“The scheme is not going to change,”Andy Reid said. “The terminology isn’t going to change. But how we work within that is how you do that.”
We’ll hear from Bowles later today, but it sounds like the Eagles will tweak the system that’s currently in place. And that makes sense, given that we’re six games in, and the defense has played really well in stretches. Considering Bowles has coached the secondary all season, I wouldn’t expect many changes there. The Eagles are limiting opposing quarterbacks to the lowest completion percentage (52.7) and second-lowest yards per attempt (6.2) in the NFL.
The front four, however, could be a different story. Jim Washburn’s group has gone without a sack in three straight games.
Jamar Chaney said the news trickled in through the media. Since it’s the bye week, there was no phone call placed or text sent from the team brass. Just a headline on SportsCenter announcing that Juan Castillo had been fired as defensive coordinator and had been replaced by Todd Bowles.
“I was shocked,” said Chaney. “Our defense was playing better than it was last year.
“We had some really good games – against the Browns, the Ravens and Giants. The Ravens and Giant are considered some of the best teams in the league.”
Owner Jeffrey Lurie put a number on it during his preseason address, confirming that another 8-8 year would not be enough for the head coach to stay.
That means the Eagles need to go at least 6-4 (possibly 7-3) for Reid to stay put.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Reid is overly concerned with his job security. If Lurie does let him go, he’ll find a job elsewhere. But yesterday’s comments made Reid sound very much like a guy who is willing to do something drastic during the bye week to get his team on track.
While many of the Eagles defenders said after the game that they’d have to look at the film to figure out what exactly went wrong, Nnamdi Asomugha was more forthcoming. He told Tim and some other reporters that a couple things changed.
One, the defense switched up how it covered Calvin Johnson. For much of the game, Asomugha was on Johnson with safety help. And he did an excellent job. But in the fourth, the Eagles used Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Johnson and also played some zone.
The other point Asomugha made was that the Eagles blitzed more late in the game, and it cost them. But was that really the case?
The intention of the players surveyed, of course, is to heap praise on their new secondary coach. It is plain to see that Bowles has made believers out of the Eagles defensive backs in short order.
“His knowledge of the game is by far the best that I have been around as far as the back end, and I’ve had some pretty good coaches,” said Brandon Hughes.
But since an NCAA rule prohibited Harris (Oregon) from participating in spring practices, he’s still playing catch-up.
“Cliff is a competitor,” defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said today. “He is still learning our system. The hard thing is that when you miss those OTAs, it’s hard, so he is just trying to get a complete understanding [of the defense]. In the classroom, he understands the scheme, but when it is going fast, I think that is the part in time he will get better and better at.”
Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles sat just a few feet from one another under the field-side tent Tuesday, one entertaining questions about the other during a media session with reporters.
It is easy to paint a picture where Bowles’ shadow creeps into Castillo’s personal space. He is the rising star, after all, the man coming off several head coaching interviews after taking over the Dolphins down the stretch of the 2011 season. The Temple alum was a defensive back in the NFL for eight seasons, and has been coaching that side of the ball in the bigs since 2000. You get the sense that it is about his time.
We all know Castillo’s story and the tale of the lost season, where the defense had to put together a late push just to finish 29th in red zone success. There was a whole lot of learning on the job, and it cost them. Things improved down the stretch and the defense vaulted to eighth overall statistically. But if this team stumbles out of the gate, won’t this fan base be calling immediately for a changing of the guard?