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Juan Castillo knows he needs a “good start” for Eagles defense

Juan Castillo AP

In 2011, Eagles coach Andy Reid fired defensive coordinator Sean McDermott because the shadow of Jim Johnson was deemed to be too big.  McDermott would fit more than comfortably in the shadow created to date by his successor, Juan Castillo.

But that could change in 2012.  With a full season under his belt — and now a full offseason of preparation (which Castillo didn’t have last year), the Eagles defense could be much improved under the former long-time offensive line coach.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer takes a close look at the situation, explaining there are and will be no excuses if the defense struggles in 2012.

“I get it, man,” Castillo said, per McLane.  “But last year’s gone.  It’s about this year.  It’s about us getting off to a good start, and starting where we left off last year.”

They left off in a good place last year, digging out of a 4-8 hole with a quartet of consecutive wins to end the season, missing the playoffs by only one game.  The defense improved as the season unfolded, which made sense given that a bunch of new parts were thrown together after the lockout ended, with only a handful of weeks to prepare under a new coordinator with various new defensive lineman and new linebackers and new defensive backs.

This year, Castillo has a new approach to the classroom.  In order to ensure that the players pay closer attention to what he’s saying, he has installed large, eye-level photos of various defensive players making plays.

“You’re young.  You’re in a classroom.  Your mind drifts, and what do you do?” Castillo said when explaining the approach during the offseason.  “Your head dips and you start looking down.  I want their eyes up looking at me.”

But here’s the thing.  They won’t be looking at him.  They’ll be looking at the pictures.  And if they have to strain to understand Castillo, who speaks with a fairly thick accent, they’ll do their daydreaming not while looking down, but while looking at the pictures Castillo has placed on the wall.

Still, Castillo ended up doing something right last year, because the defense definitely improved as the year went on.  The question is whether it will continue to improve this year — and whether the team will improve enough to get Castillo a third season.  And/or to get Reid a 15th.

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15 Responses to “Juan Castillo knows he needs a “good start” for Eagles defense”
  1. jaystop says: Jul 19, 2012 10:34 AM

    The Eagles two biggest moves this offseason no one is talking about are 1) signing DeMeco Ryans and 2) bringing in Todd Bowles as an assistant. Finally sured up the middle of the defense with a proven player and leader and hedged their Castillo bet with a proven defensive strategist.

  2. forthand26 says: Jul 19, 2012 10:39 AM

    It’s becoming very clear that the Eagles are monstrous favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

  3. distracted9 says: Jul 19, 2012 10:42 AM

    I love Juan.. I think he was thrown under the bus a lot for our embarassing D. Nnamdi was misused and Matthews was given to much time to show what he couldnt do.. I think this year w/a stonger linebacking corp to support the wide 9 and our corners playing press and man coverage we should be much improved.

  4. wallaceb0b says: Jul 19, 2012 11:01 AM

    Juan is a good coach, good motivator and good communicator. His accent is not thick and players do not need to strain to pay attention to him.

  5. laeaglefan says: Jul 19, 2012 11:13 AM

    “It’s becoming very clear that the Eagles are monstrous favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl”

    I think that’s overstating it just a bit. The Eagles probably aren’t even favorites, let alone “monstrous” favorites. I think the most accurate thing that could be said is that the Eagles will be competitive and will be in the hunt for the Super Bowl. But let’s not get overly exuberant about their chances. We’ve been there before and as the saying goes…the rest is history.

  6. nfcbeastly says: Jul 19, 2012 11:13 AM

    If 3 games in Eagles are holding a 1-2 record, people will be calling for Juan’s head. There is no margin for error at this point. Having 1 failed year as a D-Coordinator behind him, and the confidence of Reid, plus the acquisition of skilled D players for 2012, now is the time.

  7. tombrookshire says: Jul 19, 2012 11:33 AM

    Reid’s explanation is typical Reid-spin. The truth is, McDermott was so eager to put his personal stamp on the defense, he made his schemes unnecessarily complex, in a way trying to “out-Johnson Johnson.” He also alienated the players which even though Castillo started out the same way, players realized he was a straight shooter albeit a little over enthusiastic, and also desired to impress Reid. What saved Castillo’s bacon was that later in the season, he finally started listening to his players and simplified his scheme. Only problem is, Washburn is on his own island with the DL and doesn’t really report to the DC. Bowles was hired to coach the secondary, but is a DC in waiting should Castillo falter.

  8. dynast77 says: Jul 19, 2012 11:38 AM

    Why does everyone keep busting on Juan? Sure, the Eagles defense struggled early last season, as expected. During the 2nd half of the year, the Eagles had one of the top defenses in the league!
    Give the guy a break.

  9. bdawkins20 says: Jul 19, 2012 12:19 PM

    take away all the turnovers by the o and see how they make the playoffs last year. the d cant solve the problem of bad turnovers by the o. i think this will be a dominant d this year. just feed shady and play d.

  10. pjhurley5 says: Jul 19, 2012 12:55 PM

    “But here’s the thing. They won’t be looking at him. They’ll be looking at the pictures. And if they have to strain to understand Castillo, who speaks with a fairly thick accent, they’ll do their daydreaming not while looking down, but while looking at the pictures Castillo has placed on the wall.”

    - Perfect example of trying to fabricate a story/issue/problem when there is not one. Unbelievable that this is getting criticism.

  11. rugbyisbetter says: Jul 19, 2012 2:56 PM

    The blame should go to both Reid and Castillo. Andy hired him, and he accepted. Once you accept the DC, you accept the responsibility of getting that D to play at championship level, and accept the scrutiny of that position.

    To let the youth at LB and Safety stay in for so long was a poor mistake by them both. To say its not long enough for an MLB to make an impact as a rookie? Go look at the Broncos MLB, he will tell you differently. He had the same offseason (none). They had Dawk and we had a young rotation that got exposed.

    And I am not saying it was all Defense, Vick let the ball into the other teams hands too. But when you blow 5 (5!) 4th quarter leads, that screams defense and interceptions.

    It was just comical to see Reid blame the offense for everything during the season. Then in the offense admit the linebackers and safeties were a known problem going into and during last season.

  12. pmx8411 says: Jul 19, 2012 4:18 PM

    I can not wait for training camp!! I can not wait to see the rookies Cox, Kendricks and my boy Brandon Boykin

  13. janvanflac says: Jul 19, 2012 4:27 PM

    Now they have the personnel to fit the scheme.

    I’m sure they will be much improved.

  14. stan97 says: Jul 19, 2012 10:21 PM

    I’d stay they’ve stacked the deck in his favor with all the studs they’ve brought in via FA and finally drafting some quality defensive players this season.

    It’s like they’ve built this defense to be Castillo-proof, but time will tell.

  15. oldbyrd says: Jul 20, 2012 8:57 AM

    Just admitting that he must get off to a good start is a good start.

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