Eagles training camp 2022: Dennard Wilson is standby defensive coordinator

If the Eagles defense improves as some believe in 2022, Jonathan Gannon is likely gone.

After all, Gannon has already had three interviews with the head coach this past offseason after his first year as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator. So if this unit exceeds expectations, it stands to reason that another team will likely hire him.

Where would that leave the Eagles?

Well, they may already have his replacement in the building with defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, whom Gannon called his “right hand” last week.

And when Gannon was interviewing for jobs in the spring, Wilson was of course thinking about how he would handle a defensive coordinator job if and when he found himself in that seat.

“Look, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been around some great defensive coordinators in my opinion,” Wilson said Saturday. “I was groomed by Gregg Williams, I was groomed by Todd Bowles, who are very good in this league and very thorough. So I was framed by them.

“I know how to steer a ship, I know the responsibilities. If the opportunity arises, I will be more than ready for it. But I’m where my feet are and I’m just trying to be the best defensive back coach I can be.

Wilson, 40, was promoted last month. In addition to his work coaching defensive backs, the title of Defensive Passing Game Coordinator was added next to his name.

Although both Wilson and Gannon said Wilson’s role didn’t change much with the promotion, it was a sign of how the organization feels about their sophomore DB coach.

“Jonathan is the defensive coordinator, so my responsibility is always coaching defensive backs,” Wilson said. “And whatever he needs to do, I’m just here to help and help him. If he needs me to do more throughout the year, I’m ready to do it. Whatever he asks me to do is my responsibility. The responsibility stops with him.

Gannon, who was a defensive backs coach himself, explained that it’s a difficult role because there are four to six DBs on the field at the same time, all of whom are doing different things. Wilson is highly respected among his players, including veterans like Darius Slay and Anthony Harris.

Wilson played college football at Maryland and had a cup of coffee in the league with Washington in 2004 as a practice squad player. But Wilson suffered a season-ending injury and began coaching at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he coached a young Rodney McLeod.

Like Gannon, Wilson has a scouting background. He was a professional scout with the Chicago Bears for four years before returning to coaching with the Rams in 2012.

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

This upcoming season will be Wilson’s eighth season in the NFL as a defensive backs coach. And it only seems like a matter of time before he can lead his own defense.

“Obviously we like it as an organization,” Gannon said. “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.’ I’m grateful to have Dennard.

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