There were varying degrees of willingness to talk about the Todd Bowles/Juan Castillo shake-up in the Eagles’ locker room Monday. Jason Babin, for example, has never been more skittish about a subject in his two years in Philadelphia. Others forced you to read between the lines.
There were a few revealing moments, however.
The biggest one came from backup linebacker Casey Matthews, who relayed Bowles’ message to the defense upon taking the reins.
“The biggest thing he said is, ‘We’re not going to predictable anymore.’ That’s what Coach said,” Matthews revealed, the obvious implication being that the ‘D’ was predictable under Castillo.
“We’re basically still running the same stuff. A couple tweaks. Coach Bowles said he’s not here to revamp the defense. We’re running the same stuff he just wants us to play together.”
That was the common thought from player to player: that Bowles would not be overhauling the defense; just some minor alterations to the scheme.
There was no evidence of any player being outraged by Castillo’s firing, and some are feeling reinvigorated.
“It’s a whole new season for us,” said Kurt Coleman. “We have 10 games to really prove ourselves and prove our worth to ourselves and these fans, and to the whole NFL. We’re not achieving our full potential, I feel like. We look at the last two years and we haven’t been able to do it, whether that be because of closing out games or what not. But we have 10 games to really prove ourselves and that starts this week.”
One concern is that Bowles, while having a wealth of coaching experience on the defensive side of the ball, has never called a game. Or has he?
“In the grand scheme of things, I think he was helping make play calls throughout this year,” said Coleman.
“I have all the confidence in him. He’s a smart coach, he really is. He’s going to do his due diligence in understanding the game as far as how the offense is going to attack us. And you have to be able to adjust throughout the game, and I think he is going to do a great job with that.”
Several players expressed sympathy for Castillo, whom they had grown to respect as a man. But all seem to feel that Bowles is ready for the role of defensive coordinator.
“He’s well respected,” said Matthews. “He’s been on the defensive side for a while and Juan came over from the offense. A lot of people, especially vets, you don’t know if they’re qualified and stuff like that. But I think Todd will get it done.”