Last season, the defense coughed up five fourth-quarter leads. Castillo seemed to have gotten better late in games as the Eagles held onto slim margins in three of the first four games this season. But the problem resurfaced against the Steelers and then most memorably when the Eagles could not sustain a 10-point lead with five minutes to play against Detroit.
Todd Bowles' task will be to counter opposing offensive coordinators who appeared to have figured out Castillo's scheme late in games. The new defensive coordinator, according to several players, has stressed the importance of unconventionality with the game on the line.
"That's what he talked about, not being predictable in the fourth quarter," Graham said. "By the fourth quarter everybody [knew] what we're going to do. That's how we [got] beat."
Bowles has never been a coordinator in the NFL, so it has been difficult to get a handle on what his defense will look like. He said last week that it won't look much different from Castillo's in terms of keeping the wide-nine scheme on the defensive line and blitzing only when warranted.
Graham said he expected Bowles to use all of the Eagles' defensive schemes, unlike Castillo, who he said did not use all the looks practiced during the week.
"Coach Bowles, it's going to be fun to see what he's doing because I think everything we run in practice we're actually going to run in the game," Graham said.
The third-year end is hoping to play more under Bowles. Graham has played only 79 of 424 possible snaps this season (18.6 percent). Despite the limited time, he has recorded half a sack, 13 hurries, and nine tackles.
"I know right now they're trying to figure out who they're trying to play," Graham said. "I'm just trying to make sure I keep chopping at it, keep working hard, and hope everything goes my way."
The Eagles have not generated a sack in the last three games. They have only seven all season and only six from the line. Only the Jaguars have fewer, with five.
"Part of this game is you've got to get pressure on the quarterback," coach Andy Reid said. "You have to do that, so there's ways of doing that. We have to do some things a little better there. It doesn't have to be a sack."
How Bowles plans to get more pressure - whether by blitzing more, changing the alignment up front, or switching up the coverages - could be an element of surprise against the Falcons.
Safety Nate Allen (hamstring) was a full participant at practice and said he expected to play Sunday. . . . Defensive tackle Mike Patterson suited up for the second straight practice and Wednesday wore full pads for the first time since last season. Reid said that Patterson won't play Sunday. Patterson has three weeks to join the active roster or be placed on season-ending injured reserve. . . . Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox confirmed that he was fined $21,000 for punching a Lions player Oct. 14. Cox was kicked out of the game. He said it was his second fine of the season.
Contact Jeff McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.