Eagles Wake-Up Call: Some Thoughts On Washburn

Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Jim WashburnIt was obvious that something was off in the Eagles’ locker room the minute it opened.

There was a tension that seemed out of place, even for a team that had just dropped its eighth straight. Some employees and players appeared on edge. When an emotional Derek Landri entered the room, he was instructed not to say a word. Trent Cole stood by him at his stall, almost protectively. The defensive line was gathered close.

Andy Reid said he fired Jim Washburn on Monday morning. One source contends that he was terminated just minutes after the loss to the Cowboys, which would help explain the d-line’s body language late Sunday night. It doesn’t much matter now. While some of the details are still blurry, the bottom line is that the much-hyped position coach has been sent packing, and with just four games to play.

By all accounts, Washburn did not respond well to the release of Jason Babin. There is no denying that “Wash” is a Babin guy, so much so that it became an irritant to the rest of the corps. Babin could do no wrong; the harsh criticism was reserved for everybody else. We reported that Cole walked out of a defensive line meeting in the days leading up to Babin’s release — another piece of evidence that the situation was deteriorating. The fact that Reid already had a replacement in place when he fired Washburn further suggests that there was a build-up to this moment.

“It wasn’t all about this game. That’s not what it was. It was just something that I had been pondering and working through and I just thought it was the right time now,” said Reid.

Washburn had ingrained an “Us against the world” mentality in his unit, to the point where it seemed like it was the defensive line against the rest of the team. Perhaps in such a culture it would be acceptable to refer to Juan Castillo, one of the best men in the business, as “Juanita,” since he was an outsider.

A 63-year-old acting like a teenager.

Reid’s fingerprints are all over this. He hired Washburn (before settling on Castillo as defensive coordinator) and therefore must be held responsible. It is on him.

But considering all that was on the line and everything Reid has been through, it was Washburn’s responsibility to do better by his head coach as well. And he failed.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Reid calls starting Nick Foles “the right thing to do.”

Here are some details on the firing of Washburn. Reid tries to explain why he made the move.

Sheil caught up with Brandon Graham, who believes the release of Babin indeed had an impact on the D-line coach.

Can you guess who the most-used wide receiver on Sunday night was?

Want some hope? Look no further than Bryce Brown.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Sports Illustrated put together a list of possible landing spots for Michael Vick. How about the Jets?

The contract extension handed to Mark Sanchez prior to 2012 makes this an extremely unlikely marriage. Unless Vick opts to take backup QB money, the Jets probably won’t be able to afford both guys.

Otherwise, you could see a fit here — the Jets need a shot in the arm on offense, and Vick offers the type of non-traditional skills that attracted the Jets to Tim Tebow. Sanchez’s situation is enough of a headache already, however, without adding Vick to the mix. As it is, Rex Ryan is not sure if Sanchez should continue starting over Greg McElroy, who delivered a win in relief Sunday, or Tebow.

Dan Graziano gives his take on Reid’s decision to go with Foles.

I wrote here a few weeks back that this would be a tough crossroads for Reid, when and if it happened, since he obviously likes Vick and doesn’t want to harm Vick’s chances of finding a job somewhere else after this season, and since by now it must be apparent to Reid (as it is to everyone else) that he won’t be around to coach Foles and the Eagles next year. The question at the time was whether Reid would really do the right thing for a team that appears about to fire him, or stick to his personal guns and keep starting “his guy.” At the time, I wrote that I believed Reid was the sort of man who would see it as his job to do what’s right for the Eagles franchise until such time as he no longer worked for them. This move is an example of doing just that.

COMING UP

A day off for the Eagles. But as we’ve learned with this team, there is rarely a day off from drama.

Reid On Washburn: I Was Disappointed In Some Things

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy ReidAndy Reid didn’t want to go into full detail, but he made it pretty clear Monday afternoon that Jim Washburn’s firing had to do with more than just the defensive line’s inability to get to the quarterback.

“I’m not going to sit here and go into great detail on the whys that I’m doing it, other than I think it’s the best thing for the Philadelphia Eagles football team that I made that move,” Reid said. “This was a move that I made. Nobody else made this move. And that’s important for you to understand. This isn’t a move to save my job. That’s not what that is. This is a move that I think needed to be done now so I did it now.”

