So the decision has been made to retain Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator for the Eagles, a decision met with chagrin by most of eagle fandom. Most people wanted the former offensive line coach replaced with an experienced defensive coordinator, with the majority favoring former Eagles assistant and recently fired Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo chose New Orleans and the eagles are keeping Castillo, with most of the public believing he is a lame duck that was only retained because the eagles were slow to pull the trigger. The Eagles will counter that Castillo grew on the job, and grew rapidly at that, showing vast improvement in defensive statistics compiled during their season ending four game winning streak. Critics counter with “Who did they play?” Four teams that, like the Eagles, are outside looking in at the playoffs. Separating improvements in Castillo’s performance benefits derived from a decline in the quality of opponents is virtually impossible.
The fact remains, the defense did improve. Schemes were revised and adjusted to take better advantage of personnel. Just as with anyone who get a promotion or switches jobs, there is a learning curve. You don’t come in knowing everything. You make mistakes. If you’re smart and work hard, you’ll improve your performance, your mistakes will decrease, and you will come up to speed. Castillo should be given the same opportunity, and all indications are he is improving. You can quibble he should never have been given the job in the first place, but once the deed was done, he deserves a chance. Additionally, you can bet the eagles will try hard to give him better tools to work with. Expect them to invest many of their draft picks or free agent dollars in players on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps even that elusive stud linebacker the eagles have long eschewed, and a position that is so necessary to stopping the run with the wide 9 defensive alignment they employ. The wide nine generated a lot of quarterback pressure, but the left the team vulnerable to the run and to tight ends running short patterns in front of the secondary.
Castillo will have a whole off-season, including mini-camps, training camp, etc. to refine his schemes, incorporate the new personnel, build on his hard won experience, and develop a cohesive unit. He deserves a chance to show he is up to the challenge.