We don't yet know how much Todd Bowles plans to tweak the defense. Do you expect a radically different approach to the defense? I don't. I think, instead, that Bowles is going to add his personality, is going to show some aggressiveness and is going to hopefully present a variety of looks from game to game.
The expectation here, too, is that he's going to ask his players to expand their roles. A great coordinator makes the most of each player's talents and, with that, gives each player an opportunity to shine.
So who benefits from Bowles being in charge? Which players does he lean on and ask more from after observing them for six games? Here are some ideas ...
MYCHAL KENDRICKS, linebacker
The second-round draft pick has come a long way in a short period of time, and
Kendricks has done a good job against tight ends and he has to match athletic ability with Gonzalez, who obviously has a huge advantage in experience. Beyond that very tough matchup, Kendricks has a chance to expand his role with some blitz chances -- which he showed in training camp that he could do successfully -- and some other "downhill" opportunities within the defense.
Look for Kendricks' role to expand in the weeks to come. It will be interesting to see what Bowles does with the promising rookie.
PHILLIP HUNT, defensive end
A sensation in training camp and in the preseason,
Hunt isn't going to push for a starting role, but it makes sense that he gets some more snaps. It may be more of a Jim Washburn decision than a Todd Bowles call, but the Eagles need to give everyone a shot in order to have more pass-rush pressure.
The team has not had a sack in three straight games. That is a difficult fact to digest. The Eagles need to put some heat on Ryan on Sunday, no matter who it comes from.
NATE ALLEN, safety
You can see the improvement in
He's shown he is aggressive and a sure tackler in the screen game, and while we haven't seen a lot of Allen blitzing, he can probably show enough to at least become an option.
The Eagles have gotten good play from both Allen and
FLETCHER COX, defensive tackle
The Eagles rave about the play of their first-round draft pick, and
Now it's time for Cox to make some plays behind the line of scrimmage.
How Bowles and Washburn use Cox remains to be seen. Do they see him as a more penetrating tackle, or do they want to have Cox occupy two blockers and allow the linebackers to knife in and make plays?
Cox is physical, he's got a good grasp on what Washburn wants him to do and he has a chance to wreak some havoc inside. The Eagles need him to do so, especially against Ryan, whom the Eagles must squeeze in order to slow him down.
NNAMDI ASOMUGHA, cornerback
For much of three quarters against Detroit, the Eagles used
Asomugha provides the kind of physical, intelligent versatility to feature in the defense. He can stay outside and play press coverage and he can go into the slot and match up against receivers and tight ends. I don't see Asomugha blitzing much, but he can be a go-get-him cornerback here.
It's going to be very interesting to see what the Eagles do when Roddy White moves into the slot on Sunday. Do the Eagles leave rookie
The Eagles must maximize Asomugha, who has many strengths and some obvious weaknesses. It's important that Bowles emphasizes the former, and stays away from the latter. That's the challenge throughout the defense, and in some cases it's more imperative than in others.