Interestingly enough, many in Philadelphia have a negative opinion about Undlin after working with the team considering several of the struggles of the defensive backfield, the spot he coached. One such person who doesn’t have a thought like that is Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Jenkins has worked under Undlin for the last handful of years, and he has a good opinion of him. As a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Marcus Hayes explained, Jenkins thinks Undlin deserves a lot of credit for the successes of the team and the defense.
Here’s a look at what he had to say:
“Undlin, 48, will be the Detroit Lions’ next defensive coordinator, his first coordinator’s job since he left his alma mater, California Lutheran, in 2002. He coached the Eagles’ defensive backs since 2015. None has flourished. Few have played to their pedigree.
Jenkins said Undlin deserves credit nonetheless.
“For him to do what he’s done with these guys, in the scheme we play, was really remarkable,” Jenkins told me last week. “He’s a very good teacher.”
The piece, as a whole, paints an unflattering picture of Undlin as a coach and seems to describe him as a guy who has been lucky to have been in the league as long as he has and be getting a promotion from Detroit.
Nevertheless, the opinion of a player like Jenkins carries weight. Detroit’s backfield has arguably been worse than Philadelphia’s in recent seasons, so there might be nowhere for the team to go now but up.
That’s especially true now that Undlin will be working in a new defensive scheme under Matt Patricia which might appeal to him a bit more.
Undlin having a good relationship with one of the stars of the defense bodes well for his ability to connect with players, something he will need to do from day one in Detroit.
Corey Undlin Biography
Undlin broke into the league in 2004 with the New England Patriots as a coaching assistant, which is likely how he got to know Matt Patricia and the other members of the staff. He joined the Cleveland Browns as an assistant coach from 2005-2008, coaching in a few roles there including assistant special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach.
From there, Undlin spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-2011 as a defensive assistant and a defensive backs coach. He moved on to the Denver Broncos as a defensive quality control coach and defensive backs coach until 2014. After that, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive backs coach, a post he held through the end of 2019.
Undlin’s only coordinating experience came at little-known California Lutheran in 2000-2001 just before he made the jump to Fresno State as a graduate assistant.
Over the years, Undlin has worked with a number of solid defensive backs in the NFL, which should give hope to the fact that he could do a solid job with those same players in Detroit.
Matt Patricia’s Experience With Corey Undlin
Obviously, for any position coach to get a major gig like this, the head coach would have to have a great relationship with him. That seems to be the case here with Undlin as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press pointed out. Patricia and Undlin had history together dating back to 2004 when they each worked with New England, and Patricia has referred to Undlin by name before when breaking down the Eagles.
Obviously, many folks will see this as some sort of nepotism, but it was obvious that whomever was going to coach the Detroit defense would have to have a history with Patricia.
At 48, Undlin has youth on his side as well as experience in coaching with some of the better defenses in the league. His work with the Eagles, although mocked by fans on the internet, is significant. Developing names such as Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills is significant. The Eagles also managed injuries well and were able to get multiple second and third string players to play up to potential. That development likely figured into the decision.
The hope is that Undlin can have a positive effect on Detroit’s young defenders. How he’s able to connect will likely tell the story of how good he does with the Lions.
READ NEXT: Lions Make Special Teams Coach Hire