A CSNPhilly.com report by Reuben Frank paints Washburn as a disruptive force who undermined the Eagles’ defensive coordinators – going as far as calling Juan Castillo “Juanita” and speaking to him condescendingly in front of players. Reid was asked if it’s fair to say Washburn’s dismissal was not football-related.

“He’s a good football coach,” Reid said. “He’s a good football coach, and I think it was just maybe a give and take. I think he’s going to have a great career down the road with somebody else. …It just didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to work out.”

In other words, yes, that is fair to say.

“I will tell you there were just things that I was disappointed in,” Reid said. “… I just thought it was the right thing to do right now.”

The fact that Reid’s making the move with just four games left indicates that he felt he just had to get Washburn away from the players and coaches immediately. He said he made the move this morning, but had been thinking about it before then.

“It was done this morning,” Reid said. “It wasn’t all about this game. That’s not what it was. It was just something I had been pondering and working through. And I just thought it was the right time.”

Of course, it must be pointed out once again that Washburn’s failure is Reid’s failure. Reid is the one who decided to add the defensive line coach in the first place. Asked if he second-guessed the decision to add Washburn before naming a defensive coordinator, Reid said, “No, that’s not how I feel.”

In the last 39 days, Reid has fired Castillo, released Jason Babin and now dismissed Washburn. With four weeks to go until the season is over, we wait to see what the next shoe to drop will be.

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Bowles: ‘It’s a Messed-Up Situation’

Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Todd Bowles.When answering a barrage of questions about what exactly is going on with the Eagles’ defense right now, Todd Bowles made it clear that his players are failing to properly execute the simplest of assignments.

“The first one was high school cover-3,” Bowles said after the team’s 30-22 loss to the Panthers. “The ball was thrown down the middle of the field. We gave up a touchdown. Inexcusable. The second one was inexcusable too.”

The first one he’s referring to was Cam Newton’s 24-yard touchdown to tight end Gary Barnidge. It looked like safety Kurt Coleman was caught out of position. Barnidge had three catches all season entering Monday night’s game. The score was his first career touchdown.

The second one was a 43-yarder to Brandon LaFell. The Eagles probably should have been aware of LaFell’s ability to make plays downfield. He led the Panthers with 12 catches of 20+ yards entering Monday night’s game. Yet there he was, streaking down the middle of the field, wide-open for the score.

“The second long one was a bust,” Bowles said. “It was inexcusable. Shouldn’t have happened. Everybody knew where they were supposed to be. They weren’t there.”

Why is that still happening at this point in the season?

“I wish I could tell you,” Bowles said.

“They can’t happen. Not at this level, not at this stage of the game, not after what we’ve been through. And everybody has to own up to their responsibility.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what’s led to a complete implosion by the Eagles’ defense. Through the first six games, with Bowles coaching the secondary and Juan Castillo serving as defensive coordinator, the Eagles led the league in opponents’ completion percentage (52.3). Here are the results since then:

 
Completions
Attempts
Completion %
Yards
YPA
TDs
INTs
Matt Ryan222975.9%2629.030
Drew Brees212777.8%2398.920
Tony Romo192673.1%2098.020
Robert Griffin III141593.3%20013.340
Cam Newton182864.3%30610.920
TOTALS9412575.2%1,2169.7130

Opponents are completing 75.2 percent of their passes against the Eagles in the five games since Bowles took over. They are averaging 9.7 yards per attempt with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Not much,” said safety Nate Allen when asked what’s changed under Bowles. “We haven’t changed much. Just put in a few things here and there.  Nothing we can’t handle though.”

Evidence would suggest otherwise.

Bowles’ comments indicate he thinks the players might not be good enough. But he held off from going that far when asked if he had the right personnel to work with.

“I believe we do,” he said. “Everybody’s got to do their own job. Everybody’s got to look at themselves in the mirror and try to get something done. I mean, if you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and take onus on what you did, then you’re not the guy you thought you were.”

Bowles said he might make changes in terms of personnel. But really, that’s not going to accomplish much at this point in the season. Maybe you try to see what you have with unknowns like cornerback Curtis Marsh and safety David Sims. But at 3-8, with the entire coaching staff likely to be gone in a matter of weeks, the Eagles’ season is past the point of no return.

