June 4, 2024   6 MIN READ

Seeing It The Same

New DBs Coach Shares Vic Fangio's Vision


During the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Broncos head coach Sean Payton spoke glowingly about Christian Parker, his former defensive backs coach who bolted for Philadelphia during the offseason to join Vic Fangio’s staff as Eagles passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach.

“They’re getting a bright, young coach,” Payton said back in February. “Obviously, Vic knows him, Vic’s worked with him before. Christian’s really sharp.

“I’d say his degree, if you will, in defensive football is in that scheme. He was a pleasure to work with and I’m excited that he has that opportunity. Vic and I talked at length about Christian. He was one of the coaches that we kept from last year’s staff.”

Christian Parker

GETTY IMAGES: New Eagles DBs coach Christian Parker coached under Vic Fangio in Denver and says he shares the same vision for defense.

Shortly after being named Broncos head coach, Payton largely overhauled his coaching staff, discarding all but four holdovers from Nathanial Hackett’s staff.

Among those retained was Parker, a then-31-year-old position coach widely viewed as a rising star among the coaching ranks.

Parker last season presided over a secondary that boasted a pair of Pro Bowlers in Patrick Surtain and Justin Simmons.

He also warrants praise for fostering the development of second-year cornerback Ja’Quan McMillan, a former undrafted free agent who thrived when inserted in the slot.

But when the opportunity to reunite with Fangio, who overlapped with Parker in 2021 as Broncos head coach, presented, Parker opted to relocate to Philadelphia to enhance the knowledge absorbed under Fangio and perpetuate his evolution as a coach.

“Me and him see the game very similar,” Parker said, “just in terms of limiting explosive plays and having different ways that the defense looks like same, but it can be different. The illusion of being complex, down in and down out. And I think that’s something I believe in with him.

“He allows his coaches to coach. He’s been a coordinator so long that he has such a good understanding of what he does, and he knows what the offenses are gonna do to counter it. So, the year I spent with him in 2021 in Denver, I learned a great deal, and it was important for me to kinda continue that education for myself.”

Christian Parker

GETTY IMAGES: DBs coach Christian Parker is optimistic about his young talent on the Eagles in the secondary.

In Philadelphia, Parker will be tasked with mending a beleaguered secondary marred last season by communication lapses, regression and injuries.

While a handful of those culprits remain, there are also some talented first- and second-year players to be nurtured, most notably rookies Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean.

Mitchell figures to vie for a starting job and DeJean conjures intrigue because of his ball skills and versatility.

One should expect communication, simplification, tailoring to strengths and an understanding of the “why” behind each call to be hallmarks of a Parker-led secondary.

And despite last season’s coverage woes, Parker intends to lean on improving technique and knowledge in his latest venture. He also insists that he has the talent to execute his vision.

“I think we have good players,” Parker said Monday, on the eve of Eagles mandatory minicamp. “I think it starts there. You know, in the secondary, there’s some positions that the other guys might not matter in certain 50-50 situations down there. So, we just gotta keep improving our technique and schematic knowledge. But I think that we have the players to do so, and I think that they’re hungry to do so as well.”

Reprising his role as the Eagles’ top cornerback for the fifth consecutive season is veteran Darius Slay, whom Parker noted for his leadership, citing his willingness to share his knowledge of the game as well as wisdom off-the-field.

While Slay’s insight is hardly limited to younger players, the 33-year-old has already made an impact on Mitchell, serving as a mentor to the first-round pick.

Slay’s enthusiasm and quick-witted humor is a stark contrast to the more reserved Mitchell, but the connection was instantaneous. And Mitchell, as Parker said, is a sponge.

Then there’s the uncertainty surrounding Slay’s counterpart, the maligned James Bradberry, who when factoring in the financial ramifications and drastic decline doesn’t appear to fit into the new equation.

But while Bradberry was absent from the two media-attended OTA practices, Parker says he’s seen him “a good amount,” adding that even in the couple of days he hasn’t been in attendance, the two have communicated via phone call or Zoom.

“I think he’s very motivated,” Parker said. “James is a real professional. He’s played in this league long enough that he understands what comes with playing the corner position in the NFL.

“He’s had a great mentality, he’s worked hard. He’s learning the defense just like everybody else, and we’re looking forward to seeing that he does this year.”

Versatility is another common thread binding the Eagles’ new-look secondary.

Whether at cornerback, nickel or safety, the team has assembled a room of interchangeable components. Even with Roy Anderson coaching the cornerbacks and Joe Kasper overseeing the safety group, Parker has a vision and ideology  to ensure that moving parts doesn’t interfere with communication.

“We meet together, and we start individual together before we kind of disperse in different technical development,” Parker said. “I think it’s important that guys understand … Darius Slay is hearing what Reed Blankenship is being coached on. Isaiah Rodgers is hearing what we’re telling Tyler Hall at nickel, what have you.

“Getting that straight first and then getting the versatility off of that, when you have a room that’s together like that, guys understand the big picture.

“And that’s something we’re big on, the why behind each call and how we want it to express itself. So, when you all are together like that and you’re able to touch-and-go in different assets, it helps with the development of the defense overall.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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