Jeff Fisher made it clear a day after the season-ending loss to the Indianapolis Colts that he was not happy with the performance of his defensive line.
In particular, the Tennessee Titans’ coach expressed concern about what he felt was an inordinate number of offside penalties, which spoke to a lack of discipline.
“It is the nature of the way we play defense, it is all about getting the edge and getting a jump and beating the snap count,” Fisher said at the time. “There is a trade-off for a few penalties, if you are getting sacks, but when the penalty numbers get high as they did in consecutive games there is no excuse for it.”
Now it’s up to Fisher to find someone to fix the problem.
Jim Washburn, the Titans’ defensive line coach since 1999, was hired Wednesday by the Philadelphia Eagles to fill that same role.
"Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Jeff Fisher and the Titans' organization for allowing a nobody like me to coach in the NFL for the last 12 years,” Washburn said. “An opportunity came along for me to join the Eagles and I felt like it was good timing. At this stage of my career, I'm ready to make a change.
“This is no reflection on the state of the Titans but just a good opportunity for me.”
The Titans were one of eight NFL teams that had at least 40 sacks during the 2010 regular season. Defensive end Jason Babin was sixth individually with 12.5 and was the only member of the Tennessee defense to earn a Pro Bowl invitation.
It was the fourth time in the last six years the Titans ranked among the league’s top 10 in sacks. Plus, the two highest single-season sack totals in franchise history (55 in 2000 and 54 in 1999) came with Washburn in charge of the defensive line.
Tennessee is seventh in the NFL with 474 sacks since the start of the 1999 season.
"We are thrilled to add a quality defensive line coach in Jim Washburn," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. "He had a great tenure with Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans, and he'll play a big part in the development of our defensive line moving forward. He's had a number of Pro Bowl players working under him over the years with the Titans and we're happy to have him join our coaching staff in Philadelphia."
Washburn had no NFL coaching experience when he joined the Titans. He primarily had worked in college football, most recently at Houston and Arkansas. His work at the professional level was limited to two years in the World League of American Football and one in the Arena Football League.
With Tennessee, he helped five different players earn Pro Bowl invitations, beginning with Jevon Kearse, who set an NFL record for sacks by a rookie and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1999.
"My wife, Sandy, and I have long planned to make Middle Tennessee our home and that is still our plan,” Washburn said. “However, we look forward to moving to Philadelphia and joining a top-flight organization like the Eagles and work for a premier coach in Andy Reid.”