Nnamdi Asomugha was asked if he thought Bowles had any other options besides changing personnel.

“You stick with those people or those groups and you coach them harder,” Asomugha said. “And those players obviously have to take it more – I don’t want to say seriously because they’re taking it seriously – but obviously have to be mentally focused a little bit more than they have been.

“Obviously what Todd has done, I’ve supported, we support. There’s some things that mentally we need to be sharper on.”

As for Bowles, this season has turned into a complete disaster. Thrust into the spotlight midseason as defensive coordinator, he had an opportunity to continue to build on an already strong reputation. Instead, he’s directed a defense that has completely collapsed in the last five games.

“It’s depressing,” he said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the team. We’re just trying to win ballgames. And for that not to happen and [for] us to lose as many games as we did in a row, that’s inexcusable. It’s unacceptable. It’s disheartening. And I feel like everybody else feels. It’s a messed-up situation.”

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bryce Brown Gets His Chance

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownLeSean McCoy doesn’t like to take a breather.

He’s played 610 snaps on the season, the most of any running back in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. McCoy led the league in playing time last year as well.

But on Monday night, the Eagles will see what life’s like without McCoy, as the running back continues to recover from a concussion he sustained during the final two minutes of last week’s loss to the Redskins. McCoy just turned 24 in July. He’ll continue to carry the load for years to come. But it’s still important for the Eagles to find the right back to complement his talents.

Enter Bryce Brown.

The seventh-round pick will get a chance to be the No. 1 guy against the Panthers. The last time Brown carried the ball 10 times in a game was 2009 with Tennessee. The last time he carried it 15 times was high school.

“You just watch him and talk to him on the sideline and make sure he’s doing alright,” Andy Reid said Friday. “I know Dion [Lewis] can step in and play, so there’s a time and a place where we’ll do that with him.”

Finding the right complement to McCoy has not been easy. In 2010, Mike Bell turned out to be a flop. Jerome Harrison was a nice fit, but he left for Detroit in the offseason. The Eagles tried to re-acquire him last year, but Harrison was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The Ronnie Brown experiment was a failure in 2011. And the Eagles spent a fifth-round pick on Dion Lewis, but he’s had pretty much no role on offense since entering the league.

Bryce Brown appears to be in position to fill the role nicely. At 6 feet, 223 pounds, he could offer a nice change of pace to McCoy. Brown has 32 carries for 141 yards (4.4 YPC) on the season. In the last three games, he’s carried 12 times for 85 yards (7.1 YPC). We don’t know what he’s capable as a receiver, but Brown’s made strides in pass protection.

While Brown’s primary role has been to spell McCoy for one or two snaps at a time, Monday presents a chance to show he’s capable of more. For some, the matchup with the Panthers has little meaning. For Brown, it’s another important step in carving out his spot in the league.

WHAT YOU MISSED

With Michael Vick progressing in his recovery, Reid and the Eagles will soon have to decide how to proceed at quarterback. T-Mac explains right here.

Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder used the words “fuzzy” and “fatigued” to describe McCoy.

Weeks after firing him as defensive coordinator, Reid touted Juan Castillo as a potential college head coach.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter takes a look at Reid’s decision to go from Castillo to Todd Bowles:

Maybe the Eagles needed former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo more than they realized. With Castillo as their defensive coordinator in the first six games this season, the Eagles ranked among the three best teams in the league in terms of opponent completion percentage, yards per attempt and Total QBR. But since they fired Castillo on Oct. 16, the Eagles rank last in the NFL in all three of those categories as they head into Monday night’s game versus Carolina.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera expects Monday night to be special for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. From Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer:

The Eagles-Panthers matchup on “Monday Night Football” might not move the meter in middle America. But it’s a special game for McDermott, whether he admits it or not.

“He hasn’t let anybody see it,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “(But) this is a chance for him to show what he’s capable of.”

In other words, to show Eagles coach Andy Reid he let the wrong guy go.

COMING UP

A Sunday without an Eagles game. But we’ll have some fresh content throughout the day.

