After two straight losses with the defense giving up the lead in the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia Eagles and Andy Reid decided to end the Juan Castillo defensive coordinator experiment for good. In a somewhat surprising decision to start last season, Reid not only moved the 13 year offensive line coach to the defensive side of the ball but him in charge of it. The results can best be described as "mediocre" with the Eagles going 11-11 over his 22 games in charge of the defense with the team ranking 15th in both passing and rushing yards allowed this season. But mediocre is not nearly good enough for a team with as much talent and expectations as the Philadelphia Eagles and in the end it was ultimately Reid's decision to make the firing. With a bye this week and the extra time to prepare Reid had no better time to bring in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
So who is Todd Bowles? As a player Bowles graduated from Temple University in 1985 where he was a starter at safety. He was not selected in the 1986 NFL draft but was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins that same year. Bowles started only 2 games his first year but went on to start as free safety in 60 games for the Redskins over the next 4 years including winning a ring in Superbowl XXII against the Denver Broncos in 1988. Bowles then spent one year in San Francisco in 1990 before returing to Washington and finishing his 8 year career in 1993.
Bowles did not wait long to start his career on the sidelines becoming a member of the Packers player personal in 1995 and moving to his first real coaching job as defensive coordinator for Morehouse College in 1997. He broke back into the NFL as the defensive backs coach for the Jets in 2001 before moving on to the Browns and then the Cowboys at the same position. He was promoted up to an assistant coaching position with the Dolphins in 2008 through last season where for the first time he took over a coaching position midseason, replacing head coach Tony Sparano. Miami went 2-1 with Bowles in charge. He landed back into a defensive backs coaching position for the Eagles to start this year and will have a huge opportunity to prove himself over the Eagles remaining 10 games.
Reid's decision to go with Todd Bowles is a much more conventional choice than when he promoted Castillo before the start of last year. Bowles has worked exclusively with defenses and his expertise in defensive backs should allow him to get the most out of Veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as well as to develop younger players like Nate Allen and Curtis Marsh. But the real challenge for Bowles will be to shore up the defensive unit in the fourth quarter. The Eagles' defense has given up 49 fourth quarter points this season, significantly more than any other quarter. The defense has shown it can play stingy early but it is the lack of consistency late in games that has caused the team the most problems. Bowles has stated he does not plan to make huge changes to the scheme and it will be his ability to make in game adjustments and handle the pressure as a first time defensive coordinator that will decide much of the future for the team. Bowles has only two weeks to insert himself as the leader of the defense before the Eagles line up against one of the most explosive offensives in football, playing away at the Falcons in week 8.
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