Under Bowles, Eagles Secondary In Tatters

A sad and maybe symbolic scene unfolded in the Eagles locker room just before reporters were ushered out late Sunday night. A pained Kurt Coleman, who needed assistance getting his shirt off moments before, walked up to Nate Allen and humbly asked if he would be able to put his deodorant on for him, as he was unable to lift his arms to do it  himself. Allen sustained a shoulder injury in the game and was also limited. But using his good arm, he dutifully performed the task for his fellow safety.

Officially, Coleman was listed with a chest contusion. But he was hurting bad, and it wasn’t all physical.

“It’s a little bit of everything right now,” said Coleman, his voice unable to get above a whisper.

“This sucks. It just sucks. I can’t piece one thing…it just sucks right now…We knew what we were doing, we knew what they were doing. It’s inexcusable really. We’re trying as hard as we can but that’s not enough, we have to be able to execute all the time.”

Coleman and Allen have contributed to a secondary that has fallen apart since Todd Bowles took over as defensive coordinator for Juan Castillo back in mid-October. The numbers are disturbing: Through the first six games, the Eagles were holding opponents to 52.7 percent completions – the top mark in the league. In the following six games under Bowles, that number has shot up to 76.3 percent with 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Tony Romo was 22-of-27 for 303 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 150.5 quarterback rating. He did not have a single incompletion in the second half.

Communication breakdowns. Missed tackles. Lost battles. It all contributed to yet another meltdown.

“As I look at film just from a personal standpoint, in my head I have a whole lot of wows,” said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “Like, ‘Wow, what are you doing?’ At some point, I think as the season keeps going bad, bad, you try to fight so hard and don’t want to do wrong until you end up just doing wrong and you don’t allow yourself to just go out and be [yourself].”

Rodgers-Cromartie appears to have gone backwards under Bowles as a cover corner. As a result, his deficiencies as a tackler stand out more. There were multiple occasions Sunday night when these vulnerabilities came to light, including on Dez Bryant‘s six-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter where the receiver bullied his way right past the former Pro Bowler.

“[Second]-and-goal, I’m playing off him and I read screen, and I just have to keep running my feet. I know he’s a big, strong guy but me going low on him does no justice, so I tried to wrap up, stay high and push him out of bounds,” said DRC.

“I can tackle. Aggressive like a safety? No. But I can tackle.”

The safeties have been having their own issues, to put it mildly. Coleman has been victimized by play-action far too much, and he and Nnamdi Asomugha continue to struggle to get onto the same page. Allen has not fared much better.

“Sometimes, some things are going to happen. It’s part of the game,” said Allen. “You just have to put yourself in the right position to make plays.”

But they haven’t been. They haven’t forced a turnover since November 5 against the Saints. That’s a month-long drought.

“It shouldn’t happen,” said Andy Reid. “I go back and it’s a combination of things. Coaching and playing. We’re all in this together.”

The losing, the ineffectivess, has taken its toll. Coleman stood by his locker after the game unable to undress himself and emotionally taxed. DeMeco Ryans called over to him, and Coleman just shook his head as tears began to well in his eyes. It is a team, a defense, in dire straits.

“This is a team that’s too good not to execute on all cylinders,” said Coleman, pain rolling through his voice. “But I trust my guys, I believe in them. I’m going to continue to push them, and them me, just because I know this team really is good. It just sucks that it hasn’t been able to play out that way.”

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  • Septhinox

    ““This is a team that’s too good not to execute on all cylinders,” said Coleman

    An once again, that’s why you suck. You are NOT A GOOD TEAM. Keep saying that as you go 3-13.

  • Corry

    I feel for Coleman. He’s a try-hard player and I don’t think anyone on the team battles more. But at the same time, this is the NFL, you either perform or find your way to the bench. Coleman needed to sit awhile ago. You could probably argue that they ALL need to sit. Marsh and Hughes couldn’t be any worse.

    • 1972

      coleman isnt a starting nfl player.. hes a special teams gunner. cut him or sit em

  • Tyler Phillips

    Coleman is an all out effort guy that we could love if he was just competent, but he’s not.

