Defense Falls Apart In Bowles’ Debut

Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Todd Bowles.It’s difficult to imagine Todd Bowles’ debut as the Eagles’ new defensive coordinator going any worse.

Through three quarters, the Atlanta Falcons’ offense possessed the ball six times. And on all six occasions, they ended up with points – three touchdowns and three field goals.

“We ran the same things,” Bowles said, an answer that many players backed up. “The guys have to play… the coaches have to coach. We didn’t coach it good. We didn’t play it good, and they beat us. They deserve all the credit in the world.”

Matt Ryan picked the Eagles apart, completing 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Through six games, the Eagles had limited opposing quarterbacks to 52.7 percent completions, the top mark in the league. But Ryan completed 75.9 percent of his passes and averaged 9.0 yards per attempt. His first touchdown went to Drew Davis in the back of the end zone. The Falcons faked a wide-receiver screen to Julio Jones and got the Eagles’ entire defense – including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin and Kurt Coleman – to bite.

“My guy ran a screen. I came up for the screen, and they ran a guy behind me,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.

“Busted coverage,” said Bowles. “We had two guys that should have been there. They were not.”

In the second quarter, Jones burned Nnamdi Asomugha for a 63-yard touchdown down the left sideline. Ryan was perfect to Jones on the day, completing all five of his attempts to the second-year receiver for 123 yards.

“He just created separation and got it,” Asomugha said. “There was nothing special in particular. He just got it.”

Asked if he felt Asomugha could still keep up with receivers on those vertical routes, Bowles said, “I do. I think it’s part of technique. Nnamdi got beat today on a deep ball, but you know, a couple people get beat every week. We’ve got to correct it. We’ve got to coach them better. They’ve got to play better.”

Bowles had not called a game since he was the defensive coordinator at Grambling State in 1999. But the players backed their new general, taking responsibility for their poor performance.

“Us as individuals not making the plays,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “We’re put in the right position. We’ve got to look at ourselves. It’s not schematic, it’s not the defense. It’s nothing to do with the coordinators or coaches. That’s all on us as players.”

“It’s embarrassing,” added Asomugha. “It’s embarrassing to come out and for us to put that out there. We’re a better team than what we showed today.”

That last part can actually be debated. The Eagles are 11-12 in their last 23 games. The defensive coordinator was fired during the bye week. The starting quarterback isn’t sure if he’s going to get the ball when the team travels to New Orleans. And the owner has said that an eight-win season won’t save the head coach.

They’ve lost three in a row and four of their last five. On the season, the Eagles have been outscored, 155-120.

They’re 3-4 after seven games, and really, it’s hard to argue that they should be anywhere else.

Bowles was asked what it meant for him personally to be on the wrong end of such a lopsided defeat in his first game as defensive coordinator.

“It’s frustrating that we lost,” he said. “It’s frustrating that we didn’t play well and we lost. It’s not going to make or break me. We’ll line up next week. You’re going to have some ups and downs in this business. I’m frustrated today. I’m pissed off, and as well we should be. I don’t like losing. I’m a sore loser. We lost.”

Can the Eagles get things corrected in the final nine games?

“You can go from the outhouse to the penthouse in one week,” Bowles said. “Right now, we’re in the damn outhouse.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

  • morgan c

    Defense under Castillo this year gave up 18 ppg. Best completion percentage, and great on third down. Today was probably the worst defensive performance of the past two years. Great call Andy!

    • Meh

      Pshhh. Yeah cause Juan would’ve saved the day and stopped the Falcons. Sorry not buying it. Falcons wanted it more. Falcons won.

    • Brian

      Degree of difficulty needs to be considered. That was the best offense we’ve faced this season. Not that it was even a decent performance by any stretch, but its all relative.

      • xlGmanlx

        Giants aren’t exactly going through a points drought

  • Doc

    Mr. Asomugha, you are that bad. Our secondary needs more than bandaids. Asomugha is the not the answer we thought he was.

    • JofreyRice

      ha ha, Sheil telling it like it is, that was about as bad as it can get for a defensive coordinator’s 1st game. This blog is strong with Aso apologists, the guy just straight got beat, and it ain’t the first time in an Eagles uni.

      • bentheimmigrant

        Does anyone on this site think Nnamdi can keep pace with Jones? The real problem with that play was that we had someone on the field who could, but he was covering someone else.

    • bsn

      The fact that you think Asomugha isn’t an upgrade over who was it, uhhhh, Dimitri Patterson…? makes me think you aren’t paying that much attention to when he plays well, which has been almost every game. He shouldn’t have been covering Julio, dude’s a burner. DRC should’ve covered him all game and Nnamdi should’ve followed White. How quickly us fans forget the fact that he shut down Megatron, only to have DRC and our safeties screw it in the 4th.

  • mr. magee

    Given that Bowles is new, it would be refreshing to hear him (either right after the game or after looking at the film) put the blame squarely where it belongs – ie, either the players were placed in good enough positions to make plays, or they weren’t. If the coaches are not willing to say that, what’s the point in asking them questions?

  • BlindChow

    Julio Jones is the speedster, right? Why didn’t they just have DRC trail him all day? That worked pretty well with Torrey Smith. Or would that go against Bowles’ “That’s just what they’d EXPECT us to do!” gameplanning?

  • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

    If one or two players were playing lousy, then I would say it’s the players fault, but when the entire offense and defense is playing bad, it’s the coaches.