Yesterday Steve Spagnuolo signed with the New Orleans Saints as their defensive coordinator, ending his chances of returning to the Philadelphia Eagles.
As a result, the Philadelphia Eagles have an extremely important decision to make, one that will largely affect the 2012 season.
Do they sign another defensive coordinator, one who has actually coached defense at the NFL level, or do they bring back Juan Castillo for another season?
The decision to hire Castillo as the defensive coordinator in the first place was, in my honest opinion, one of the single stupidest decisions made by a head coach in the history of the National Football League. Yes, ever.
Castillo, the team’s offensive line coach for the previous 13 seasons, had never coached defense before in the NFL. He had not coached defense since he had served as the defensive coordinator for Kingsville High School from 1986 to 1989.
Kingsville HIGH SCHOOL. And somehow Andy Reid thought this man could lead the team’s defense.
As expected, the Eagles’ defense struggled in 2011. They blew a fourth quarter lead and lost five times, including three of the first four games. Castillo didn’t use cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as he should have, and both suffered through disappointing seasons.
Even the wide-nine defense proved to be a major weakness. Without playmaking, or even average linebackers, the Eagles’ defense struggled against the run.
The Eagles did end the season strong, winning their final four games and allowing an average of just 11.5 points per game. For the season, they even ranked well in total defense: 10th in points and 8th in yards.
But don’t be fooled. The Eagles played against quarterbacks Matt Moore, Mark Sanchez, Stephen McGee, and Rex Grossman in the final four games. That has got to be the worst stretch of consecutive quarterbacks faced by any team this season.
They also faced Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Grossman, John Skelton, and Tarvaris Jackson earlier in the season.
Out of those names, ALL have been rumored to lose their starting job this offseason, or aren’t starters now, and I think all but Sanchez and Bradford will be backups next season.
Winning just eight games this season was inexcusable.
Even with the defense’s improvement, I wouldn’t bring back Castillo.
Because the Eagles clearly don’t want to. If they did, they would have chosen to give Castillo a vote of support at one of end-of-season press conferences.
They weren’t planning to make their long-time offensive line coach the defensive coordinator heading into 2011, and they don’t really want him back in 2012.
They wanted Spagnuolo and they didn’t get him but they’re crazy if they give up and announce that Castillo is returning now. One big name off the market doesn’t mean that you can’t still get a guy who understands how to coach defense, and has actually done it before.
Interview 50 guys. Sign somebody. It doesn’t have to be a defensive genius, like Spagnuolo.
But it should be a guy who has coached that side of the ball before. In the NFL.