Darius Slay started a publicity campaign last December to get Dennard Wilson a defensive coordinator job. The Pro Bowl cornerback credited the Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach for elevating his game.
The Eagles were listening to Slay and took immediate action. The organization promoted Wilson this summer by adding the title of “Defensive Passing Game Coordinator” to his plate. Wilson has done it all in his 14-year coaching career, including a four-year stint as a professional scout.
The 40-year-old is content with his role as Jonathan Gannon’s right-hand man, but he’s not blind to opportunity. If it comes knocking at his door, Wilson plans to answer.
“Look, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve been around some great defensive coordinators, in my opinion,” Wilson told reporters. “I’ve been groomed by Gregg Williams, I’ve been groomed by Todd Bowles, who are very good in this league, and they’re very thorough. I’ve been tutored by them. I know how to run a ship. I know the responsibilities, so if the opportunity presents itself I’ll be ready for it. But I’m here where my feet are, alright. And I’m just trying to be the best defensive back that I could be.”
Wilson went on to praise his boss, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who was in the mix for a few head-coaching gigs last year. Wilson and Gannon have built a strong relationship, one founded on trust and collaboration.
“All good leaders have to be able to adjust and they also listen. It’s not about themselves,” Wilson said of Gannon. “Internally, JG does a great job of self-evaluating, making corrections, getting better, and owning up to it.”
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Extra Kudos for Eagles GM Howie Roseman
It’s been a banner week for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. First, legendary NFL agent Leigh Steinberg raved about his dealings with Philly’s top executive. On Saturday, it was Wilson’s turn to shine a spotlight on Roseman.
He brought up everything from the way he has integrated minorities into the Eagles front office to asking coaches for feedback on free agents.
“Howie has done a great job period. And Howie has done an outstanding job this offseason, not only with acquiring talent. Howie was very good also with maneuvering the front office … before I want to give praise to Howie on how he integrated minorities within the building upstairs and showing those type of things.
“But Howie is very good at listening to his coaches, to his personnel, gathering information. Howie does an outstanding job of evaluating talent. He looks at the film. And Howie will come to you and ask, what do you think about this guy? How does he fit? What’s going to be the role within the team? Where do you see him?”
Wilson had been answering a question about the team’s decision to sign James Bradberry before he went off on a Roseman tangent.
“And he asked me about James,” Wilson said, “and when the subject came up about James — I wanted James when I was with the Jets when he was a free agent — I said I was all on baord. And I’m happy to have him.”
Full Trust in Safety Marcus Epps
Marcus Epps has been running with the first-team defense to begin training camp. It’s his job to lose at this point. Everyone seems to believe that Epps has what it takes to be a starting-caliber safety, including Wilson.
“All you gotta do is put on the film from last year,” Wilson said of Epps. “Marcus earned his keep. When you watched Marcus at practice every day last year, he battled his ass off. He was tough, he was physical, he was always where he was supposed to be. He made the plays he was supposed to make.”