Andy Reid said Friday it was "hindsight" to suggest he could have fixed his defense earlier, and maybe saved the Eagles' season, by firing defensive-line coach Jim Washburn and scuttling the wide-nine before he eventually did so, on Dec. 3.
Reid didn't say it was "wrong." He just said it was "hindsight."
Then Reid talked about how, with the defensive line in a normal formation, and the linemen not blindly making a beeline for the quarterback, life is much easier for the safeties and even the corners.
"It does look different," Reid said of the Eagles' defense, which has eight sacks in two games under new defensive-line coach Tommy Brasher, and has held opposing quarterbacks under an 80 passer rating in both games, after allowing at least a 120 rating 6 weeks in a row. "Tommy has done a nice job there."
Reviewing the game Friday, I noticed Cullen Jenkins forced an Andy Dalton fumble on a play where he started out inside but then skirted the Bengals' protection and came at Dalton from the outside. Washburn's front never featured stunts or games; d-linemen just tried to move in a straight line. I would think this would be harder to block.
"It gets better as it goes. We tweak it and we work at it," defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said Thursday night. I had asked Bowles to respond to fans who concluded that scrapping the wide-nine fixed the defense.
Bowles said 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham was playing the way he played at Michigan - not thinking too much. You have to wonder how much of that has to do with Graham knowing he's the starter now, knowing he'll get snaps, get into a rhythm. Brasher is rotating less than Washburn did; Graham played 52 snaps Thursday, up from 47 in Tampa and 31 in Dallas, Washburn's last game.