Anticipating the Impact of Todd Bowles

Todd Bowles is 6’2”, 203 lbs. Well, at least he was that big when he played in the NFL as a free safety for eight years.

Normally, the height and weight of a coach wouldn’t matter much. But in the case of Bowles, we can draw a clear line between his frame and his personnel preferences as a secondary coach.

As you can see at right, teams where Bowles has been the secondary coach consistently draft tall defensive backs (the same way Jim Washburn only picked tall defensive ends). In fact, he’s only drafted one defensive back under six feet since 2003, and that was in the seventh round. Clearly, Bowles’s preference is for bigger, more physical players. He probably would not, for example, have endorsed the selections of Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard, two 5’10” corners.

More relevant: Asante Samuel is not the type of cornerback Bowles had in mind as his prototypical starter. As I’ve mentioned before, the Samuel trade was about ego, a broken locker room, and justifying the 2011 personnel decisions — not on-the-field performance or the salary cap. But I doubt Bowles was campaigning for Samuel to stick around.

Instead, he’s probably quite content with his starters at cornerback for 2012. Nnamdi Asomugha is 6’2”, 210 lbs and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is 6’2”, 182 lbs. Hopefully Bowles can help mold a solid defensive backfield around the two of them. Curtis Marsh also stands to gain quite a lot from the Bowles hire, since his athletic 6’1”, 197 lbs frame would be perfect for his new coach’s system.

On the other hand, Kurt Coleman probably shouldn’t get too comfortable as a starter. I’ve discussed his athletic limitations before, but Bowles may be particularly keen to find someone with a higher ceiling. The counter-example of course, is 5’9” Brandon Boykin, whose selection Bowles must have approved. But perhaps he is willing to make an exception for the physical slot corner, regardless of his size, given the value he presented in the fourth round.

Alright, you’re probably saying, this is fun roster speculation and all, but what does it really mean? I’ll admit, not much right now. We already knew who the likely starters were and presumably Bowles will play whomever is the best in practice, not go simply by their official measurements. The more important question remains: is Bowles really a great coach? Every reporter hailed the addition as brilliant, but I’m less impressed by the fossil record:

Photo from Getty.

Eagles Sign OJ Atogwe; Whither Jaiquawn Jarrett?

According to reports, the Eagles have signed safety OJ Atogwe to what is likely a one-year, veteran minimum deal. Having some veteran insurance is something I’ve advocated this offseason, so I’m glad the Eagles are willing to make a low risk deal in that direction.

However, this again brings up questions about Jaiquawn Jarrett. It was just last week that I wondered if Jarrett might actually be in danger of being cut this year, and adding Atogwe doesn’t help him. Again, I don’t mean to write off a player based only on his rookie season, but I’ve been surprised at how little the Eagles have talked him up as a potential starter or even contributor. Other players like Danny Watkins and Curtis Marsh have gotten much more press as to a potential sophomore bump.

Jarrett needs to either win the third safety job — a true backup role — or find a way to contribute on special teams. Otherwise you’re just keeping him around to save face.

Still Waiting for Jaiquawn Jarrett to Show Something

Dave Spadaro, via Tommy Lawlor:

I don’t see Kurt Coleman being challenged for the starting job by Jaiquawn Jarrett. Coleman had a very strong spring and is in terrific shape. The real question is: Where does Jarrett fit into the equation here?

Spuds coaches his comment with the idea that Coleman is just doing a great job, but when Jarrett can’t even get a qualified endorsement from the team’s own media (let alone coaches or other players), it’s very worrisome. Jarrett has no legitimate competition for back up safety, but if he can’t demonstrate anything positive now, over a year since he was drafted, at some point the team has to admit the mistake publicly and cut its losses. I’m starting to wonder if that time will come this offseason.