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Nnamdi: ‘This Is the Place I Want To Be’

Nnamdi Asomugha had a candid session with reporters Friday, discussing the disappointing start to his time in Philadelphia and the possibility that it could be cut short.

Though things have gone different than anticipated, the much-hyped cornerback says he is not planning his exit strategy out of Philadelphia.

“I definitely feel that I have assimilated into it and acclimated into it and all of that stuff,” said Asomugha. “I have gotten the question throughout this year a couple times: did I make the right decision [coming here], should I have gone [somewhere else]? And that doesn’t cross my mind at all. It’s always, yes, this is the place I want to be.

“I absolutely believe in the decision I have made and believe in this team.”

When the Eagles signed Asomugha to a five-year, $60 million deal prior to the 2011 campaign, he was heralded as one of the top cover men in the game. He has fallen well short of that billing. It has not gone the way anybody envisioned, including Asomugha himself.

“Not even close. Not even close,” Asomugha admitted. “When I came I didn’t know anybody but everybody was on the same page that we were going to get it done the first year out of there. Then we saw that we had to jell. Then we started to jell. It looked like  at the beginning of the season things were on a roll, then we started losing and the momentum went the other way for us. So it just hasn’t gone well.

“I’m mentally strong because I haven’t had the success in the league that I’ve wanted since I was a rookie, but mentally I’ve been able to deal with that and know or believe that at sometime it will turn around.”

Asked specifically why he hasn’t been able to play at the high level everyone expected, Asomugha declined to answer in fear that it would sound like an excuse. There has been a decent amount of excuse-making over the past two seasons from this club, and Asomugha has been part of that. Whether intended or not, some of his postgame explanations as to why things went wrong often came across as finger-pointing, sometimes in the direction of former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

But on Friday Asomugha took some ownership, and said he understands why some of the fan base is  upset with him.

“As a fan I can look back to teams that I like and a player that I’ve liked  comes in and expecting it to just change, and it not working out and being upset about that,” he said. “I can’t now be that guy and look at them and say, ‘You can’t be upset that we haven’t won and I haven’t been Superman on the field’ even though that’s what has been expected of me.”

Opposing quarterbacks have a sterling 110.4 quarterback rating when throwing in Asomugha’s direction this season, per Pro Football Focus. The 31-year-old has just one interception on the season. He is due a base salary of $15 million next season, only $4 million of which is guaranteed. Asomugha says that he has not allowed himself to play the what-if game in terms of his future, but said, ”I want to be around for this turnaround that I know is going to happen.”

He will have to be amenable to a sizable pay cut in all likelihood if that is to occur.

“Obviously it hasn’t been as good as I wanted it to be,” said Asomugha. “As far as team and individually, my expectations were so high. And then things just kind of hit really quickly, and it was like, team wise and player-wise it was kind of like playing catch-up trying to get it back on the right foot. That part of it has been difficult, but I keep that faith and believe that the thing will turn.”

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Bowles: Players Are In the Right Positions

Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Todd Bowles.Through six games, the Eagles’ pass defense looked like a much-improved unit from the one that took the field in 2011.

That’s why when Andy Reid decided to fire Juan Castillo and promote Todd Bowles, it made sense on some levels. Bowles, after all, was the man in charge of the secondary. At the time, the Eagles led the league in opponents’ completion percentage (52.7) and were tied for the second-best mark in yards per attempt (6.2).

Results have not been so good in the last two games, as the Eagles have allowed five touchdowns and come up with no interceptions. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees did whatever they wanted, completing a staggering 76.8 of their passes while averaging 8.9 yards per attempt. So what’s been the problem?

“In this last ballgame, we’ve got to make plays,” Bowles said. “We’re in position. Pass coverage involves linebackers and sometimes D-linemen [not just the secondary]. We’ve got to make plays. Each individual guy, we’ve got to step up and make plays. That’s all this game is about.”

While Bowles and some players are reluctant to admit it, part of the problem has been adjusting to a new coordinator halfway through the season. The explanations in the locker room are that much of the defense is unchanged, but of course, Bowles is adding his own wrinkles, some of which Tim broke down in an earlier post.

