Linebacker Casey Matthews hinted at what he thought of Juan Castillo’s coaching when he summed up the first meeting of the Philadelphia Eagle defense in the Todd Bowles era on Monday: “We’re not going to be predictable anymore.”
Brandon Graham took those comments further on Wednesday by blaming Castillo for the Eagles defensive woes in the games of which he presided. Graham stated that the former DC’s inability to change his play calling in the fourth quarter was exactly the reason for the collapse the Birds experienced so many times in the last moments of games in 2011 and 2012.
Specifically, Graham stated
“I think we started running the same stuff over and over and not switching it up as much. A lot of time we ran the same coverage, stuff like that. I listen to the calls every play – ‘Coach, what do we have this play? What do we have this play,’ and it was always pretty much the same stuff.”
He’s got a point there.
Graham looks forward to predictability not be an issue that plagues the defense under Bowles.
“That’s what he talked about, not being predictable in the fourth quarter, because by the fourth quarter everybody knows what we’re going to do, and that’s how we get beat.
“I think Coach Bowles, it’s going to be fun to see what he’s going to be doing, because I think everything we run in practice we’re going to actually really run in the game.”
While Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons will provide our first glimpse of Bowles’ defense, the new coordinator has indicated that there will not be major changes to Philadelphia’s defense other than some increased use of the blitz where appropriate. Bowles clearly has the support and full confidence of his players on defense but most have been more restrained in their comments than Graham.
As one of the biggest storylines of the Eagles defense this season is a lack of pressure brought by the d-line, Graham is certainly hoping that the changing of the guard will present him with more opportunities to show what he can do. So far Graham has taken just 18.6% of defensive snaps this season. However, BG has made the most of his time on the field and applied constant pressure. In just 44 opportunities, he’s produced half-a-sack and 13 hurries.
The new leadership on defense has given players a renewed sense of excitement as well as urgency. This will provide a major boost to the defense and the team as a whole as they try to continue Andy Reid’s streak of perfection coming out of the bye Sunday at the Linc and try to extend their record to 4-3.