INDIANAPOLIS – Nate Jones and Todd Bowles go way back.
The North New Jersey products first met when the Dallas drafted Jones in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL draft and Bowles was the Cowboys defensive backs coach.
Four years later they teamed up again when Jones followed Bowles to Miami for another two seasons. And again they were reunited when Jones briefly returned to the Dolphins earlier this season.
So it’s fair to say Jones, now with the Patriots, knows what the Eagles are getting after they hired Bowles to be defensive backs coach on Monday.
“He played the game,” Jones said Tuesday during Super Bowl XLVI Media Day. “He really knows how to reach players. I credit a lot of my success to him. He taught me a lot about the game.”
Jones said he and Bowles immediately bonded because they were both from the North Jersey area – Newark and Elizabeth – but the cornerback stressed the respect the coach earned from his players because he also played in the NFL.
“There are certain things about playing defensive back that it’s a hard position to coach,” Jones said. “Being as that he played it, he’s been out there – the techniques, how to really understand the big picture of the game, understand how offenses are trying to attack you, even small things – he gets it.”
Bowles, a Temple graduate, played safety for eight seasons in the NFL. He was part of the Redskins’ Super Bowl-winning team in 1991.
“He’s quiet, but he’s respected,” Jones said. “He’s respected throughout the NFL. He’s put his time in. He made the Pro Bowl, so on that end he’s definitely respected. Players like him.”
Jones also called Bowles “unassuming,” but he said the 48-year old knows when to be the disciplinarian.
“You’ll definitely get the hammer put down on you a couple of times a year from him, but only when he has to,” Jones said.
Bowles will have a mixture of players to work with in Philadelphia in terms of experience. Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel are veteran cornerbacks, although Samuel could be dealt in a month. But safeties Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett have played only a combined five seasons.
“They have a great group of athletes there,” said Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, also at Lucas Oil Stadium here for Media Day. “They should play better than they performed last year. I’m sure [Bowles] is going to challenge those guys to go to another level.”
Many think Bowles will be asked to assist defensive coordinator Juan Castillo with his zone coverages. There were many times last season when the Eagles’ defensive backs were either out of position or matched up against the wrong receiver.
Bowles has worked almost primarily in 3-4 schemes, but NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi said that he didn’t think the switch to a 4-3 would change much of what the coach does.
“I’m sure Todd’s going to bring some things to the table that will hopefully help out Juan,” Lombardi said.
Reid’s decision to take his offensive line coach and make him the defensive coordinator during Super Bowl week a year ago sent shockwaves through the NFL. Even though Reid is sticking with Castillo for another year it still amazes many affiliated with the league.
“I think it was clearly an ambitious decision,” Lombardi said.