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.
Last Sunday, after the Eagles fell to the Lions, Nnamdi Asomugha addressed reporters at his locker.
The Birds had shut down Calvin Johnson and the Detroit offense for three quarters, but collapsed in the fourth quarter and overtime of a 26-23 loss. Asomugha seemed to question Juan Castillo and some of the calls that were made at the end of the game. But today, he said that wasn’t his intention.
“I had a tough time last week when those stories came out, to be honest,” Asomugha said. “It was moreso a character thing. And it’s something that I would never do as a player. And I think you guys will start to know that a little bit more as we continue to get to know each other. There’s no underlying of ‘This was said, but it might have meant this.’ I wouldn’t do that to a coach and especially Juan. Just because as far as a player-coach relationship, we had been so communicative. It wasn’t a good feeling. But after speaking to him and him knowing that wasn’t the case, I think it made it a lot better. I don’t think that had anything to do with him being let go.”
Here’s a breakdown of what we saw from the coach’s tape in what ended up being Juan Castillo’s final game as coordinator.
Given everything that’s happened this week, and because it’s the bye, now is a good time to assess the state of the Eagles. From Marty Mornhinweg to Andy Reid to Michael Vick, here are three thoughts on the Birds.
Eagles coach Andy Reid is taking a pounding from the national media this week. Here’s a roundup of what they’re saying.
Andy Reid’s 14-year odyssey has come down to the next 10 hours.
Ten games, 60 minutes of game clock a pop. In that time he has to prove to owner Jeffrey Lurie that “substantial improvement” has been made, and that he at the very least has his first Lombardi surrounded. At the current rate, the 2012 club will end just like last year’s bunch did — at .500. Lurie has already deemed that outcome unacceptable. A playoff appearance — and maybe a playoff run — seem necessary to re-establish job security. The Eagles will have to go 7-3 the rest of the way to put themselves in proper position for a playoff berth.
That is the reality Reid is operating in. It is a driving force behind his intensive bye week evaluation, one that has already resulted in the firing of longtime friend Juan Castillo in favor of Todd Bowles.
When asked what the Eagles’ defense needs to focus on going forward, new coordinator Todd Bowles did not hesitate.
“We’ve got to finish at the end of the games,” he said. “We’ve got to finish and win games. The bottom line is, when you’re out there on defense, it doesn’t matter what happens when you’re out there at the end of the game, you’ve got to finish.”
Before today, Todd Bowles was in charge of the Eagles’ secondary. Now, his job is to come up with a game-plan for the entire defense.
That includes finding a way to improve a pass-rush that has gone without a sack the last three games.
Juan Castillo was overcome with emotion Monday when asked to talk about his time in Philadelphia.
The former defensive coordinator, relieved of his duties this week in favor of Todd Bowles, talked to Vai Sikahema of NBC 10 on Tuesday. Sikahema asked Castillo what he will think about when he reflects on his career with the Eagles.
“The opportunity,” said a shaken Castillo, as heard on 97.5 The Fanatic. “And not taking advantage of the opportunity and making it happen for my family, for Coach Reid, for the city and for our guys. That’s what a warrior does. We talk about that all the time. There are no excuses, man. You get it done.”
This may be just the start of the shakeup.
During his press conference to officially announce the firing of Juan Castillo and promotion of Todd Bowles to defensive coordinator, Andy Reid said, “This is one of the moves and we’ll see where it goes from here.”