Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles were a team on the cusp of playoff contention. They headed into their bye week with a 3-3 mark; three dramatic and close wins offset by a couple of heartbreaking losses. The Week 6 defeat to Detroit was particularly painful; Philly blew a late 10-point lead in that game, ultimately losing in overtime.
The bye week came in Week 7, and with that, a tipping point. Embattled and controversial defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was fired. Todd Bowles took over the defense on an interim basis.
I'm not sure the Eagles have stopped anyone or anything since. Coincidentally or not, the Philadelphia secondary has turned into the biggest sieve in the league under Bowles's direction.
Cam Newton became the latest quarterback to punish the Eagles, posting four touchdowns in Monday's 30-22 victory. Newton threw for two scores, ran for two more, and finished with a week-high 37.44 fantasy points in standard Yahoo! leagues. It reminded you of the superstar Newton we saw regularly in 2011 (especially in the beginning of his rookie year).
Alas, the Philly defense is a star-maker for any quarterback right now. To be fair, only name quarterbacks have faced this defense in recent weeks, but they're absolutely shredding the secondary just the same. Consider the results below:
The Castillo defense allowed completions on a mere 52.6 percent of passes. The Bowles group is handing out a completion 75.2 percent of the time. The Eagles pass rush has been missing in action all year, so that's not part of the story. The Castillo games were played against an easier slate of quarterbacks; Philly went 3-3 against this group: Brandon Weeden, Joe Flacco, Kevin Kolb, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford. With all due respect to that collection, the post-bye quarterbacks carry more clout on average as a group.
Then again, they don't hand out 9.7 YPAs and 139.95 quarterback ratings at the airport. When your defense allows 13 passing touchdowns against no picks over a five week period, your team is officially a dumpster fire. Some of Newton's highlights from Monday came against horrendous, or non-existent, defense. Brandon LaFell basically wasn't covered on two key plays, one a 43-yard touchdown.
Maybe it's unfair to throw Bowles under the bus. He's not the one missing tackles or assignments. But one thing seems obvious: the problems here probably won't be easy to fix, especially without a pass rush. Fantasy owners should pick on this pass defense whenever possible down the stretch.
The schedule doesn't let up for the Eagles over the final five weeks. They head to the road and face Dallas and Tampa Bay for Weeks 13-14. After that, Cincinnati and Washington come to The Linc. The finale is a Week 17 game at the Giants.
In other words, it's another batch of dangerous quarterbacks: Tony Romo, Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, Robert Griffin and Eli Manning. Let's have some fun with this, gamers. Good work if you can get it. And let's make sure we give a long look to any receiver or tight end facing the Eagles going forward. The numbers are too big to ignore.