Early Monday morning, word got out that the next Detroit Lions defensive coordinator will be Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. Like many, I didn’t know too much about Undlin, so I went scrambling for information on the guy.
Thankfully, there are a lot of people in Philadelphia that know things about him and offered their thoughts on the work he’s done over his two decades worth of coaching.
My first reaction, admittedly, was a bit put off by the news. The Eagles secondary was awful in 2019, and it’s never good optics to hire a coach from a bad unit. But Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes Undlin was a well-respected coach in Philly and personnel issues were the team’s undoing this year:
Whenever I would ask players who internally could replace Jim Schwartz, Undlin was always the answer.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 13, 2020
Some seemed to want to blame the #Eagles CB issues on him. Not here. Personnel was the primary issue.
This is a good opportunity for him, although he won’t initially call plays https://t.co/QdUZABAc11
And Dave Birkett with the good catch here. Lions head coach Matt Patricia, who worked alongside Undlin in 2004 with the Patriots, actually mentioned Undlin earlier in the 2019 season, before Lions vs. Eagles:
More Patricia on Undlin & the Eagles' secondary b4 Lions-Eagles. "I think those guys are just trying to understand the techniques that they’re teaching. Cory Undlin, who actually coaches the secondary, is a good friend of mine and I know he’s got those guys working really hard."— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 13, 2020
The Eagles players are apparently big fans of him, too, according to Giants beat reporter Matt Lombardo:
Really solid hire. I remember talking to several Eagles defensive backs about what makes Cory Undlin a great coach is that he’s a great teacher. Lions getting a good one. https://t.co/ZiZSpeXq3y— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) January 13, 2020
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo concurs:
Good for Undlin. A good guy and a coach the Eagles players think highly of. https://t.co/jmXDyuueFN— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 13, 2020
Garafolo also offered up this great moment for Undlin moments after winning Super Bowl 52.
Of course, there are plenty of doubters, too. Many are understandably skeptical of the Lions hiring a coach that is already friends with head coach Matt Patricia:
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) January 13, 2020
Hiring your friends to fix your broken team always works
Also, as cruel irony would have it, our friends at Bleeding Green Nation published an article entitled, “Eagles are the only team that hasn’t drafted a Pro Bowl defensive back since 2003” just an hour before the news broke.
For the most part—whatever it’s worth—Eagles fans are happy Undlin is gone, which is no surprise considering how poor the secondary has played over the past couple years. The debate remains whether it was Undlin’s coaching or poor personnel that was the root of the problem.
Bonus: Want to hear what Undlin sounds like as a coach? The Philadelphia Eagles had him mic’d up during training camp last year.