By Brandon Pemberton
Today the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid, fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, making him a scapegoat for the teams mediocre 3-3 start. In the Eagles last two games, the defense gave up leads in the fourth quarter and Sunday’s collapse forced Reid to make changes. But this is more of a indictment towards Reid and the reason why if they don’t somehow turn it around and make a trip to the Super Bowl, he and this whole regime must go.
There is plenty of blame to go around when you break down why this team with all this “so called” talent is 11-11 in their last 22 games. We can start on defense if you like. It all started when Andy Reid hired Juan Castillo as the defensive coordinator when he has never coached defense in the NFL, let alone college. He had been the franchise’s offensive line coach since Ray Rhodes was here, and was one of the league’s best. He made a constant habit of taking late round picks and undrafted free agents like Jamaal Jackson, Artis Hicks, and Hank Fraley and turning them into serviceable starters in the league.
Moving a lifetime offensive coach to the defensive side, let alone in charge of the defense was unprecedented and downright foolish. It showed me that Reid thought and knew he was teflon and wasn’t going anywhere. The defense in 2011 was horrible, probably the worst I’ve seen in 27 years of watching Eagles football. After the play of last year’s defense, which was for the most part a direct result of Reid giving Castillo the job, they all should have been fired.
The players on defense also need to be held accountable for their play. Juan Castillo can call the right defense for a certain situation, but if the players don’t execute out there on the field, there is nothing he can do. The defensive line has been a flat out disgrace, 7 sacks in 6 games(pace for 18 for the season), after leading the league with 50 last year. They weren’t able to pressure the QB with the down four, so Castillo was left no choice but to blitz. Trent Cole, Jason Babin, and Cullen Jenkins have been complete no shows vs the pass this season.
Okay an obvious target is Mike Vick and the offense as a whole, he’s turned the ball over 13 times in just six games, often costing the team points and constantly putting the defense on the field and in tough spots. The Eagles rank 31st in the league in scoring 17.2 ppg, but is ranked 11th in total yards, which tells me that obviously Vick’s carelessness with the ball is a huge problem, and two the red zone offense stinks and hasn’t gotten any better since last season.
The offensive line is a glaring problem, losing the best left tackle in football and your starting center is going to leave you short handed. I’ve watched the coaches film and they aren’t as bad as most say they are, but the line definitely isn’t playing to the level that they were in 2011. Guards Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins, honestly have been mediocre at best this season and I don’t expect much from backup center Dallas Reynolds.
Finally, Andy Reid the one who has put this team together. He picks the players, he picks the coaches and he has final say scheme wise as well. The bad play calling, his inability to adjust on game day, not using Shady McCoy, who is one of the top 3 running backs in all of football and the fact that he had the gall to appoint a offensive line coach as the defensive coordinator, should have been grounds for dismissal at the end of last season. Instead, owner Jeffrey Lurie brings him back and we have more of the same mediocre play from last season.
It’s no coincidence that the Eagles are 11-11 over their last 22 games, but a win in two weeks over Atlanta could give the Eagles confidence, momentum and start a winning streak, but the downside of it is that it could also give Reid another year. We will see how it plays out, football is a funny game.