The defense allowed 21 points per game under Juan Castillo through the first six weeks of the season. Over the past two weeks under Todd Bowles, the edge has dulled and the unit has yielded 26 points per game. They gave up 763 yards of offense in that span and have not generated an interception.
Most Eagles players insist that the approach has not changed much at all since Andy Reid decided to make the switch at defensive coordinator. But their instant regression — particularly in the secondary — cannot be pure coincidence.
Turns out, the defense is working through some things as a result of the move to Bowles.
“We kept the basic principles of what we did, so the defense really didn’t change that much,” said Brandon Hughes. “Just the way [Bowles] calls it, some of the blitzes. And I think the biggest difference is having some vision coverages in there so guys can see what’s going on.”
What is vision coverage?
“You run enough man that you see [only] your man and it’s hard to see route progressions. Vision coverage you see your guy and what’s going on around you, and you can make an educated decision on what you might be getting and maybe steal one — steal a play.”
The Eagles still deploy a lot of press man, but are using different looks in which the corners have more depth. It is a tweak, but one that is taking some getting used to.
“Sometimes when you put in stuff like vision coverages and you do have a new defensive coordinator, you have to get used to the way he calls the game,” said Hughes. “Guys have to get used to being next to each other on certain plays. As you’re getting used to his play-calling you’re also getting used to where you’re going to be at — where certain guys are going to be at. At first it kind of slows things down, but not really because we didn’t change the overall structure of the defense.”
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in particular has seen a dropoff in production since Bowles replaced Castillo. There has been a dip across the board. Fundamentals have eroded as the unit’s sure-footedness has waned.
“There’s a whole bunch of stuff that plays into it, but nevertheless it’s our job and we have to get our job done,” said rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks. “Regardless of the situation, we have to get (expletive) done around here.
“I truly believe we have the best guys on this team, for real. We’re a talented team. I believe in us, and I feel there’s going to be a big turnaround.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
It is depressing. It is informative. It is undeniable. It is the Kapadia All-22 review.
A look at the D-line’s performance Monday shows that Fletcher Cox has gotten into a pass-rush rut.
The Eagles are down another lineman. Details on the injury that put Todd Herremans on the IR.
Michael Vick had a “heart to heart” with his brother Marcus after Monday’s Twitter tirade.
The Eagles signed safety Phillip Thomas to the practice squad.
A look at what the national media is saying about the Eagles.
If you haven’t listened to our show from Tuesday, check out the podcast.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reid has made it to No. 1 on Mike Florio’s coaching hot seat list.
“We always here this after a loss: We’ve got to get better, we’ve got to get better. Maybe you’re as good as you’re ever going to get. Maybe this is it. Maybe this is as good as your team will be.
“The switch isn’t there. This is as good as it gets. Now make the most of it.”
Here’s the entire top-5:
5) Mike Shanahan
4) Mike Mularkey
3) Mike Munchak
2) Pat Shurmur
1) Andy Reid
With Herremans out for the year, Demetress Bell will play left tackle and King Dunlap will move over to the right side, writes Reuben Frank.
Although Bell was exclusively a left tackle during his three years in Buffalo, he finished the game at right tackle while Dunlap – who has played both sides in his five years in Philly – stayed at left tackle.
When the Eagles returned to practice on Wednesday, Bell was back at his more familiar left tackle position, and Dunlap was over on the right side, where he started three games in 2010 in place of injured Winston Justice.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com ranks the top 20 rookies in the league so far. Fletcher Cox, the lone Eagles representative, comes in at 13.
Very athletic, Cox has started two straight games and has one sack and four hurries. Heading into last Monday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints, he’d collected four tipped balls and four impact tackles (defined as taking place in the backfield or within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage).
Maybe it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s Cowboys week. Practice at 1:50. Bobby April, Marty Mornhinweg and Todd Bowles speak.