Eagles Wake-Up Call: Did April Think He’d Be Fired?

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.

COMING UP

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 skapadia@phillymag.com.

  • The Guru

    How Bobby April still has a job is beyond me….he must have dirty pictures of Reid. This unit has been abysmal every year he’s been here and is getting worse. Course, when you’re forced to use players on special teams that have no business being in the NFL, it’s not all your fault. Matthews, Damarius Johnson, Chaney, Rolle, Jordan, Dion Lewis, Chris Polk, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt….hard to imagine why they’re in the bottom 5 with talent like that!

    • Wilbert M.

      I completely agree with Matt. Don’t just look at this year – statistically the Eagles special teams were at the bottom of the NFL last year as well. How is April not accountable???

      • crazyeyes

        You guys are wrong about him. Last year to had top 10 in the NFL on punt and kick off coverage, plus the rookie place kicker set a franchise record with his field goal percentage. They were towaward the bottom in kick off and punt returns. I think he is a quality coach.

        • The Guru

          Wrong again. in kick return average, they were 19th. Punt return average they were 30th. In punt coverage, they were 30th. In FGs made, they were dead last at 32nd.

  • johnGiam

    look, every coordinator deserved to be fired. Marty couldnt be fired midseason, cuz replacing him with reid or doug peterson wouldnt have been an improvement. Juan was the one that they could fire midseason, and have someone in house who could step in already knowing the playbook, terminology and personel…But APRIL, he needs to go! He has been skating by on his reputation for YEARS, without anything to show for it. where has the accountability gone in this organization. You cant bring in an outside offensive coordinator midseason, but special teams aint rocket science…you could have brought in an outside coach during the bye week for special teams. I dont understand how april has a job…he was supposed to be the best, been here for years, and at best we have been average!

  • Kimbafuzz

    I love that Hyman Roth quote from “The Godfather Pt 2″. Sticking with The Godfather theme, I need the Eagles to go to the mattresses (metaphorically speaking) on the Falcons this weekend.

    That said, had April been fired, it would have been deserved. Just like Fredo.

  • Jay Grace

    Bobby April is a dope

  • Johnny_P

    Bobby April has slithered under the radar for too long. He needs to be called out for a poor coaching job, not be given recognition for ‘avoiding termination’. I cringe everytime the Eagles punt or kickoff.

  • southy

    Don Banks forgot about Asante as well. There is just an incredible amount of tension going into this game.

  • barry_nic

    Bobby hasn’t worked out at all. He’s got 21 years experience in coaching but it’s obviously not working out. I think Andy tried but failed this year. With the death of his son, the injuries to key players w/out any depth on the O-Line, and the other factors, this team is a very tough one to watch. 14 years is a long time, most marriages don’t last that long. I hope the next coach we hire can take advantage of the talent we have. Even if we pull it out this year I think Andy has had his run. GO EAGLES.

  • Anebriated

    Not saying he shouldn’t have been fired during the bye week but lets not forget that there have been changes to the way kickoffs are handled in the past few years since Bobby April joined us. The changes to wedge blocking was the start of it, he hasnt really adjusted since. His units havent really been terrible even after the changes. There have been major issues yes but most of it had to do with the lack of a returner or quality depth(linebackers, Olinemen and safeties are generally pretty good players for STs).