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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.”
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.
There remains a sense that this defense will not be overhauled now that Todd Bowles has replaced Juan Castillo, but there will definitely be some differences. Jamar Chaney echoed what Casey Matthews said a couple days ago: that Bowles believes this ‘D’ had become far too predictable. Expect some more exotic looks and yes, some more blitzing.
“He is going to bring it all,” said Chaney.
But this week, his first as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Bowles’ will likely spend some time trying to figure out a way to get the pass-rushers free. That’s going to be a key in the final 10 games. The secondary has played well, and while the defensive line has certainly affected games (everything’s connected, after all), Jim Washburn’s group has not been the dominant presence many were expecting when the season started.
So what’s the answer to jump-starting the pass-rush? During an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic, defensive end Jason Babin was asked if more blitzing could be a possible solution.
There were varying degrees of willingness to talk about the Todd Bowles/Juan Castillo shake-up in the Eagles’ locker room Monday. Jason Babin, for example, has never been more skittish about a subject in his two years in Philadelphia. Others forced you to read between the lines.
There were a few revealing moments, however.
The biggest one came from backup linebacker Casey Matthews, who relayed Bowles’ message to the defense upon taking the reins.
“The biggest thing he said is, ‘We’re not going to predictable anymore.’ That’s what Coach said,” Matthews revealed, the obvious implication being that the ‘D’ was predictable under Castillo.
The Birds had shut down Calvin Johnson and the Detroit offense for three quarters, but collapsed in the fourth quarter and overtime of a 26-23 loss. Asomugha seemed to question Juan Castillo and some of the calls that were made at the end of the game. But today, he said that wasn’t his intention.
“I had a tough time last week when those stories came out, to be honest,” Asomugha said. “It was moreso a character thing. And it’s something that I would never do as a player. And I think you guys will start to know that a little bit more as we continue to get to know each other. There’s no underlying of ‘This was said, but it might have meant this.’ I wouldn’t do that to a coach and especially Juan. Just because as far as a player-coach relationship, we had been so communicative. It wasn’t a good feeling. But after speaking to him and him knowing that wasn’t the case, I think it made it a lot better. I don’t think that had anything to do with him being let go.”
When asked last week why the Eagles’ defense has been unable to come up with more sacks, Todd Bowles pointed to four specific things.
“Part of the time, the ball is coming out quick,” he said. “Part of the time they’re max protecting. Part of the time we have to beat one-on-ones. Part of the time, coaching-wise, we have to scheme it better and help those guys get free.”
Today, let’s take a look at those four things individually.
The link between Todd Bowles and Bill Parcells goes back to the defensive coordinator’s playing days.
While Parcells was making a name for himself as the head coach of the New York Giants, he faced Bowles, a safety out of Temple, twice a year.
“I noticed that he was making their secondary calls and adjustments and and all those things as far back as those days,” Parcells said during an interview with Jon Marks and Brian Baldinger on 97.5 The Fanatic.
Ten games, 60 minutes of game clock a pop. In that time he has to prove to owner Jeffrey Lurie that “substantial improvement” has been made, and that he at the very least has his first Lombardi surrounded. At the current rate, the 2012 club will end just like last year’s bunch did — at .500. Lurie has already deemed that outcome unacceptable. A playoff appearance — and maybe a playoff run — seem necessary to re-establish job security. The Eagles will have to go 7-3 the rest of the way to put themselves in proper position for a playoff berth.
That is the reality Reid is operating in. It is a driving force behind his intensive bye week evaluation, one that has already resulted in the firing of longtime friend Juan Castillo in favor of Todd Bowles.
When asked what the Eagles’ defense needs to focus on going forward, new coordinator Todd Bowles did not hesitate.
“We’ve got to finish at the end of the games,” he said. “We’ve got to finish and win games. The bottom line is, when you’re out there on defense, it doesn’t matter what happens when you’re out there at the end of the game, you’ve got to finish.”
Before today, Todd Bowles was in charge of the Eagles’ secondary. Now, his job is to come up with a game-plan for the entire defense.
That includes finding a way to improve a pass-rush that has gone without a sack the last three games.