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Bowles Offers His State Of The Secondary

Posted Feb 9, 2012

New secondary coach Todd Bowles played his college football at Temple and as a veteran of eight seasons in the NFL as a defensive back with Washington and San Francisco, he epitomized the type of football player that the City of Philadelphia embraces.

"I thought I was a tough player, hard player," Bowles told Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro in a one-on-one interview on Thursday. "I made the most of my chances and of my ability."

A member of the Super Bowl XXII championship Redskins team, Bowles dismisses the notion that he was an underdog always believing that he was "a good football player."

Now, he's a good football coach. Bowles' coach at Temple was Bruce Arians, who was the Steelers offensive coordinator for five seasons before recently taking the same post with the Colts. Arians always expected to see Bowles join the coaching ranks, even if Bowles didn't see it himself.

After beginning his post-playing career as a player personnel assistant with Green Bay, Bowles coached in the college ranks before becoming the defensive backs coach with the Jets in 2000. Bowles also coached in Cleveland and Dallas before joining the Miami Dolphins' staff in 2008 as their assistant head coach/secondary. Bowles was in fact named the interim head coach of the Dolphins for the final three games of the 2011 season after Tony Sparano was dismissed. Bowles guided the Dolphins to a 2-1 record and after the season interviewed for the head coach position in Miami and Oakland before joining the Eagles on January 30.

Bowles inherits a talented secondary that includes three Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel. At safety, the Eagles have a young contingent that includes a pair of recent second-round picks in Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett as well as starting strong safety Kurt Coleman.

It's not the first time that Bowles has had a bevy of talent at his disposal. He recalled when he arrived in Dallas as their secondary coach in 2005 and had cornerbacks Terence Newman and Anthony Henry and safety Roy Williams. Bowles isn't concerned about the players' lofty resumes or previous accolades. He knows that every player needs improvement somewhere and that's what he hopes to provide.

"These guys have the names, but the play you have to do on the field. It comes from hard work every day," Bowles said. "You don't worry about Pro Bowls. You just try to get better every day."

With just over a week with the team, Bowles is still getting familiar with the terminology and the overall scheme. He praised defensive coordinator Juan Castillo for his work in his first year noticing on film the effort put forth by the defense.

"Everyone's flying to the ball which you rarely see around the league," Bowles said. "That gives you a chance to win."

How will the three cornerbacks be used? Bowles acknowledged that no player can just play man or just play zone. Bowles said that Asomugha "excels" in both man and zone coverage and that he's an intelligent player.

Samuel, who is fourth among all active players with 45 career interceptions, is a "helluva" player to Bowles.

"The guy's done it for a long time. He's got the statistics to prove it. He's a ballhawk. That's what he does," Bowles said. "He can see the game very well from all angles. He needs to mix it up a little bit. We'll go over that as we get into things more."

When Rodgers-Cromartie entered the draft in 2008, Bowles worked him out and is still amazed to this day by his athleticism.

"He's probably one of the best five athletes at that position right now when you're talking speed, hip turns and all of those things," Bowles said.

At safety, Bowles preached patience. The aforementioned safeties have a combined five years of NFL experience between them. Bowles explained that with all of the responsibilities that a safety has it takes longer to develop at that position.

"Corners play man-to-man and zone coverage on the outside pretty much their whole career," Bowles said. "At safety, depending on the scheme you get into, you've got to learn a few things."

That being said, Bowles likes what he's seen so far from the Eagles safeties.

"They're athletic. They're bright," he said. "They're smart and they're eager, so they've got a chance."

Twenty-seven years after finishing his college career at Temple, Bowles is back in Philadelphia to cultivate and develop the talent at secondary for the Eagles. This will be his 13th year as a coach in the NFL. The Eagles hope it's a lucky one as the team strives to obtain what Bowles was able to during his playing career - a Super Bowl crown.

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