Eagles' Castillo move a smart stunner

Posted Feb. 05, 2011 @ 5:16 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Eagles' unusual decision to promote former OL coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator caught a lot of people by surprise. But many people around the league, especially those who have worked with Castillo, believe he's the type of hard worker and football junkie who can make the transition. Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who knows plenty about the Eagles (having coached there with Castillo from 1999-2006) and plenty about defense, gave it his thumbs up.

"I thought it was a great move," Spagnuolo said from the Media Center in Dallas prior to the Super Bowl. "The thing about Andy (Reid) is that he's a football guy. Andy is a football junkie, and Juan is a football junkie. Andy recognizes a great football coach.

"Juan, I believe, coached defense early in his career, played (defense) collegiately and knows football. Anytime I was around Juan in the years I was there, he wasn't just talking offensive line — he was talking football. We had a lot of conversations late into the night. I think he's going to do a great job."

Spagnuolo thinks Castillo might actually have a unique advantage when it comes to approaching defense, having been on the other side of the ball for so many years.

"In this league, we all know that there are a lot of passers. We all know that if you want to throw the ball, you have to protect the quarterback," Spagnuolo said. "So if you know how to protect the quarterback, you should have a pretty good advantage of how to attack those protections.

"When you're putting together a game plan to pressure the quarterback, you find your way into the offensive line coach's office and ask him about (protections). Juan will already have that advantage."

The other part of the Castillo equation is that the team hired Howard Mudd to coach the offensive linemen. This move evoked less shock, but there is some surprise in that Reid and the Eagles always have favored a man-blocking scheme that requires bigger, stouter offensive linemen whereas Mudd traditionally has coached more zone schemes, where quicker linemen typically perform best. It will be interesting to see if the Eagles make big changes up front to reflect this.