After giving up 45 points in each of the last two games, Bill Davis’s defense faces the unenviable task of going up against Tom Brady and the Patriots Sunday.
“When you have two bad games like that, everybody’s got to start with themselves, starting with me,’’ Davis said Tuesday as the players returned to work. “I’ve got to make sure I continue to work in putting these guys in position to make plays and make sure that individually they’re working on making those plays.
“You cannot panic. You cannot overreact. And you cannot underreact. That’s the fine line I’m walking right now. We’re looking at everything and everybody. What moves are available to be made. Are those moves warranted.
“The other day, we didn’t do a lot of things well. There was not one place or one position that was at fault. All of us own it. All of us own our own mistakes.”
Rookie cornerback Eric Rowe will make the first start of his career Sunday in place of Nolan Carroll, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle against the Lions.
Rowe gave up two touchdown passes to Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson in the ugly 45-14 Thanksgiving Day loss.
“It’s time for him to go out there and (let us) see what we have,’’ Davis said. “He played 14 snaps matched up on Megatron last week. He caught four. I think Eric grew a little bit. Two of those catches were in the field, which Eric was way too soft (on) and far off, and we talked about that. He’s got to get up there and believe in himself and challenge him.
“He had two in the red zone. I think Eric is one of our best fade-stop players in the red zone. The one they caught him on, I thought he played a great down, but he made a great catch on him.
“The other (touchdown catch by Johnson against Rowe) was a bad down all the way around. He missed at the line, and the help that was supposed to be over the top (from safety Walter Thurmond) got froze by a look-off and wasn’t there for him.
“The third-and-17 was a rough one for him. But I do believe in Eric and I do think we’ll grow him. He’s a young guy who will get more and more confident. And we’ll get more and more confidence in him.’’
Asked if he would have the Eagles’ other cornerback, Byron Maxwell, shadow the team’s best outside receiver, Davis said, “It depends who the matchup is. Early on (against the Lions), I didn’t think Golden Tate and Eric was a great matchup because you got a smaller, quicker guy (against him).
“So it will depend on the matchup. How big they are. Eric is a tall, long body. He matches up well with the taller, longer receivers. So we’ll move in and out of that as we see the need. As the game goes on, you look to see what matchups you’re struggling at (and adjust).
“That’s all over the board. That’s from the nickel slot to the outside 1s to the running backs and the ‘backers. We’re constantly looking at the matchups that favor us and the ones we’re struggling with.’’
Davis said he tried to give Rowe coverage help as much as possible Thursday. But he said Rowe actually played better when he didn’t have help.
Davis was asked about the coverage struggles of his inside linebackers, Mychal Kendricks, Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans. “Kiko played better,’’ he said. “Mychal struggled a couple of times in coverage. Those are matchups that sometimes you win, and we started losing that one. We gave safety help after that.
“We have to collectively get that shored up. I believe in those three guys. They are the answer in there. I have to find the right matchup in there.’’
Kendricks got beaten badly a few times by the Lions’ running backs.
“I still believe in Mychal,’’ Davis said. “Mychal can cover. And he will continue to cover backs out of the backfield. He had a tough matchup. But he’ll be fine in coverage. He has the athleticism. He has the understanding of leverage and where his help is. He just had a bad day.’’
Davis was asked about comments made on 94WIP Monday night by safety Malcolm Jenkins. Besides suggesting that there was no accountability on the team, Jenkins said the Eagles were too predictable defensively in the red zone.
The Eagles are 31st in the league in red zone defense. They’ve allowed touchdowns on 67.5 percent of their opponents’ red-zone opportunities. Only Jacksonville is worse in the red zone.
“We are no more or less predictable than anybody else,’’ Davis said. “There’s only a couple of things you do down there. You’re either bringing everybody or you’re dropping and helping out or you’re selling out for the run.
“We move in and out of different coverages. We show blitz and drop back. It’s not predictability. But everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I respect Malcolm’s opinion. I respect all the guys’ opinions. I actually enjoy getting feedback from them and seeing how we can make it better. Because at the end of the day, it’s about us getting it done and getting the win.’’
--Quarterback Sam Bradford, who was held out of Thursday’s loss to Detroit because of his healing left (non-throwing) shoulder, practiced Tuesday. Unless there is a setback, he likely will play Sunday against New England.
“Sam will be out there today,’’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said before the light one-hour practice session.’’
Running back Ryan Mathews, who has missed the last two games with a concussion, was at practice, but didn’t participate. Neither did wide receiver Josh Huff nor safety Walter Thurmond.