Feb 032011
New Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo

New Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo

February 3:

Philadelphia Eagles news and stories from around the web…

Reid’s decision makes no sense

February 3 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan:

“At first, the news seemed ridiculous. Juan Castillo would be the Eagles’ new defensive coordinator? Must be a mistake.

Upon further reflection, and after hearing Andy Reid’s explanation for the decision, the move makes even less sense. Indeed, the more you think about it, the less sense it makes. Every attempt to understand it just raises more questions.

Reid wants to give an opportunity to one of his loyal assistants as a reward for his years of intense hard work. But didn’t he just do that with Sean McDermott? After the death of Jim Johnson two years ago, Reid could have gone out and found an established, qualified replacement. He stayed in-house, took a flyer on McDermott, and wound up crashing hard.

Lesson: Working hard isn’t always enough. Being a loyal guy isn’t always enough. Experience and ability matter, too.

We’re now being told Castillo helped the defensive coaches. How is that a good thing? Didn’t Reid just clean house on that side of the ball, and for cause? The defense wasn’t very good.”

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Choice of Castillo not wrong – yet

February 3 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford:

“Jim Johnson, the great defensive innovator and coordinator for the Eagles, was a quarterback in college and, briefly, a tight end in professional football.

He started his coaching career as the head coach at Missouri Southern and, when the time came to move up the ladder a little bit, the job he found was on the other side of the ball, as defensive coordinator for Drake University in 1969. Once there, he never crossed the line of scrimmage again.

The point of that dusty story is obvious. Good coaches can coach. Their expertise is in teaching and presenting concepts to the players in ways they can understand. It is to get them to work hard enough to have the teaching pay off.

There are many things you can say about Andy Reid’s decision to make Juan Castillo, the team’s offensive line coach since 1998, the new defensive coordinator.

You can say that it is another example of Reid’s being too infatuated with the football organization he has built and its schemes, and too aligned with the people he has kept around him. If there was a failing in promoting Sean McDermott to replace Johnson, that was the failing.

You can also say that Reid led a whole bunch of defensive coaches around the NFL on a merry chase for the last few weeks and some of them have the right to feel used by the process.

You can say that Reid, who only promoted Castillo when he was also able to hire legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd, might have his football priorities a little out of order. Reid, an old offensive lineman, loves that part of the game, but if Castillo was really the best man for the defensive coordinator job, that should have trumped the concern about finding his replacement. (It also says Reid is putting a lot of weight on a 68-year-old previously retired offensive line coach. But that’s next week’s story.)

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Eagles players caught off-guard by hiring of Castillo

February 3 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Asante Samuel voiced perhaps the same words that fans and Eagles watchers across the country uttered when he was informed that Juan Castillo was his new defensive coordinator.

“The offensive line coach?” the Eagles cornerback said.

Samuel was not the only Eagle to be shocked by a move that could rival the decision to sign Michael Vick for an organization often known for its deliberate style.

Center Mike McGlynn was home in Ohio when a reporter told him that Castillo was no longer his position coach and now the leader of the Eagles‘ defense.

“Really?” McGlynn said. “That’s crazy.”

Several other players had found out about the move from other sources but could not hide the shock even minutes and hours later.

“That’s a curveball,” defensive end Darryl Tapp said. “Maybe a knuckler is better.”

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Howard Mudd comes out of retirement to coach Eagles’ offensive line

February 3 Indianapolis Star:

Howard Mudd’s retirement was brief.

The longtime offensive line coach with the Indianapolis Colts, who retired from the NFL after the 2009 season, accepted a similar position with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to the team’s website.

Mudd, who turns 69 next month, directed the Colts offensive line for 12 years until his retirement.

He has been an NFL assistant since 1974.

Mudd’s former players spoke highly of him.

“Very smart and has clearly got the experience to probably be the best offensive line coach this league has seen,” Colts offensive tackle Ryan Diem said in a story posted on the Eagles‘ website.”

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Eagles go with the only guy left with a Jim Johnson connection

February 3 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Me, I would have hired somebody sharp and ambitious, with a Steelers pedigree, to try to fix this defense.

But that is not the Eagles‘ way. Acknowledge that the franchise from across the commonwealth, days away from trying to nail down its seventh Super Bowl title, its third in 5 years, is really the font of NFL wisdom in 2011? Concede that NovaCare’s brain trust is in dire need of some fresh ideas? Never, ever.

Instead of somebody who has played and coached in the Dick LeBeau-authored scheme that dominates the NFL these days, the defense run by both of this year’s Super Bowl teams, the Eagles have thought long and hard and have given us earnest, hard-working, offensive-line coach Juan Castillo. Because Juan always saw himself as a defensive guy, his office was right next to Jim Johnson’s, and Andy Reid always wanted to let Juan follow that dream, as soon as he could persuade someone as eminent as Howard Mudd to take Juan’s old job running the o-line.

Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton? Packers and former Steelers safeties coach Darren Perry? Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss? Sure, they all have played and coached on top defenses in the NFL for many years, developed some of the game’s best players, but there’s really no need to interview any of ’em, even after telling reporters you intended to do that. Hey, Juan will emphasize fundamentals, as he explained at last night’s news conference. Why wait a week to talk to any of those guys about what they might do?

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Castillo a good man stuck with a big burden

February 3 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Rich Hofmann:

JUAN CASTILLO grew up up in south Texas, the son of Mexican immigrants. His father worked on a shrimp boat and was lost at sea when Castillo was a child. His mother, who did not speak English, worked as a hotel maid and raised her family alone.

Castillo once told me the story of how he did not experience air conditioning on a regular basis until he went to college and lived in a dormitory. It was only then, upon returning home for the summer, that he first complained to his mother about the heat.

“Before that, I didn’t know what hot was,” he said.

Then. Now.

Castillo does not seem to realize what he got himself into yesterday when the Eagles named him their defensive coordinator. It isn’t that he doesn’t understand the skepticism, at least a little bit, because he does. He knows it isn’t every day – or every decade, for that matter – that an NFL offensive line coach is given a job as the team’s defensive coordinator.

What he doesn’t understand is the rest of it. Because Castillo, whether he wants to be or not, is a symbol of everything that some people can’t stand about Andy Reid and the Eagles‘ front office.

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