Todd Bowles Could Thrive As Defensive CoordinatorBREAKING NEWS, Coaching Staff, Eagles, News Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Unlike Castillo, Bowles brings a wealth of experience and success coaching defense in the NFL. He played in the NFL as a defensive back for eight seasons with the Washington Redskins, and while he was there he played for some great defensive minds, including defensive coordinators Richie Pettibone and Larry Peccatiello.
After his playing career he came back to the NFL in 2000 as a secondary coach with the New York Jets. He’s also spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins in the same role, giving him over a decade of defensive NFL coaching experience, as compared to the complete lack of experience that Castillo brought to the table when he was hired a year and a half ago.
Bowles is considered an up and coming defensive coach. When Bill Parcells left the Dallas Cowboys and joined the Miami Dolphins’ front office, one of the first guys he brought over when he was assembling his new coaching staff was Bowles.
In 2011, after Miami head coach Tony Sparano was fired, Bowles took over as the interim head coach. He coached the final three games of the season, and finished with a 2-1 record. He also interviewed for the job after the season, but the Dolphins wanted to go in a different direction. Many people around the league believe that Bowles is destined for a head coaching position someday.
I think there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic about what Bowles can do for this team as its defensive coordinator. Unlike Castillo, Bowles has true defensive instincts, and has a good feel for the game. He’ll know when to be aggressive, and he’ll won’t be completely overmatched by opposing offensive coordinators like Juan was.
The Eagles defensive players never completely trusted Castillo as defensive coordinator. They had trouble buying into his scheme, and some veterans (most recently Nnamdi Asomugha) openly questioned the defensive schemes. Bowles is a guy that these players can rally behind and have confidence in. If the defensive players can trust the calls being made by their coach on the sideline, they’ll execute with much more confidence, which could lead to some much more successful results on the field.
This Eagles defense has a lot of talent, but Castillo was never going to be the guy that could get the most out of them. Bowles has a chance to to get the most of this unit, and get them into top form.
We’ve already gotten a taste of what Bowles can do as a defensive coach this year. We’ve seen improvements from a number of players in the secondary this year. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looked lost in his first year with the team, but he’s been greatly improved in 2012. The Eagles made a mistake of trying to get him to play the slot in 2011, and the fact that he’s playing on the outside again helps him greatly, but we shouldn’t dismiss the impact that Bowles has had on him. He’s been the Eagles best cornerback this year, and he’s constantly in position to make plays.
Safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were a weakness a year ago, but both have shown good improvements under Bowles. Both of them are playing with much more confidence, and while they haven’t been perfect (there’s been several blown coverages and missed assignments from each of them) neither player has looked like a liability.
Now Bowles will have a chance to impact the rest of the defense like he has the safeties. He’ll work much more closely with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks, and he’ll find ways to get the most of an underachieving defensive line.
This is a good Eagles defense, but all along they’ve been missing a capable defensive coordinator that can put all of the pieces together and make this a defense that shuts the door on offenses in the fourth quarter instead of coughing up a lead. I think Bowles could very well be that guy, and I’m excited to see how the unit performs under his leadership.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter.
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