Eagles Training Camp 2022: Denard Wilson is the defensive coordinator waiting

If the Eagles’ defense improves the way some think it will be in 2022, Jonathan Gannon will probably be gone.

After all, Gannon had already given three coach interviews last season after graduating from his first year as a defensive coordinator for the Eagles. So if this unit exceeds expectations, it makes sense that another team would hire him away.

Where will that leave the vultures?

Well, they may already have a replacement in the building at defensive back coach Denard Wilson, whom Gannon last week called his “right hand”.

And when Gannon was interviewing for jobs in the spring, of course Wilson was thinking about how he would handle the defensive coordinator position if and when he ended up in that seat.

“Look, I’ve been doing this for a long time and have been around some great defensive coordinators in my opinion,” Wilson said on Saturday. “I’ve been groomed by Greg Williams, I’ve been groomed by Todd Bowles, he’s very good in this league and he’s very thorough. I’ve been taught by them.

“I know how to run a ship, and I know the responsibilities. If the opportunity presents itself, I will be more than ready for it. But I am here where my feet are and I am just trying to be the best defensive back coach.”

Wilson, 40, was promoted last month. In addition to his job as a defensive back coach, the Defensive Passing Game Coordinator title was added to his name.

While both Wilson and Gannon said Wilson’s role didn’t change much with the promotion, it was a sign of what the organization thinks about their second-year coach in the DBs.

“Jonathan is the defensive coordinator so my responsibility is still to coach the defensive back,” Wilson said. “And whatever he needs to do, I’m just here to help him and help him. If he needs me to do more throughout the year, I’m willing to do it. Whatever he asks me to accomplish, that’s my responsibility. Buck hangs with him.”

Gannon, who was himself a defensive backs coach, explained that it’s a tough role because there are four to six players playing on the field at once doing different things. Wilson is well respected among his players, including veterans such as Darius Sly and Anthony Harris.

Wilson played college football in Maryland and had a cup of league coffee with Washington back in 2004 as a player on the coaching staff. But Wilson sustained an injury towards the end of the season and began coaching at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he coached young Rodney McLeod.

Like Gannon, Wilson has an exploratory background. He served as a professional scout with the Chicago Bears for four years before returning to training with the Rams in 2012.

While with the Rams, Wilson was promoted from QC to defensive linebacker coach. He then held that position with the Jets (2017-2020) before joining the Eagles in 2021.

Next season will be Wilson’s eighth season in the NFL as a defensive coach. It seemed only a matter of time before he could defend himself.

“Obviously we value it as an organization,” Gannon said. “I myself, I talk to him every day. I think sometimes he gets mad at me. He’s like, ‘Hey, I have to do some work. Get out of here. Stop talking to me.'” Grateful to have Denard.”

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