16 Most Memorable Moments of Former Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo’s Career
The Philadelphia Eagles made their first drastic move of the bye week, as head coach Andy Reid announced that he has fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Castillo served as the defensive coordinator for 22 games, since the start of the 2011 season, and is no longer with the Eagles in any capacity. Reid informed Castillo of his decision last night and named Todd Bowles, the defensive backs coach, as the new defensive coordinator. Bowles does not have any experience as a defensive coordinator, but he did serve as the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins late last season when Tony Sparano was fired.
I definitely agree with the Eagles' decision to fire Castillo, although he had been performing much better in 2012 than he did in 2011, when his on-the-job training cost the Eagles multiple games late in the fourth quarter. Castillo, quite simply, never should have been named defensive coordinator in the first place. He spent his entire career with the Eagles as an offensive line coach and was the last person in the world I expected to be named the new defensive coordinator. In fact, when I first got the philly.com text about it, I thought they had messed it up. But sadly, it was true.
With Castillo gone, the Eagles have 10 games left to salvage their season and earn a postseason berth, and likely a deep postseason run, or Reid will be fired. The following slides will look back on memory lane at the 15 most memorable moments of Castillo's career as a defensive coordinator.
17. Victor Cruz breakout game
Victor Cruz entered the third game of the season as a virtual no-name wide receiver. He ended the game as everybody's buy-now fantasy football start, after catching three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-16 win over the Eagles. This included an impressive 28-yard touchdown grab early in the fourth quarter in which he outjumped $60 million man Nnamdi Asomugha at the end zone. He also had a 74-yard catch and run earlier in the game in which he broke tackles from Kurt Coleman and Nnamdi Asomugha. Actually, Coleman and Asomugha ran into each other and looked like total idiots while Cruz dashed down the field into the end zone.
16. Run over by Marshawn Lynch
The Eagles entered a Thursday Night Football showdown against the lowly Seattle Seahawks needing a win, and likely four more, to keep their postseason chances alive. Instead, they fall flat on their face, behind one of the worst defensive collapses of the season. The most memorable play was a 15-yard first quarter touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch, in which he broke approximately 231 tackles in a second and half. He also added a 40-yard touchdown run down the sideline in the same quarter.
15. Tom Brady torching
I can only imagine the look on Bill Belichick's face when he looked at his schedule before the season and realized that he would have the luxury of facing Juan Castillo as the Eagles' defensive coordinator in week 12. The Eagles gave up 24 points in the first half and the Patriots generously coasted to a 38-20 win. Tom Brady threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns, BenJarbus Green-Ellis rushed for two short touchdowns, and Deion Branch and Wes Welker each recorded over 100 yards receiving. Replay the game 100 times, and the Patriots win 98 of them.
14. Jaiquawn Jarrett on Larry Fitzgerald
There's probably not a single defensive play that sums up Castillo's tenure as defensive coordinator more than his decision to have rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett cover superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on 3rd and 10 in the final two minutes of a three-point game. Fitzgerald burned Jarrett for a brilliant 37-yard diving reception down to the one-yard line. The Cardinals scored a touchdown to take a 21-17 lead and ended up winning to send the Eagles to 3-6.
13. 4th quarter 3rd down percentage
Unfortunately I can't find exact percentages but ESPN Stats & Info tweeted that the Eagles rank first in opponents' third down percentage since the start of the 2011 season in the first three quarters, and 30th in the fourth quarter. A difference that extreme isn't all the result of the coach, but he's largely to blame. If the Eagles ranked in even the top ten in third down percentage in the fourth quarter, they likely would have won two or three more games since 2011.
12. Lack of sacks in 2012
It's not Juan Castillo's fault that the defense isn't collecting sacks this season but as the defensive coordinator, it all falls under his unit. Despite big names such as Trent Cole, Jason Babin, and Cullen Jenkins, the Eagles have just seven sacks in six games this season. That puts them on pace for 18 sacks this year, which would be the ninth fewest by a team in a single season since sacks became official in 1982. That's beyond embarrassing, especially because defensive line coach Jim Washburn staked his job on the line if the unit didn't register 50 sacks this year.
