After debut to forget, new Eagles defensive coordinator set for Saints, second chance
PHILADELPHIA – Todd Bowles didn't have much success in his debut as Eagles defensive coordinator.
His encore won't be any easier.
After the surging Atlanta Falcons put on an offensive show in Philadelphia en route to a 30-17 win last Sunday, Bowles gets a second chance on Monday in New Orleans. The Saints (2-5) are struggling in their own right, but can still put up big numbers, especially at home.
"The quarterback. The way they attack you. They're always going downfield and they're passing the ball a lot," Bowles said of the Saints. "They're trying to keep you on your heels, and they're an attacking offense."
The Eagles (3-4) could use some of that, too. Though Bowles' unit allowed 392 total yards, Philadelphia's offense didn't help vs. the Falcons.
"They are fixable. Like I said, we took a lot of good things out of the ballgame," Bowles said of his defense. "There were a lot of things (that we did in) training camp and OTAs, Day 1 kind of things that shouldn't have happened and didn't happen. We corrected them in the meeting and we'll go from there."
The Eagles have lost three in a row since starting 3-1, and are 0-1 since coach Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo and replaced him with Bowles. Philadelphia is 2½ games behind the Giants in the NFC East, after owning first place just one month ago.
"It was tough because we didn't win," Bowles said of his debut. "Then, the penalties and the third downs. It was one person here and one person there. You can't just single out anything. As a whole on defense, we have to get it done. It wasn't frustrating for me. It was frustrating that we lost. It was frustrating how we didn't play the way we normally play, but you write it off as a bad game and you look forward to the next week."
Should the Eagles be able to run the ball effectively vs. the Saints, the defense would stay a bit fresher after being on the field for 32:55 against Atlanta. It wasn't a banner day last week for the running game — tailback LeSean McCoy had 16 carries for 45 yards and quarterback Michael Vick had seven for 42 — but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg sees some positive signs.
"I thought we were in a pretty good rhythm. Now, we've got to execute just a little bit better on a couple of those (runs)," he said. "We had some drives. We've got to be better and we've just got to play at a higher level on a consistent basis."
The same can be said for the Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees leads an offense that has thrown up 190 points, but New Orleans opened with four straight losses, including two at home.
"They attack you with the running backs, the tight ends, and the wide receivers. You got to have a good overall game plan against them, and you have to hope that he is off a little bit," Bowles said of Brees. "You have to hope they are a little bit worn down. He's been tough for years now. It's not just this game. He's been tough against everybody. They are the number-one pass offense in the league for a reason."
The Eagles have two division games up next — vs. Dallas and at Washington — after the Saints game, and a Monday win could go a long way toward a potential turnaround. Philadelphia is just 1-2 on the road this season.
"We've got to play loose and free and we've talked about that," Mornhinweg said. "Just simply (be) unafraid to make a mistake. If we make one, we correct it. It's that simple and certainly that mentality will help us just a little bit with some of our dynamic ability there."
NOTES: New Orleans RB Darren Sproles has undergone hand surgery and won't be able to play Monday. Interim coach Joe Vitt revealed the seriousness of the injury after Friday's practice. He wouldn't say which hand was injured or even when Sproles was hurt. ... Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April said WR Damaris Johnson will return punts vs. the Saints. "Damaris will be the guy. I know he's looking forward to it," April said. "He's from New Orleans. It'll be a big homecoming for him and I think he'll play really well." ... The Saints are 1-2 at home this season.
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