It’s natural to wonder what was going through Bobby April’s head when he heard the news that Juan Castillo had been fired.
When Andy Reid announced Castillo’s dismissal, he said he was evaluating all aspects of his football team during the bye week. Presumably, that included special teams, a unit that ranks among the worst in the league.
While we often talk about football in three different phases, they’re all connected. Because the Eagles lead the NFC with 17 giveaways, and their coverage units have been so poor, opponents are starting drives, on average, at their own 31.58-yard-line, the second-worst mark in the league. In other words, the defense is constantly in a hole.
“If a defensive coach gets let go, I’ve got a great responsibility in that because we play a lot of defensive plays,” April said. “When the other team has the ball in their hands, it’s my responsibility to make the players on our team limit their ability to push it toward our goal line, and we haven’t really done that in our coverage. So I feel a great responsibility for how the defense plays. I certainly don’t feel good about that.”
Did he think he might be the next to be let go?
“I really wasn’t thinking about that,” April said. “I was thinking about any and every way I could help get our team better.”
April has spent 21 years as an NFL assistant. Not that he’s used to it, but coaches coming and going is nothing new to him.
“You know going in that you walk the plank, so to speak, everyday,” he said. “… It’s just part of the job really. It’s like Hyman Roth told Michael Corleone. This is the business we choose. And so you know that.”
After the Godfather reference, a reporter followed-up and said Reid whacked Fredo.
“Andy whacked Fredo. He didn’t really want to, but he had to,” April said.
Going forward, April took responsibility and said the Eagles’ special-teams talent isn’t the issue. He just needs to do a better job of getting them prepared.
“I think our guys are good enough,” April said. “I know they’re good enough. I like the way they play emotionally. I like everything about them. I’ve just got to do a better job of getting them more fundamentally sound than the other guy.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles could be starting three backups on the offensive line Sunday. Danny Watkins sat out practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. Rookie Dennis Kelly will take his place if Watkins can’t go.
In his weekly mailbag, T-Mac talks Jason Peters, safety depth and more.
Asante Samuel says the Eagles didn’t want to trade him to the Falcons. He also thinks the Birds’ problems this year are related to him not being on the team.
Todd Bowles shared some thoughts on improving the Eagles’ pass rush and making the defense unpredictable.
Not every player has been critical of Juan Castillo. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stuck up for his old defensive coordinator.
The first of my two-part Eagles-Falcons cheat sheet: Ten things to know about how the Birds’ defense matches up with Atlanta’s offense.
Is there anyone McManus doesn’t know? He caught up with Hurricane Schwartz to get an early weather report for Sunday. Now if Tim shows up to the game in a bow-tie…
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
SI.com’s Don Banks has the Eagles 13th in his power rankings:
We all know Andy Reid’s Eagles are 13-0 coming off byes in his tenure, but this was no ordinary vacation. There was little rest and positively no relaxation in Philly, with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo fired, Todd Bowles promoted and intrigue continuing to swirl around Michael Vick, Nick Foles and the starting quarterback question. And to top it off, the Eagles are at home Sunday against the 6-0 Falcons, Vick’s former team. Enough storylines for you? I thought so.
Derek Sarley over at Iggles Blog takes a look at some of the changes we might see under Bowles:
The pass rush itself isn’t the problem. So what he needs to figure out how to do is beat max protect with scheme up front and take away the easy, quick throws in the back. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store on both counts.
The Eagles will practice once more at Novacare, and we’ll get the final injury update for Sunday.
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.