  • barry_nic

    Coleman isn’t getting good coaching, and really is not a starter. But he plays as hard as he can. Allen, can play in this league, but poor coaching is killing this kid. Asomughwe, doesn’t seem to have the tools anymore, it happens. But DRC makes me want to puke. He is a coward, and his effort is laughable. I have NEVER seen a DB short are a tacle from five yards out, he acutally pulled his arms back! The second TD, he just didn’t give up his body and go low. We may not have guys that play behind him but he sould be on the bench, just to send a message to the team you can’t play like that an be part of the team. It was nice to see Graham play well though, I like him and he has shown nothing but heart this year.

    • Absecon

      Agreed! The statistic above about completion percentage says it all….inefficient and/or inconsistent coaching stands out like a sore thumb….players have had their problems and made their mistakes, but don’t for a second think you accurately can judge them on the past two seasons. It has been a joke! Bring Allen back to compete for a starting position and draft a safety high and bring in some FA’s, bring back Coleman as a back-up/special teams,restructure Namdi or release him, leave DRC unsigned or sign for one year and let him compete with a high draft pick or some young FA’s under a new coaching staff….

    • 1972

      coleman isnt a starting nfl player.. hes a special teams gunner. cut him or sit em… and u must not see nate allens matador defense. collinsworth kept trying to blame the td on demeco ryans look at the bryant touchdown and the austin touchdown.. he cant stand contact.. u cant have safety that cant hit and be successful.i really need both guys gone. neither one make a lot of money. they re backups!!!! i dont wanna hear about coaching

  • The Guru

    This is the worst secondary I’ve seen as a collective group in 30+ years. I’ve never seen 4 football players so scared of contact in my life. Kurt Coleman is not an NFL player. He’s not even a special teams player. He is atrocious. Nate Allen has completely regressed and there’s no reason to bring him back. DRC is good for a pass interference a game and refuses to tackle anyone. He makes Samuel look like Dawkins. Nnamdi just looks confused and slow.

    Not sure you can replace 4 guys in one year, but move on from DRC, Allen, and Coleman. Sign 2 guys, draft another….

    • FMWarner

      I’ve disagreed with you a lot, but I agree with this. I would bring back Allen though, and I would see what DRC is asking for before I let him walk. He’s talented, but I don’t want to break the bank for him.

  • Philly_Bigz

    philly need some physical corners that aren’t AFRAID to hit someone…namdi and DRC are just horrible…

  • Dynamite

    Sooo…. Can we officially be done making excuses for these corners? Yes, the safeties are dreadful. But DRC and Nnamdi are just not good. And that is at a minimum, the truth is probably somewhere closer to dreadful, soft and apathetic. Its DRC’s walk year, let him walk. And Nnamdi will only get worse (slower) with age, so its worth the 4 mil to get rid of the rest of his contract. Four new starters in the secondary seems ridiculous, but honestly, how could it be worse?

  • firstdown

    drc couldn’t tackle asante….coleman is 3 inchs 2 short… 30 pounds 2 light…& 5,000 brain cells shy of a pump fake…he never plays an NFL snap after this season…book it!!!!

  • Bob A

    There were times when all 4 of these players were perfectly serviceable, and 2 of them have been to the Pro Bowl. Coleman had 3 picks in a game last year. Allen was a 2nd round pick that almost every team gave a second round grade, and until this year, he played like it. There has to be some part of the scheme that makes these players look much worse than they are; age can only explain Nnamdi’s drop off, everyone else is in their prime. Perhaps, Bowles, free from Washburn’s moronic scheme can devise something better; at least he’ll get the chance to put his own stamp on it for 4 weeks rather than have to live with a guy like Wash , who was supposed to be under him in the hierarchy, but yet, he had to live with his absurd coaching ideas.

    • FMWarner

      I agree. Matt is correct insofar as I have never seen a secondary that played this poorly. But all these guys didn’t get bad overnight. That’s why I’d retain Allen and at least see what DRC is asking for. Coleman can get the next plane out of town tomorrow. With Nnamdi, I think it’s probably a number of things…age, scheme, horrible safety play, and the fact that nobody threw at him in Oakland. Here he has a CB opposite him who (at least coming into the season) was very highly regarded, so he’s getting a lot more balls his way.

  • Patrick Henry,The2nd

    “I know he’s a big, strong guy but me going low on him does no justice, so I tried to wrap up, stay high and push him out of bounds”

    What? That’s one of the stupidest things a football player can say. He’s a big strong guy so you MUST go low and WRAP up. What don’t football players understand about the simple fact that if a guys legs can’t move, he can’t run? Its football 101!

  • Terry D. In AZ

    I think DRC would be a great flag football player, unfortunately he’s in the NFL.