Castillo’s firing, while it may have been deserved, does nothing to solve the team’s problems on offense. It’s not the defense’s fault that the Eagles are ranked 31st in points or that their turnover total increases at a slightly slower rate than the national debt.
Will offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg retain his position? Will he continue to be the primary play-caller or will Reid take over those duties?
Will Michael Vick remain the starting quarterback? Will there be changes on the offensive line? Those are questions that might be answered before the Eagles return to action on October 28 against the undefeated Falcons.
The firing of Castillo, which is the first time Reid has fired an assistant coach in midseason, is also revealing. It reveals that Reid believes owner Jeffrey Lurie is serious about 8-8 not being good enough for Reid to retain his job.
The Eagles are 3-3. They could be 5-1 if Castillo’s defense hadn’t allowed long scoring drives at the end of the last two games, but they could just as easily be 1-5. In fact, with their three victories coming by a combined four points, they could be 0-6.
So let’s dispense with the “what if’s” and stick with the reality of a 3-3 record. They only trail the first-place Giants by one game in the standings and there is plenty of time to make the playoffs. But the Eagles face the undefeated Falcons and the Saints’ high-powered offense in their first two games after the bye.
Losses against the Falcons and Saints would drop the Eagles to 3-5, which would put Reid’s job in serious jeopardy. With quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in the Eagles’ immediate future, Reid couldn’t afford to let Castillo continue as defensive coordinator.
But Castillo’s firing is also an indictment of Reid’s judgment. From the moment Castillo was promoted from long-time offensive line coach to defensive coordinator, questions were raised about Reid’s decision.
How would an offensive coach adjust to coaching defense? How would a coach who has never been a coordinator be able to adjust to calling plays, let alone calling plays on the other side of the ball? Would Castillo be able to adjust to what the other team does during games?
The answer to all the questions posed in the preceding paragraph is “not well.” Castillo’s promotion was an unmitigated disaster last season. Well, it was slightly mitigated by extenuating circumstances caused by the lockout. Without offseason training camps in which the first-year coordinator could instill his system, Castillo was unfairly put behind the 8-ball from the beginning.
There were signs that Reid didn’t completely buy the lockout excuse. At the very least, the Eagles explored bringing back Steve Spagnuolo, a former Eagles assistant coach who won a Super Bowl as the Giants’ defensive coordinator before receiving a head coaching opportunity with the Rams.
In the end, the Eagles hired Todd Bowles as secondary coach. Bowles was clearly an insurance policy in case Castillo continued to struggle. But nobody, except possibly Reid, considered the possibility that the insurance policy would be cashed in so soon.
Again, it was Reid who put Castillo in this position. What does it say about Reid’s judgment that he was forced to replace his defensive coordinator just 22 games after promoting him?
Firing Castillo reflects poorly on Reid. But, for Reid, having egg on his face may be preferable to having losses pile up because his defensive coordinator can’t make the proper adjustments during games or find a way to generate sacks and turnovers. It’s preferable to losing his own job.
What else will Reid be willing to do to save this season and, consequently, his own job? Is Vick in Reid’s crosshairs? Is Mornhinweg next? Will the Eagles acquire a new guard, tackle or center on the waiver wire or via trade to replace the underperforming Danny Watkins, Demetress Bell and Dallas Reynolds?
The Eagles have underperformed on offense, defense and special teams this season. Firing Castillo might not even solve all the problems on defense, let alone the problems on offense and special teams.
Juan Castillo was the fall guy for the Eagles’ 3-3 record. But he might not be the last guy to fall.