Repeatedly over the last 12 seasons, Eagles head coach Andy Reid has reminded everyone that this is, his team, his system and now the staunch head coach has added his man. In a stunning turn of events Reid has named a 17 year offensive coach to be the Eagles next defensive coordinator.
Reid tagged his offensive line coach of 12 years Juan Castillo with the daunting task of fixing the Eagles defense. This certainly isn’t the first time Reid has surprised the football world with his picks.
In his very first draft as the Eagles new head coach, Reid shocked everyone, including the Boo Birds in attendance, with his selection of quarterback Donovan McNabb with the number two pick in 1999. And we all know how that turned out.
Castillo a former linebacker in college and briefly in the USFL. He last coached on the defensive side of the ball in 1989, when he was the defensive coordinator at Kingsville High School in Texas. Nobody expects Castillo to run a 5-2 scheme, or will he.
The prevalent defense of many high schools would actually be a good fit considering the talent the Eagles currently have on defense, strong d-line personnel and weak line backing. The 5-2 is a hybrid of today’s NFL 3-4 defensive scheme, but if Reid was intending on changing his team’s defensive philosophy he wouldn’t have went with Castillo.
Reid fully intends to keep his former defensive coordinator Jim Johnson’s defensive game plan as the Eagles primary scheme. After Johnson’s death Reid went with a Johnson disciple, naming an unproven Sean McDermott as his replacement two years ago.
Now Reid has named possibly the last and only coach that could implement Johnson’s defense. Castillo worked closely with Johnson, as the two would discuss the defensive guru’s blitz and zone coverage packages for game day.
Castillo would explain blocking techniques that opposing teams could use on the offensive line to stop Johnson’s packages. Vital information that helped the Eagles become a force on defense.
During McDermott’s tenure as coordinator, the Eagles fell to 19th and 21st in points allowed from fourth in the league during Johnson’s final year. Castillo is a widely regarded coach who can teach and motivate players. A rah-rah type of coach that can get the most from his players regardless of their talent level, a major flaw of McDermott’s.
Just like Reid’s surprise choice of number five to be his quarterback, the selection of Castillo raises many questions. But Reid has earned the right, here in Philadelphia, especially from the fan base to hold off on their criticism for the time being. After all the Eagles were 3-13 the year before Reid took over and since have become one of the elite teams in the NFL.
If Castillo can improve the defense, the way he has with the Eagles offensive line during his time working with them, watch out Philadelphia, because we are heading to Indianapolis next February. Of course if there is football.