago, the defense has been very effective.

But let's not get lost in the sauce, Matthews is not a starting linebacker on a Super Bowl team. We saw that earlier in the season, and maybe it was because there was no training camp and he’s a rookie who didn’t know what he was doing, but let’s not claim he’s the next Clay Matthews.

Unfortunately, Jamaar Chaney is the Eagles' best backer, but that's not saying much. That's like saying you're the coolest guy at a Star Trek convention. Chaney is a solid backup linebacker. On a Super Bowl-caliber team, he’s a solid role-playing backup.

Like Chaney, Akeem Jordan is serviceable if the Eagles had a star linebacker. With this group as it is right now, the Eagles have a linebacking corps that needs a big, mean linebacker. If the Eagles had Patrick Willis, Brian Urlacher or Sean Lee, then Chaney and Jordan could hold their own.

But the Eagles have neither.

Mainly, that’s because Andy Reid doesn’t value linebackers. He never has in tenure as the Birds' head coach. Will his philosophy change? Probably not.

Will Spagnuolo insist on getting better linebackers? Hopefully.

Because the level this defense is playing at right now with Juan Castillo coaching them could be even scarier once Spagnuolo takes over.

And if you give him a linebacker or two to legitimize the Eagles linebacking corps, that’s a defense nobody will want to play against.

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