Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
The Philadelphia Eagles have struggled this year in pass defense, giving Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals passing game opportunities.
The Cincinnati Bengals may benefit facing one of the league's struggling passing defenses Thursday night. After the Eagles hired Todd Bowles to replace Juan Castillo as the team's defensive coordinator after the bye week and prior to Philadelphia snapping an eight-game losing streak against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend, starting quarterbacks completed 76.3 percent of their passes for 1,519 yards, 16 touchdowns, zero picks and a passer rating of 142.4.
|Tony Romo||L, 33-38||27||22||303||3||0||150.5|
|Cam Newton||L, 22-30||28||18||306||2||0||125.0|
|Robert Griffin III||L, 6-31||15||14||200||4||0||158.3|
|Tony Romo||L, 23-38||26||19||209||2||0||122.1|
|Drew Brees||L, 13-28||27||21||239||2||0||128.2|
|Matt Ryan||L, 17-30||29||22||262||3||0||137.4|
"They're just bad," said Jason Brewer with SB Nation's Philadelphia Eagles site BleedingGreenNation.com when asked about the passing defense. "Safety Kurt Coleman bites on every play fake he sees. There's little if any physicality in the secondary. There's frequent miscommunications where wide receivers are left to just run free through the secondary. Really, everything is an issue."
Including Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who according to Pro Football Focus, has an opposing quarterback rating of 117.7, allowing four touchdowns and a 66.1 percent completion rate against receivers he's covering.
"I don't know what his problem has been," said Brewer. "But at the moment I don't think he's really giving much effort. He just gives up big plays routinely."
PFF rates Asomugha as the second-worst pass coverage defender on Philadelphia's defense, allowing at least eight receptions of 20 yards or more. Compared to players with at least 25 percent of their team's defensive snaps, only nine graded worse among cornerbacks in the NFL.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie offers more stability on the other side, posting more interceptions (3) and less touchdowns (3) than Asomugha this year, generating an opposing quarterback rating of 72.9.
Andy Dalton could use the help. Against the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys combined, he's thrown more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2), averaging 208 yards passing per game and 5.8 yards per attempt. Some could offer a rather simple explanation. The loss of Mohamed Sanu, who is a big body with plenty of physicality to block out defenders, giving Dalton a direct line of sight. Red zone situations were evident of that.
Now the Bengals are relying more on a shifty Andrew Hawkins, whose mainstay potential is breaking free during open field situations. Though Hawkins scored the only touchdown during the Cowboys last week, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden utilized the shifty receiver's speed with an end around, called a throw because Dalton flipped the football like a shovel pass.
Dalton, Green and Jermaine Gresham need to find momentum this week against the Eagles before facing the league's top passing and overall defense in Pittsburgh on December 23.