Eagles' defensive backs the toast of the NFL

Posted: December 04, 2012

If I'm David Sims, Curtis Marsh or Brandon Hughes, I retire from football if I don't play this week at Tampa Bay.

Time to get on with my life's work. If I can't get on the field now, with the Eagles' secondary shattering records for ineffective play, I am never going to break through in the National Football League. It's that simple.

Sims is the Eagles' top backup at safety, Marsh and Hughes are the reserves at corner behind the guys who play a lot, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Brandon Boykin. There's also Colt Anderson backing up at safety, but I'm leaving him out of this because he's here to play special teams, and he does that well.

The last six games, opposing quarterbacks have a 142.4 passer rating against the Eagles. They have thrown for 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.

But last Thursday, Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator who continually decries his charges' inability to play basic zone defense, told reporters that if he had better players, they'd be playing.

In the immediate aftermath of Sunday night's 38-33 loss at Dallas, the second half of which was a new low defensively, with Tony Romo going 10-for-10 for 169 yards and three touchdowns, Andy Reid was asked the same question: What's to lose by trying the other guys, who haven't looked terrible in spot work?

"You're assuming they played well when they played," Reid said. (Really, not so much. We were just wondering how they could possibly be worse. But carry on.)

"I'm in the position where I've got to make that judgment, for sure. I have to weigh it out, who I think puts us in a better position to do things. That's what I do. I'm looking at those things. I've made the decision to play the guys I've played because I think they're the best ones to play at this point."

Monday, Reid amended that: "I know there are some questions on our secondary, and I'm looking closely at that, making sure we have the right people in there to do a better job these last four games."

The passer-rating stat only goes up to 158.3. That's perfection. The guys in there now are at 142.4 over six horrible games. They can't get close enough to a receiver to even watch an interception bounce off their hands.

At this point, after eight losses in a row, I'd be willing to give Alex Henery a shot at playing safety. Hey, maybe he could kick the ball loose.

DEVELOPING STORYLINES

-- After a bad first series, the offensive line really came together nicely in Dallas, I thought. Great running game again, lots more time for Nick Foles to throw. Of course, the Cowboys were missing nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a bunch of linebackers.

-- This was the Eagles' best special teams game of the season. Finally got a touchdown, on Damaris Johnson's 98-yard punt return. Gave up no yardage on Dallas punt returns, 22 yards on kickoffs. Four Alex Henery touchbacks, and two more field goals, running his streak to 21 in a row, best in the league right now. Way-long overdue.

-- The Eagles took just two penalties Sunday night, one of them offset by a Dallas penalty. The offensive line neither held nor false-started.

-- Jason Witten and Dez Bryant were targeted 14 times total, caught 12 passes for 216 of Tony Romo's 303 passing yards.

-- Bryce Brown. Dang. Fixate on the fumbles if you want; some people on my Twitter feed were doing that Sunday night. I say that can be fixed, the man is 21 years old and hasn't played regularly since high school.

I also say somebody needs to knock those people out of their trees so they can see the forest. Brown has run for 347 yards in his first two starts. Tell me where you've seen that before. Eight yards-plus per carry. Cast all the aspersions you want on the Carolina and Dallas defenses. Still . . .

New head coach, new offensive coordinator next year, Bryce and Shady, suddenly nobody's asking the QB to perform miracles, or the o-line to pass-block 50 times a game. Ought to be a different world.

OBSCURE STAT

I've been a sports writer since 1978. This is the biggest mess I've ever seen. And I have seen some messes, my friend.

WHO KNEW?

That it was Jim Washburn who couldn't get within 5 yards of Jason Witten on third down over and over again, when the Cowboys did everything but announce where the ball was going? Explains a lot.

EXTRA POINT

Nick Foles did Andy Reid a huge favor Sunday night, throwing for 251 yards in Dallas, taking good care of the ball, audibling for a touchdown to Riley Cooper, showing he could do more than dump down.

This allowed Reid to make the announcement Monday that Foles will be the starter for the rest of the season. Some observers have felt this would be the case, regardless, from the minute Foles stepped in for Michael Vick, but I wasn't so sure. Foles' first two starts really established very little. Reid feels a responsibility to the guys on the roster to try to field a competitive team, even if the playoffs are out of reach, even if he knows he's getting fired.

I think, with Vick progressing in his concussion recovery, perhaps getting close to returning to the field, Foles needed to give Andy something to hang his hat on Sunday night, and he did.

At 3-9, I don't think even Vick can quarrel with going forward with the guy we saw in Dallas.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: eagletarian.com

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