Andy Reid promised in his press conference Monday that things were going to change. He wasn’t lying. Juan Castillo, who was hired as defensive coordinator before the 2011 season, was fired Tuesday. Castillo, who spent 16 years on the Eagles staff before becoming d-coordinator, was relieved of his duties after his defense blew yet another fourth quarter lead Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Secondary coach Todd Bowles will take over as interim d-coordinator.
I believe that there are several factors that went into this decision. First is the blown fourth quarter leads. The Eagles defense blew six fourth quarter leads in 22 games under Juan Castillo. Head coach Andy Reid said that he reviewed film from last year and saw a trend that was beginning again this season. These trends included playing soft in the fourth quarter and not sacking quarterbacks. Many also believe that Todd Bowles, who came highly recommended by Bill Parcells, was brought in to be a backup plan if Castillo continued to struggle. This idea has not been confirmed by the Eagles, and I doubt it ever will. But it just makes too much sense.
The coaching change in the middle of the season has had Eagles fans debating whether Juan Castillo ever had a chance to succeed or
not. Castillo was moved to defense after spending many years as offensive line coach for the Eagles. How often does that happen? Better yet, what are the chances that would ever work? We now have our answer. Still, you have to feel bad for Castillo. He was put in a position that was destined to fail from the beginning. The wide-nine defense was the idea of Jim Washburn, not Castillo. To me, Castillo was made the scapegoat. However, there needed to be a change; something needed to be done to light a fire under the defense. In that sense, I agree with this move.
The sudden change as created speculation around Philadelphia that Andy Reid is burning on the hot seat. In his post-season press conference in 2011, owner Jeffrey Lurie adamantly proclaimed that last year was a major disappointment. This season has been no different. The feeling around Philadelphia is that if the Eagles fail to make the playoffs this year, Andy Reid will lose his job. The same can be said about quarterback Michael Vick. Besides a fantastic 2010 season, Vick has looked pedestrian during his tenure in Philadelphia.
This move could do one of two things. The defense could get the message and start playing up to its potential. Or it could pack things up and start preparing to find new jobs next season. I expect it to be the former. This move should rejuvenate a talented, but under-achieving defense. Todd Bowles has been around the block once or twice, so this is not something completely new to him. Will this move propel the defense? I think yes. But only time will tell. We’ll get our first glimpse in two weeks against the Atlanta Falcons.