Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Eagles players in the dark on Castillo, too

By Dan Graziano

It was around this time last year that Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy made the perplexing decision to take his offensive line coach, Juan Castillo, and make him his defensive coordinator. The results were ... well, they were mixed, in the end, and ultimately the Eagles' 8-8 season rendered pretty much all of their offseason moves unsuccessful by definition. The question on Castillo, though, is what if anything Reid plans to do about it. And if he's got an answer, he's not sharing it. With anybody. From Geoff Mosher of delawareonline.com:
Received the following text message the other day from a former Eagles defensive player, which I edited only to include punctuation and make slightly more legible:

Juan Castillo
The status of Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo seems uncertain this offseason.
"What's the word on Juan. Is he still DC or what? One of my buddies... said he ask(ed) him about it at Senior Bowl and he said he's not sure of what his title is."

Well, there you have it.

The Castillo situation feels like the next thing the Eagles have to decide, now that they've announced that Reid will return as head coach and before they can delve into free agency and the draft. Firing Castillo feels too harsh, in part because Reid put him in a very difficult situation and in part because the Eagles did finish the season ranked eighth in the league in total defense. (And there was their mistake right there, by the way. Turns out defense was overrated this year. The two teams in the Super Bowl ranked 27th and 31st.)

But the fact that the players don't know got me wondering: What role might the players and their opinions have on Reid's ultimate decision about whether to keep Castillo in the same role, fire him or reassign him somewhere else on the staff? Castillo's impossible not to like personally, and he's therefore well liked by his players. And many of them knew him for years while he was coaching on the other side of the ball. But not everybody in the Eagles' locker room was happy with the schemes implemented in Castillo's first season as coordinator. There was talk, for instance, in the locker room that cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wasn't thrilled with all of the zone coverage he was asked to play when his strength is in man-to-man coverage.

Asomugha is clearly a player around whom the Eagles plan to structure their defense in the coming years, or else they wouldn't have signed him to a long-term contract. Might Reid be factoring in the way his prominent defensive players feel about Castillo when making his decision?

Ultimately, it might not matter. Reports indicating that the personality and/or presence of defensive line coach Jim Washburn was one of the reasons Steve Spagnuolo didn't want the Eagles' defensive coordinator job are completely believable and legitimate. If the Eagles are committed to Washburn and his "Wide 9" defensive line formation, it's going to be hard to find an established defensive coordinator who's willing to come in and have something that significant dictated to him instead of deciding for himself how the linemen should line up.

Castillo already buys in, and the improvement the defense showed as it grew more comfortable during the season should buy him an extra season in the coordinator's spot. But so far it seems as though Reid hasn't told Castillo, his players or anyone else whether that's what's going to happen.