“We’ve been in a lot of positions to make plays and just haven’t been able to,” said safety Kurt Coleman. “We’ve also changed up a lot of our defense a little bit so we’re still trying to get acclimated as far as knowing everything – right gaps, right people to execute – so we’re still getting acclimated to that. When it comes down to it, the players have to play better. We have to play better.”

What, specifically, has changed?

“We’re making a lot more different calls,” Coleman said. “There are a variety of things, and we haven’t had as much practice as we used to have. We’re just getting our bearings around everything, getting used to it, and I think everyone’s going to be able to fly around and play better.”

One criticism of Castillo was that he was too predictable, so it makes sense that Bowles would be trying to add a level of complexity to the defense. And while it is easy to blame the defensive coordinator, the truth is there’s quite a bit of evidence to back what he and the players are saying. A few examples from last week:

  • A first-quarter blitz where Trent Cole was left unblocked but got juked by Brees. The Eagles went from a potential sack to allowing a 38-yard completion.
  • Nnamdi Asomugha missing a tackle, allowing what should have been a 9-yard run to turn into a 23-yard gain.
  • David Sims missing a tackle near the line of scrimmage and the Eagles allowing a 7-yard run.

Blown assignments were an issue against the Falcons. Last week, it seemed to be players just failing to execute when given the opportunity. A couple fundamental issues that are hurting the defense have been poor tackling and a failure to get off blocks (detailed in the All-22 breakdown).

“There are players that are going to miss tackles that are good tacklers, and then there are some players that just aren’t good tacklers, and you can fix that with fundamentals,” Bowles said. “You can fix that with attitude. Attitude’s the main thing.”

The truth is, players like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha were poor tacklers before they got to the Eagles and continue to be poor tacklers.

When asked if it was possible to fix tackling, given the Eagles’ in-season practice schedule, Bowles said he believed it was.

“Attitude should be the same all the time,” Bowles said. “You can have the right drive and mindset and miss a tackle, but you’ve got to have body control. You’ve got to have fundamentals. You’ve got to be able to tackle.”

Given that the Eagles have lost four in a row and stand at 3-5 at the halfway point, the margin of error has grown increasingly slim.

“We can’t have the same mistakes creep up every week, and we’ve got to rectify that,” Bowles said. “From that part, it’s a little disappointing, but we’ve got the guys in this room that can turn it around.”

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Difference Under Bowles

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).

COMING UP

Maybe it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s Cowboys week. Practice at 1:50. Bobby April, Marty Mornhinweg and Todd Bowles speak.

Anonymous Eagles Player: ‘No Energy, No Passion’

Plenty of Eagles players went on the record after Sunday’s game, voicing their frustration and displeasure with the team’s performance against the Falcons.

Tim included thoughts from LeSean McCoy and Cullen Jenkins in the Wake-Up Call (definitely worth a read). And Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie voiced their opinions as well.

But one defensive player chose to speak anonymously to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports:

“We didn’t have no passion and you have to have passion in this game,” the player said. “You have to want to throw everything you are out on that field on every play. You have to feel like you’re playing with your teammates and for the fans and your coaches. Nothing, nada. No energy, no passion.”

He continued:

“The media was getting on [Castillo] because he didn’t make adjustments in the fourth quarter, but what’s the difference now? We can’t stop them in the first quarter.”

Again, it’s not so much what the player said, although clearly he’s frustrated with the guys he’s playing with. But it’s just another sign that the season is falling apart and the team is fractured.

Seven games in, it’s tough to see it any other way.

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Bowles Weighs In On Pass-Rush, Predictability

Todd Bowles wants to free up the Eagles’ pass-rushers, but he’s not overly concerned that the team has zero sacks in the last three games.

“They’re rushing the passer very well,” Bowles said. “There are times when there’s max protection. There are times when the ball comes out. But it all ties in. You can say you want to get the guys rushing better and doing things more, but if they’re running it down our throat, it’ll be hard. So you’ve got to kind of go off what you see off film and kind of pick your spots and time it out and see how it works.”

The theme is consistent with what Bowles said the day he was introduced as the Eagles’ new defensive coordinator last week. He’s not going to come up with a singular game-plan. He plans on adjusting to the opponent and the situation. Bowles sees opposing quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quickly against the Eagles, and he sees them keeping extra blockers in to help. But guess what? Those are not innovative wrinkles that have just been added to the game of football.

