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Where's the D in Philly?

Some defensive questions after the Eagles fall to 1-4. Matt Bowen

Print This October 09, 2011, 05:15 PM EST

I will go deeper into Michael Vick and the Eagles’ offense tomorrow, but after seeing this Philly defense struggle (again) today vs. the Bills, here are some notes to check out.

Fred Jackson ICONJackson produced over 100-yards vs. this Eagles defense in the Bills' 31-24 win.

- Run defense. Gave up 143-total yards on the ground to the Bills—with 111 coming from Fred Jackson. They are soft in the interior of the defensive line, plus slow to read and react at the linebacker position. You are not going to win football games in this league when you can’t get off of blocks and limit the overall production in the run game.

- Tackling. Sounds too simple, right? All technique based when we talk defensive football, but look closer at this Eagles’ secondary. They don’t come to balance in the open field (or wrap up), take poor angles to the ball and can’t finish plays when the ball moves to the second level of the defense. From my perspective, this is a unit that plays out of control when they are asked to break down and get the ball carrier on the ground.

- Where are the big plays? One sack and one interception. This defense has enough talent at the CB position and speed off the edge to generate turnovers. However, again, we aren’t seeing Asomugha, Samuels, etc. step up, take the ball away and create field position.

- Can they make the proper adjustments? Personnel isn't going to change, so I have to look at the scheme and technique. What can defensive coordinator Juan Castillo do to increase production here? Scripting a new game plan is a start, but technique goes back to coaching. Plenty of work needed there for a team that is in serious trouble at 1-4.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41


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Oct 09, 2011
06:29 PM


this was the most frustrating game i've ever watched in my LIFE. you can't even make basic assumptions about the eagles anymore. on defense, there are things that are basic to pop warner football, let alone high school, college, or NFL, that they simply do not do.

- they never take outside-in angles when in containment. routine looking outside runs that you would think should be stopped for 1 or 2 yards turn into effortless 9yd gains.

- jarrad page, over the last 3 weeks has taken some of the worst angles i've ever seen from a safety.

- their corners seem more intent on not getting hit inadvertently on a gang tackle and so, kind of mill around an advancing runner and hope that the safety or LB can bring him down by themselves, which is usually not the case. (watch DRC or Samuel, in particular)

- they react to the most elementary routes and combos as if they've never seen them. Asante is playing 8yds off in the end zone with the ball on around the 4, and the first down at the 2. they cross the receivers, with the slot running an out and the outside receiver running a simple stick route or curl in. there is no other receiver to the side yet samuel never drives to challenge the inside route ( what does he think, he's playing deep half?).

- last week on one of the TE td's it was a simple 5 yd out by the TE, not so much as a jab step or head fake and jamar chaney looked as out of position and unprepared as if the guy had run some triple move with a pirouette for good measure.

i find myself cheering when guys make the most basic, elementary plays. its insane.

and despite the fact that we lead the league in sacks, and ALL of them are from the front four, we'll inexplicably blitz on occasion, isolating our already weak LBs and safeties in coverage, when they can't cover TEs and RBs with help.

oh. and apparently our CBs have no idea how to defend a quick slant.

guess that makes sense, because we never run them on offense.


Oct 09, 2011
10:21 PM

I lol @ 100% of the people who said Nnamdi was better than Revis when Nnamdi clearly played in a system that required him to do a lot less than the Jets asked of Revis.

Oct 09, 2011
11:04 PM

The Eagles' safety #41 is beat all of the time. He's horrible. I've seen flag football players take better angles.

Oct 10, 2011
08:53 AM


Firstly, your analysis of the little things that define success or failure at the NFL level has added a huge amount to my enjoyment of the game, cheers! Same to poettx for his stuff over at BGN.

To my question, in relation to the tackling, do you think the poor angles and technique are a product of the players not reading what's in front of them, and reacting late, so as a result they get to the point of attack a second late and don't get good body position, or is it just flat out a lack of body control and athleticism?

If the former, can you suggest any scheme fixes to make it easier on the LB and secondary? How would you approach playing behind the wide 9 versus the two gap system the Eagles had last year?

Oct 10, 2011
12:23 PM

The interior of the Eagles D - tackles, LBs - has to be the softest in the entire league.

Oct 10, 2011
01:42 PM

I've caught a couple games and the problems seem many on defense, but they were the one's many predicted before the season.

Lbers just are way too green and just not good enough. Safeties aren't very good either.

Castillo has no business being a d-coordinator. His game plan is almost akin to prevent defense. He seems to look to neutralize opponents. He just doesn't see the difference between that and say, Capers or Labeau. The former attack offenses and create mismatches with their best players.

Then there's the 800 lb gorilla. Vince Lombardi once said, 'leaders aren't born, they're made'. Aso was never a leader. Jenkins, never a leader. Who are the leaders...

Maybe, given a year Aso can rise to that, Woodson wasn't a leader initially in GB. But in FA there are few instances where teams are able to buy that right away. This just needs to be developed.

If Castillo is demoted and say Philly goes out and gets Perry or Trogvac from GB, I'd say watch out next year.

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