11. 50 sacks in 2011
The Eagles had a tremendous defensive line in 2011, led by Jason Babin and Trent Cole, who both topped double digits in sacks. Cullen Jenkins was a force at defensive tackle and veterans Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker contributed off the bench. The biggest sack came when Babin forced a fumble of Eli Manning to win in the final minute of a Sunday Night Football contest.
10. San Francisco collapse
The Eagles led San Francisco 23-3 in the third quarter and lost 24-23. That's really about as bad as it gets. This loss dropped the Eagles to 1-3, and officially entered the team into full-scale panic mode.
9. Detroit collapse
This was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Eagles led Detroit 23-13 with five minutes to go and were on the verge of coasting into the bye week as a confident 4-2 team prepared to face the undefeated Atlanta Falcons at home. But they utterly collapsed, and Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson repeatedly torched the Eagles in the final minutes. This was largely because Castillo changed the defensive scheme on Johnson in the fourth quarter, using less of Nnamdi Asomugha and more of dime cornerback Brandon Hughes.
8. First play touchdown
I'll never get over the first play of Castillo's tenure as defensive coordinator, when St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson galloped 47 yards, untouched, up the middle and down the left sideline. The image of middle linebacker Casey Matthews chasing Jackson is one I'll struggle to get over during Matthews' entire tenure with the team.
7. Failed Casey Matthews experiment
I don't know if it was Juan Castillo who wanted Casey Matthews to be the starting middle linebacker entering training camp, but I'm sure he could have lobbied for a change if he wanted. He didn't though, and the Eagles actually played two regular season games with Matthews as their starting middle linebacker (and one more with him as their weakside linebacker). He was beyond brutal, and has not been a starter yet.
6. Animated in training camp
I was there for every training camp practice in 2011. It was pretty strange to see the way Castillo was acting. After every big play by the defense, he would sprint out onto the field and high five the player who made the tackle, hit, or interception. He even headbutted linebacker Keenan Clayton after practice one day and wound up with a bloody forehead. But the cheerleader antics were all that Castillo had, as we soon discovered, when the season began, and the Eagles started losing. In training camp during the 2012 season, he was quiet, virtually invisible. A changed, humbled man.
5. Missed tackles
The 2011 Eagles missed 108 tackles during the season, a ridiculous average of 6.75 per game. It's not just the missed tackles though. It's how they happened. Nnamdi Asomugha and Kurt Coleman crashed into each other trying to take down Victor Cruz. The entire team failed to drag down Marshawn Lynch. Nobody even got a hand on Steven Jackson. The 2012 Eagles have improved, but it's still a work in progress.
4. Season-ending four-game winning streak
The final four games of the season for the 2011 Eagles were when Castillo clinched his job for the next season. The Eagles surrendered just 46 points, an average of 11.5 per game. They did play four weak quarterbacks, but they still collected a bundle of sacks and turnovers.
3. Improvement in 2012
Castillo really improved the Eagles' defense in 2012. Final drive stops against the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and New York Giants won games for the Eagles, and a last-second field goal drive against the Pittsburgh Steelers isn't the end of the world, especially since the Eagles allowed just 16 points all game. But the Detroit game was the final straw.
2. Misuse of Nnamdi Asomugha
When Castillo began his career as defensive coordinator, he looked at Nnamdi Asomugha the way a little kid does a toy on Christmas morning. He was full of ideas but completely inexperienced. His plan to use Asomugha as a linebacker, cornerback, and safety combination like Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers completely failed when Asomugha turned in his worst season as a tackler. Castillo also used Asomugha away from the sideline and the man press that he had grown so accumstomed to, and the results weren't pretty. I'd go as far as to say that Asomugha has completely lost his confidence as one of the elite corners in the NFL.
1. Blown fourth quarter leads in 2011
The five blown fourth quarter leads in the 2011 season are what the Eagles and Castillo's defense will most be remembered for. The Eagles blew leads against the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, and San Francisco 49ers in back-to-back-to-back games, and then followed it up with consecutive blown leads against the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals later in the season. Four of the five blown leads came at home, and a win in just one of the five would have given the Eagles a postseason berth.