“It’s not a new thing,” Bowles said. “I don’t think you can go through any ballgame, and see where they’re not seven-man protecting, or three-stepping and everything else. It all ties in. We have to time it out right. We have to get them in position to rush the passer and we have to do all those things. It’s not like it’s just the Philadelphia Eagles they’re picking on.”

He was also asked several times about being “unpredictable.” Since Juan Castillo was fired, several players have said that has been Bowles’ message to the defense. But today, Bowles wanted to clarify what he meant.

“In your bye week, you get to self-scout a lot,” he said. “And you get to see a lot of things that you’re doing wrong and right. You try to fix the things you’re doing wrong. I don’t think it was more or less us being unpredictable. It was just more or less us correcting the things that we need to correct that people are taking advantage of.

“We lost because we lost and didn’t make enough plays to win the game. It’s not because we’re being predictable or being unpredictable.”

Bowles played eight years in the NFL, and he knows at some point, there’s only so much the coaches can do. But he also knows that the players need to be in a position to maximize their potential – specifially late in games where the Eagles have had so many meltdowns in the last two seasons. That’s precisely why Andy Reid decided to promote Bowles and get rid of Castillo.

“We just have to have a better understanding and a better urgency to finish games,” Bowles said. “We’ve got to make sure we have coaching-wise that ability to make the calls to win the game. They they have to go out and execute it.”

As for where he’ll physically be on Sunday, Bowles said he hasn’t decided yet whether it’ll be the sideline or the booth.

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DRC Takes Up For Castillo

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.Several players this week have suggested that Juan Castillo‘s defense was predictable, and therefor vulnerable in the fourth quarter when the opposition deciphered what was coming.

Though it may have some truth to it and even come from a good place, it sure can  sound like blame-shifting after a while. As in, Juan was the issue and the issue is gone, so we can now realize our potential with Todd Bowles at the helm.

Not everybody is on board with the notion that Castillo was a hindrance, or buying into the “predictability” line of defense when rationalizing back-to-back fourth-quarter lapses.

“Of course that’s what you’re going to say, man, when things start to go bad. You’re going to pinpoint something,” said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “I don’t feel that way. If you look at the statistics, shoot, we’re still in the top of the running. That was a decision that was made and I can’t do nothing about it, but I didn’t see no problems.”

As for pointing blame in Castillo’s direction?

“I feel like every man should be accountable for themselves,” said Rodgers-Cromartie. “I learned in life that anytime things go wrong it’s easy to say, ‘He did this. He did that,’ instead of saying, “I did this. I did that.’”

Most of the players have had fond words regarding Juan Castillo the man, but few have stood up for him as a coach quite like DRC did on Thursday. Rodgers-Cromartie revealed that it was Castillo that transformed him into a press corner, working overtime with him to make sure the 26-year-old went through the change as smoothly as possible.

“No question. He changed my game. He turned me into a press corner,” said Rodgers-Cromartie. “He’s one of the guys that took the time with you, to make you understand the weakness in your game and keep you after practice and make you work on it. This is the NFL, you’re accountable for yourself. Not too many people are going to say, ‘Hey, you need to do this and make sure you do it.’  They tend to let you do it on your own.”

Rodgers-Cromartie is having a Pro-Bowl season. He has three interceptions and five passes defensed through six games. Opposing quarterbacks have a collective quarterback rating of 28.7 when throwing in his direction according to Pro Football Focus, good for second in the entire NFL.

The message about predictability is coming directly from Bowles, according to a couple of the players. The new defensive coordinator was asked about it on Thursday.

“I don’t think it’s excuse-making on my part. I think predictability comes from self-scouting,” said Bowles. “Every coach in the league when they self-scout on the bye week sees a lot of predictable things that are glaring to them that they try to fix. I think the miscommunication was in that part. It’s definitely not an excuse. The guys play hard and we lost because we lost and because we didn’t make enough plays to win the game. It’s not because we were being predictable or unpredictable.”

If that was the point Bowles was making, it may have been lost on a few of his new pupils.

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