Eagles Fire Defensive Coordinator After Catching Him on Tape Stealing Boxes
While I was on vacation from blogging in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Eagles blew their opportunity to win against the Detroit Lions (or the Lions found their mojo in the 4th quarter, depends on how you look at it). Right after that, Eagles coach Andy Reid checked the security cameras at Novacare and noticed defensive coordinator Juan Castillo on tape stealing boxes. Yesterday morning, the Eagles made it official – Castillo was fired on his day off.
[To read my opinion on the Castillo scapegoating click Read More]
I have no idea why Castillo was stealing boxes. But it’s a shame things had to end this way. In his first year as a DC (with no prior defensive experience) Castillo finished with a top 8 defense and as of yesterday, his defense was in the top 12 despite the fact that the Eagles offense is ranked in the 30s.
Wait…I’m hearing that Castillo box story is a hoax and that Castillo was actually fired because the Eagles, specifically coach Andy Reid, needs to “make some moves” that don’t include firing his own self. Some reporters think Michael Vick might be the next to get the boot.
I’ll try to keep my opinion short.
Eagles HC Andy Reid made a bunch of statements in his presser on this that were fantastical. Bottom line: he’s trying to save his ass and, per usual, anyone and everybody must suffer the consequences including those of us who have supported this team through a bunch of seasons in which Andy Reid didn’t win a damn thing but a new contract and some undeserved national media favor. **I’ve seen the argument that the Eagles started moves by firing Castillo cause it’s the easiest fix to start with, but Bobby April will now take over for Bowles and his special teams unit is an UNMITIGATED DISASTER. This ain’t just about results.
Secondly, I know that people have lots of issues with the top qualitative measure of defenses being yards surrendered. I’m working on a post regarding that issue. But the long and short of it is that no stat stands alone and that yards surrendered are absolutely a way to measure how much a defense is allowing the other team to advance the ball — a key factor in wins and losses. Again, more on that later but for now, main point: you can’t emphasize how important it is to advance the ball–and we football fans do, in fact, emphasize that– and then wail when defenses are judged first and foremost by whether Drew Brees looks like Johnny Unitas against them.
I say this because it matters that Castillo’s defense was flourishing over all. There are discipline problems on the Eagles team on both sides of the ball and playcalling issues on both sides of the ball; however, the defense has shown a propensity to fix those issues whereas the offense has not.
For example, the defense altered the wide 9 (a scheme that even EXPERIENCED DCs didn’t want to work with) so that it wasn’t a marriage of every snap, jockeyed some folks out of the lineup, used Asomugha on TEs to cover for safeties, all but eliminated Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s failed role in the slot among other adjustments. From last year to this year, I can’t name any major adjustments the offense has made that weren’t absolutely necessary due to injury. I could probably go back further than that but this is really about defense vs. offense in the Castillo error. Yes error, not era.
Thirdly, one thing the Eagles defense has been blamed for is losing 4th quarter leads. I’d like to dispute that, if I may. The Eagles can barely put up 17 points a game. I’d argue that if the Eagles defense has held the other team to under 20 points, even if the Eagles are “winning” it’s not really a lead so much as defensive stave off that unfortunately didn’t last the entire game. There’s a fine line between the two but a line nontheless. Defenses must hold, and I’m not exonerating them from that. But offenses also must score and maintain possession late in games. Despite multiple explosive weapons on offense, the Eagles could not be trusted to score in the last 10 minutes of their game against the Lions. 10 minutes is a freaking lifetime. Firing Castillo does nothing to change that.
I’ve complained about Andy Reid and OC Marty Mornhingweg over and over so I won’t do that again here. At this point I’m starting to accept that the only way I’ll be rid of these two is to pay Jim Washburn take them out (although he’d probably do it for free at this point!) But what I will say is this…when the Eagles return from their bye week to play the Atlanta Falcons (assuming no one else is fired in the interim) I expect the assessment of the team’s performance will consist of the same complaints they did last week and the week before and last season.
The fact that the so-called unqualified defensive coordinator had a unit that outperformed the guy that no one can seem to find the balls to fire is telling. Finally, although I’m a fan of Todd Bowles he has no experience as a defensive coordinator at the NFL level either. Granted, he has worked and played on the defensive side of the ball whereas Castillo hasn’t but compared to who they could have had (Steve Spagnuolo, for example) Bowles is a newb.
Further, Bowles specialty is the secondary not the front. The secondary, thanks to Bowles et al, has their shit together. Not only are they keeping QBs completions down they’re doing so in spite of zero help from the front wich has not been very successful getting to or hurrying the QB. Can Bowles reconcile the two? Can the secondary keep up the good work with Bowles not specifically focused on them? I hope so but I cannot be sure based on experience.
Just because I know people will comment on this…rumblings that Bowles is Reid’s replacement fall on deaf ears with me. I have no opinion on it, really. As a reminder, Reid was plucked from relative obscurity and went on to be a great head coach for many years. My wish was that Colts HC Chuck Pagano would be the Eagles next coach and now that that’s not going to happen my hopes are still too deflated to think about other options.
As an Eagles fan, I’m not really excited to start over on the defensive side of the ball when special teams and offense is just so awful. The Eagles are only 1 win out of first in the NFC East and they just shook up the only thing on the team that has worked consistently since last year.
Lastly, I miss Jason Peters and Jason Kelce so much.
** Correction: I was told on twitter that defensive quality control coach Bobby April III would be taking over for Bowles rather than his dad, currently special teams coach Bobby April handling both duties. Here’s confirmation. Fact remains that the Eagles still keeping April despite a worst performance than Castillo. For now, anyway.