Thursday, January 19, 2012
Eagles should just keep Juan Castillo now
By Dan Graziano
So, former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a new job, and it's not with the Philadelphia Eagles. Spagnuolo has reportedly agreed to become the new defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, which means Eagles fans who were hoping Andy Reid would hire him to replace Juan Castillo in that position in Philadelphia are disappointed. It also means the most sensible choice for Eagles defensive coordinator for 2012 is Castillo himself.
The most significant problem with any Eagles pursuit of Spagnuolo -- and we never actually knew for sure that they were engaged in one -- is that the position was already filled. The Eagles fired defensive backs coach Johnny Lynn a couple of weeks ago, which would have given them the flexibility to move Castillo into another job on the defensive staff if they didn't want to fire him after only one season as coordinator. But now that the top available choice is off the market, it makes sense for the Eagles to keep things the way they are.
After a tumultuous offseason in which they converted Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator, hired defensive line coach Jim Washburn and revamped their defensive scheme and personnel, the Eagles struggled on defense for the first half of the season. But they ended the season ranked eighth in the league in total defense, led the league in sacks and ended up doing a number of encouraging things that would lead one to believe they were on the right track. To overhaul the coaching staff -- and, potentially, the scheme -- for a second offseason in a row would be to invite the kind of adjustment issues they had in 2011.
It seems as though Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is giving Reid a one-year shot to make a deep postseason run that helps erase the disappointment of this past year. If Reid really believed, a year ago, that Castillo was the man to lead his defense, why not stick with him on the basis of the improvement the team showed as the year went along? If they really believed the "Wide 9" defensive line alignment was the best way to play defense, the right move is to keep Washburn and Castillo in place and see if they were right about needing more than one season for it to take hold.
Anyway, I don't know what Reid and the Eagles are going to do. But to make a change at defensive coordinator just to do it, or just because the fans want it, would be the wrong move. Spagnuolo, an accomplished coordinator who gets a great deal of credit for the Giants' most recent Super Bowl championship, might have been worth such a change. But unless there's another, similarly strong candidate out there to replace Castillo, the best way for the Eagles to go at this point is to stay the course.