Lions tab Eagles' Cory Undlin as new defensive coordinator
Allen Park — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia has always likened coaching to teaching, and he's tabbed a former teacher to serve as the team's new defensive coordinator.
The Lions announced Monday they have hired Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin to replace Paul Pasqualoni, who stepped down earlier this month.
Undlin, 48, and Patricia go way back, starting in New England together in 2004, where Undlin was a low-level defensive assistant and Patricia held a similar title on offense.
The working relationship was short-lived, as Undlin moved on to work for the Cleveland Browns the following year, while Patricia stayed with the Patriots for 14 seasons, working his way up to defensive coordinator before he was hired to coach the Lions in 2018.
Undlin's coaching journey has seen him go from Cleveland (2005-08) to Jacksonville (2009-11) to Denver (2012-14) to Philadelphia, where he's coached the team's defensive backs at each stop.
Prior to entering the profession, Undlin played safety for California Lutheran University and briefly taught elementary school before breaking into coaching at his alma matter, from 1998-2001.
"No matter if you’re in the same place or a new place, whenever you’re doing this job, my philosophy is you’ve got to teach and demand,” Undlin said when he was hired by the Eagles in 2015. “The coaching part is exactly the same. Teaching technique and trying to demand out of them that they play it the right way."
Undlin has worked with a number of Pro Bowl defensive backs over the years, including Champ Bailey, Rashean Mathis, Chris Harris and Malcolm Jenkins, with the latter two earning their first selections under Undlin's tutelage.
While in Philadelphia, the Eagles finished fourth in the NFL in interceptions on the way to a Super Bowl victory in 2017, but the team's secondary has battled extensive injuries the past two seasons.
In 2019, five of the team's top six cornerbacks combined to miss 32 games. Still, the Eagles defense finished fifth in opposing completion percentage, while ranking closer to the middle of the pack in yardage and touchdowns allowed.
Undlin replaces Pasqualoni, who stepped down from the coordinator position at the end of the 2019 season. Prior to the departure, he had ceded much of the play-calling duties to Patricia down the stretch.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Undlin will not initially handle play-calling for the Lions.
The Lions still have several position coach vacancies to fill, namely tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs. As part of agreeing to coach the Senior Bowl later this month, the team informed the league they would have a full staff in place before the event later this month.
NFL coaching stops for new Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin:
Patriots: Defensive assistant, 2004.
Browns: Defensive quality control, 2005-06; assistant special teams, 2007; defensive backs, 2008.
Jaguars: Defensive assistant, 2009; defensive backs, 2010-11.
Broncos: Defensive quality control, 2012; defensive backs, 2013-14.
Eagles: Defensive backs, 2015-19.