Todd Bowles has addressed the entire defense before during meetings, but on Monday he did so for the first time as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.
"It was good. He didn't switch too much up or anything like that. He's a real cool coach. He's a cool guy. He's real down to earth," said defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who practiced for the first time in 2012 on Monday. "Not only that, he played the game. He knows how it is, how the game is and it's going to be really exciting to see what he does for us and see what's going to happen."
Bowles was promoted from his role as secondary coach last Tuesday as the Eagles dismissed Juan Castillo. Bowles is in his 13th NFL season as an assistant coach. Last season, he was the assistant head coach/secondary coach in Miami before being named the interim head coach for the final three games of the season, winning two of those contests.
Bowles has to maximize the talent of a defense that ranks 11th in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed this season. The Eagles do have a foundation to build from. They are third in the league in red zone defense and fourth in third-down defense. However, the Eagles have had no sacks in the past three games and are tied for 22nd in takeaways with eight for the season.
"We all feel like we're a really good defense and that we've played well. There were moments where we didn't play well, but I think the bottom line is winning games," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "If we win games, none of this is talked about. It might be talked about still, but it's not going to get to the level that it got to. We played well enough to win some of those games. It's pulling it out at the end."
The defense has closed out games this season, but in each of the past two games the Eagles led late in the fourth quarter before losing. In the Week 6 loss to the Lions, the Eagles led by 10 points in the fourth quarter before falling in overtime. Even though this is the first time Bowles will be calling the plays on defense in the NFL, the players believe Bowles' demeanor will serve him well.
"He's real chill. There's an equanimity about him. It doesn't matter what's going on. He's always going to be calm, relaxed. It's good. It feels like there's always a solution no matter what we're going through," said Asomugha, who "thinks" Bowles will coach from the sideline. "I think being able to stay calm in the fire and not get rattled and not lose yourself in that moment. Those are good qualities that are going to make him a good coordinator and have made him a successful coach to this point."
Free safety Kurt Coleman thinks that one area where Bowles will offer an improvement is in-game adjustments.
"He's a smart coach, he really is. He's going to do his due diligence and understand the game as far as the offense is going to attack us and you have to be able to adjust during the game," Coleman said. "I think he's going to do a great job with that."
And it's not just players in the secondary who are excited about Bowles taking over the defense.
"Everybody's excited for him," Patterson said. "We all know what he's capable of. We want to know what he can coach us and teach us. A coach that played in the league, you don't get that too often, so you have to take advantage of it."
Now that Bowles is in charge, what will he change about the defense? Coleman intimated that Bowles was making some of the play calls during the season.
"That's kind of up to him. He could change it all or he could just change it a little bit. It's all possibilities," Asomugha said. "I'm not sure exactly what he's going to implement and how he's going to do it."
If the Falcons didn't have enough to worry about gameplanning for the Eagles' defense, now there's the unpredictability that will come with Bowles calling the shots.
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