Tuesday morning Todd Bowles walked through the doors of the NovaCare Complex, just as he's done since January. But when he leaves Tuesday night he will do so as the Eagles' new defensive coordinator. It's been a whirlwind year for Bowles, who was promoted after Juan Castillo was relieved of the position Tuesday morning.
This time last season, Bowles was a member of the Miami Dolphins' coaching staff, the assistant head coach as well as the secondary coach. After the Dolphins fired Tony Sparano following a 26-10 loss to the Eagles, Bowles was named head coach for the last three games of the season. The players rallied around Bowles, going 2-1 to finish out the year.
After missing out on the opportunity to remain the head coach, Bowles took a job coaching the Eagles' secondary. And 10 months later he finds himself again being promoted mid-season. Bowles said he has learned a great deal from both experiences.
"Last year probably was the biggest shock," he said during his introductory press conference Tuesday, "So, coming into this year – it's a similar situation as far as it happening in-season – it kind of prepares you not to get too high or too low, to just be professional and do your job. And then if something happens, you're ready to do everything else also."
Bowles takes over a talented defense with plenty of room for improvement. The defense hasn't registered a sack in three weeks and failed to hold a 10-point lead with five minutes to go against the Lions on Sunday. But in Bowles the defense now has a leader who not only has extensive defensive coaching experience, but significant playing experience as well.
Bowles attended and played at nearby Temple University and was in the NFL for eight seasons, playing for the Redskins and 49ers. He believes that experience helps him connect with his players.
"Being a player you can put yourself in the same situations because you've been in them," Bowles explained, "So when a guy is coming to you with problems, you can refer back to your playing days. You don't have to agree with them. You say, 'This is why you're doing this, so this is why they're doing this to you.' It just helps the relationship go a lot better."
Bowles came to Philadelphia with a reputation for being a coach players wanted to do well for. So far this has been true in the secondary, and all indications are that his coaching style will resonate with the other players on defense. After all, he said, they've been working together all season.
"We all know each other because part of the game plan is we have specific parts that we break down," Bowles said, "They'll see me, they'll see (linebackers coach Mike Caldwell), they'll see (defensive line coach Jim Washburn), they'll see (safeties coach Mike Zordich), so we all have our days where we are running the meeting room. As much time as we're around each other, we've gotten to know each other pretty well."
One of the hallmarks of Andy Reid's 13-year tenure as head coach has been consistency. So while this move is a departure from the norm, it should be as seamless a transition as there could be. Bowles has the bye week to adjust, and his personality and coaching style should help him connect with the defense right away.
"They're hearing the same message from a different person," Bowles said. "I might have a different spin on it and my own ideas here or there and a few tweaks that they go through. They'll understand exactly where we, as a coaching staff, are coming from, and understanding exactly what the game plan is as they have been."
When the players return from the bye week, a familiar face will be gone. But the message and the goals remain the same. No one in the organization is happy about a 3-3 start, but every indication is that Bowles should provide a spark to help ignite the defense for the remaining 10 games of the season — and beyond.
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