I think Eagles fans were hoping for a different kind of shock this off-season. Maybe sign Nnamdi Asomugha, maybe draft a productive defensive lineman in the first round, but I don’t think anyone expected them to promote their offensive line coach to defensive coordinator. But, that’s what they did when they put Juan Castillo in charge of the much maligned defensive unit. Tough transition for Castillo who goes from coaching a sieve like and injury plagued group up front to coaching a bunch of guys who can’t cover. It’s a move that is hard to make sense of, and really, for a casual observer, it’s impossible to judge. Initial reactions (from former Reid assistants) around the league are glowing. Reactions from the fans…not so much.
I’m going to list a few caveats here, and then raise some questions about this move. Before I say anything I will admit I know nothing about Juan Castillo’s knowledge of defensive football. I know he hardly has any defensive experience on his resume, but that is all I can tell you. He did play on the defensive side of the ball, and so at one point he obviously made a transition to coaching a position he was not too familiar with (o-line). I don’t know if there is a precedent for this kind of move, and I don’t know how specialized coaches are in the NFL. I personally don’t remember something like this happening, and in fact, we’ve been hammered at by the media and their constant referrals to coaches as “defensive guys” or “offensive guys.” Guess it is time to test that notion. But, even if Castillo is a defensive genius, my questions would be…
Why did this take so long? An inside the organization hire usually happens a little more swiftly. If they knew they were getting rid of McDermott and they were going to promote Castillo, why did it become such a drawn out process?
Is this another case of the Eagles wanting to do things differently, just for the sake of it? Sometimes I get the feeling that the Eagles like to draw attention to themselves so they can get praised down the line. This theory explains their odd drafting habits, and certainly applies here. Castillo pulls this off, and they are really setting themselves up for a pat on the head, and they believe it will work, because well…the Eagles front office is arrogant.
Was this about getting Howard Mudd? Mudd apparently is a highly regarded offensive line guy who retired from Indy’s staff in 2009. So, this is the guy who gets the credit for protecting Peyton Manning…who by all accounts refuses to let himself get sacked. Was this whole process contingent on luring this guy out of retirement to work with King Dunlap?
Did the Eagles not get their man, or did they panic about not getting him? It’s very rare that someone gets hired and they weren’t ever mentioned in connection with the job. This blows that out of the water. I wonder if the Eagles had someone tabbed and they turned out to be unimpressive? Or perhaps they got an indication that their target wouldn’t come so they reshuffled the deck to arrive at this?
I don’t know how this will turn out for the Eagles, but they are really setting themselves up to be questioned. The fans (88 percent on Philly.com) are horrified. The players are confused. Omar Gaither, “I didn’t know Juan knew defense.” Right. Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough if he does or not.