Eagles' Tommy Brasher jumped at chance to return to coaching
Zach Berman, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012, 1:52 AM
When Andy Reid asked new defensive line coach Tommy Brasher to return to coaching and help the Eagles for their final four games, Brasher didn't need to think much about it.
Brasher is 71 and lives in Seattle and has a bride of 51 years. But he's a football coach, and this is what football coaches do.
"I told Andy I had to talk it over with my wife, but I really didn't because she's been a coach's wife for 51 years, and she's one of the best," Brasher said Thursday.
Brasher had been retired from the Eagles since 2005, although he has served Reid as a consultant and had frequent communication with the Eagles head coach. With Reid in a bind after firing Jim Washburn on Monday, the head coach reached out to his former assistant.
"I agreed to come back because I'm a coach, first of all," Brasher said. "Andy wanted my help, and I'll give Andy whatever."
While these next four games won't save the Eagles' season or possibly Reid's job, it will be important for the future of the team. So Brasher is tasked with overseeing a defensive line that includes young players who could be long-term starters for this franchise - defensive ends Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
"I think there's a lot of room to improve, but I'm the kind of guy who thinks everyone can improve. I don't care how long they've been playing," Brasher said. "I don't think the improving process or developmental process ever ends."
There will be a major adjustment for the linemen who were schooled under Washburn's wide-nine alignment and must play a different system with Brasher. Brasher explained how his defensive linemen will react off the first step as opposed to exploding into the backfield at the snap. Brasher didn't know how long the transition would take because he's never been in this situation. But he's confident the players can adjust.
Cox said he does not expect the change to be too difficult for him, either, and said the week of practice will help. Even though Cox was viewed as an ideal fit for Washburn's scheme, he remained confident that he could make plays.
"He's a big, quick guy," Brasher said of the 2012 first-round draft pick. "He could play 3-4. He could play the scheme I'm teaching. He could play the scheme anyone teaches."
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said the linemen will still rotate like they did with Washburn in charge, but that a fresh perspective will help. Bowles said he will allow Brasher to determine who will best adjust to the new technique off the first step, which Bowles acknowledged will be a bigger adjustment than merely lining the players up in different spots. It won't happen overnight, Bowles said, but "football instincts" will take over.
The transition that Brasher most worries about is having the players listen to someone they do not know. Only Trent Cole and Mike Patterson played for Brasher when he was last with the team.
Brasher said he called the players in for individual meetings Monday. He didn't come with a prepared speech, using the time instead to acquaint himself with his new pupils so "when they came to work on Wednesday they didn't wonder who the coach was."
There's an adjustment for Brasher, too. The pace of a coach's life is regimented and grueling. Brasher did it in the NFL for two decades, but he's been out of the grind for seven years.
"It's kind of like riding a bike. But there is a groove, you get doing it day after day, week after week, year after year, that I lost," Brasher said. "It's kind of like reconditioning an athlete."
Yet Brasher still didn't think twice when Reid called. When Reid first announced the coaching change, he described Brasher as a "very loyal" assistant. Reid hired Brasher in 1999, watched him retire in 2005, and has kept in touch with him ever since.
"I wasn't looking for it, necessarily, but Andy wanted me to," Brasher said of returning. "And it's a great opportunity."
Contact Zach Berman at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer
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Posted 07 December 2012 - 06:40 AM