On the Eagles-Steve Spagnuolo thing

December, 27, 2011
12/27/11
9:12
AM ET
Lots of people asking about this San Diego Union Tribune report that it is "all but certain" that St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo will rejoin the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive coordinator once he is fired, as expected, by the Rams at the end of this season. Here's the way I understand this situation right now:

Spagnuolo
Spagnuolo
I've spoken with several people around the league lately who believe it makes sense for Spagnuolo to return to the Eagles as a defensive coordinator. But the people with whom I've spoken have basically been speculating, connecting sensible dots. Spagnuolo used to work there, the Eagles need a defensive coordinator, he's about to get fired ... makes sense. Maybe Kevin Acee has a source telling him such a move is already actually in the works, but if he does, that's not a person to whom I've talked.

The few people I've talked to who would know what's happening with the Eagles say no decisions have been made about the coaching staff beyond this season. Everyone assumes Andy Reid is safe in his role as head coach, but no one has yet come out and said for certain he is. And while it's assumed they need to move on from defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the converted offensive line coach who seemed overwhelmed at times in his first year on the other side of the ball, questions remain. Does Reid want to fire him or give him another chance? If it's the latter, is that going to be a sticking point between Reid and the front office? Do you move Castillo out of the coordinator spot and into another spot on the staff? And if so, which one?

The Washburn factor. The Eagles completely changed their defensive philosophy this year under Castillo and new defensive line coach Jim Washburn, who runs a "Wide 9" defensive line formation based on generating quarterback pressure with the four linemen and rarely blitzing. As a coordinator, Spagnuolo was known for blitzing. Would the Eagles want to re-install a whole new scheme and philosophy on defense for the second year in a row, considering the way that worked out this year?

Finally, everyone I speak to says that Spagnuolo is still very well regarded as a coach by NFL decision-makers, in spite of his lack of success in St. Louis. There will be competition for his services, and a couple of people to whom I've spoken have even suggested to me he could possibly get another head coaching opportunity right away. Even if Spagnuolo is on the market, it's no sure thing that his next job is in Philadelphia.

So that's what I know and what I've heard. To sum up: Sure, it makes sense and might even already be in the works. But based on what I know, it's nothing about which to get too excited on this particular morning. We'll all know soon enough.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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