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NFC East is wide open without Eagles in mix…

The Redskins-Giants game on MNF was extremely entertaining to me last night, and part of the reason was nostalgia for classic NFC East battles in December that mean something for both teams. Remember when that category used to include the Eagles? It wasn't that long ago.

But in 2012 the Eagles are grounded, relegated to the basement of the division. We are being dismantled before our own eyes.

The latest no-brainer is the firing of "Crazy Jim" Washburn as DL coach. He is temporarily replaced by Good Ole Tommy Brasher, who beat cancer way back in the 2001-2005 run of the Birds and then retired.






Tommy Brasher (left) with Arkansas coach Frank Broyles back in Brasher's playing days in the early '60's…

Reid fired Washburn just a few hours after the Eagles returned from a 38-33 loss to Dallas Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Washburn becomes the second coach to be dismissed this season. Reid previously canned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo after the defense blew fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back games.

“This isn’t a move to protect my job or anything like that,” said Reid, who is expected to be fired after the season. “This is a move I feel needed to be done now, so I did it now. One of my responsibilities is if I feel something has gone too far one way, I have to change it. (Firing Washburn) wasn’t all about the last game. It was something I had on my mind for a while.”

Washburn, 62, had developed a reputation for alienating players and coaches on the team. He first drew attention for getting into a sideline altercation with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg during a game last season.

He reportedly also verbally downgraded Castillo in front of the rest of the defense. Washburn was hired by Reid before he decided to promote Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator prior to last season. One of the stipulations in Castillo’s hiring was that he had to adopt the “Over defense 9 technique" DL system that Washburn brought to the Eagles from Tennessee.

“Let’s just say there were things I was disappointed in,” Reid said. “He’s a good football coach. It just didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to work.”

The Eagles’ pass rush has struggled this season, however. They collected two sacks against Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Monday but still have only 20 sacks on the season through 11 games. Babin, who was released last week, had 5 1/2.

Reid said the Eagles will still use the Washburn system on occasion, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles primarily will rely on a more traditional four-man front in an effort to improve a defense that has been terrible since Bowles succeeded Castillo.

Eagles’ opponents have scored 28 points or more in each of the last six games. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 16 combined touchdown passes and no interceptions in that span.

Brasher, 71, has not coached in the NFL since retiring from the Eagles at the end of the 2005 season. He also coached the Eagles’ defensive line in 1985 under coach Marion Campbell, then worked for Atlanta (1986-89), Tampa Bay (1990) and Seattle (1992-98) before coming back to the Eagles as a member of Reid’s original coaching staff in 1999.

During his last stint with the team, Brasher coached a cast of top-notch defensive linemen such as defensive end Hugh Douglas and defensive tackle Corey Simon. Both were Pro Bowl players under his tutelage. Of the current players, only defensive end Trent Cole and defensive tackle Mike Patterson know Brasher. Both were rookies in 2005.

Brasher earned the team’s Ed Block Courage Award in 2001 while he battled to overcome cancer. Health issues prompted him to leave the team after the 2005 season.

“He’s a great coach,” Patterson said on Monday. “I have a lot of respect for him. I learned how to play the game and learned the ways of the NFL from him. He’s a hard-nosed guy, but he knows the game and he knows his stuff. I’m really excited to play for him again. "

Bringing Tommy Brasher back feels to me like Reid is acknowledging he is on the final leg of his Farewell Tour.