Eagles Day After: Castillo: Don't give up on defense

Juan Castillo: 'We've played some good series; now we've just got to continue to keep hammering away.'
Juan Castillo: 'We've played some good series; now we've just got to continue to keep hammering away.' (CLEM MURRAY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 27, 2011

JUAN CASTILLO insists he will work his way out of this, because that is what Castillo has always done.

Maybe you're watching Castillo's defense and thinking that no amount of work will make linebacker Casey Matthews more than an overmatched, uninstinctive, fourth-round rookie, and that the Eagles' huge problems at safety have more to do with speed and talent than with work.

The offensive-line coach who became a defensive coordinator feels otherwise.

Castillo, the bags under his eyes looking at least as heavy as some of his linebackers, met with a few reporters yesterday afternoon. He hadn't slept in the 21 hours or so since the Eagles' 29-16 loss to the Giants, in which Castillo's defense gave up a fourth-quarter lead with a pair of touchdowns for the second week in a row and allowed four touchdown passes to the opposing quarterback for the second week in a row.

"Yes," Castillo said, when asked whether he is confident he has the talent on his roster to be successful. "Part of it is they all get to learn, get to get used to playing with each other, too. Understanding how each one does a certain thing - it's a feel. The longer we're together, the better that we'll be."

Even in the NovaCare inner sanctum, Castillo knows people are loudly questioning whether he knows what he's doing.

"I have a job to do, right? I'm gonna succeed, for coach Reid, for the city, for my family," Castillo said. "This is an opportunity, this is a challenge, this is a job. We're all men. We all have had challenges before. So, come on, let's go. You work harder. You lead by example. You don't panic. You have a plan. We believe in our plan. We've played some good series; now we've just got to continue to keep hammering away.

"We all get tested. I think we've all been there, where we get tested to see what we're made out of. I think it's good for the players, because they want to see how I react. Does he really have a plan, does he believe in his plan, how's he going to handle the meetings? Does he have confidence in himself? I think all those things are important, and that the players will see that we do have a plan."

Asked about the possibility of starting sixth-round rookie Brian Rolle in place of Matthews, Castillo said: "Today is Monday. We'll see on Wednesday. 'B-Roll' has been playing well. Casey, really, he gave up that [40-yard touchdown] play, you know, but he had a solid game in the run game. You saw him make some tackles. He's getting better and better."

DEVELOPING STORYLINES

* We know this "Wide 9" is a great idea because it's what the Tennessee Titans used when they won all their Super Bowls, right? What's that? Oh. Never mind, then.

* Not only was DeSean Jackson held to two catches, but both of 'em came in the first quarter. Dropped a pass early in the third. Watched a Mike Kafka balloon settle into Aaron Ross' hands in the fourth.

* I really don't have the patience for "Why didn't they just hold on to Kevin Kolb?" The Eagles traded Kolb because he was under contract only for this season. They would either lose him as an unrestricted free agent for nothing in February, or pay him franchise tag money for 2012, which would be ridiculous and unworkable after paying Michael Vick $80 million. They got a talented young cornerback and a second-round draft pick for Kolb. The real question is whether Andy Reid made the right decision a year ago, when he staked his future on Vick, instead of the guy he drafted. That, we can debate.

* I don't know what "cadence issues" are, exactly, which Eagles players and Andy Reid mentioned, but I know there is no excuse for four false starts in a home game, two of them charged to the center.

WHO KNEW?

Not re-signing Steve Smith would work out so well for the Giants?

If the Eagles get points in the red zone on their opening drive instead of Smith volleyballing an interception to former teammate Aaron Ross, and then Smith runs his route correctly in the fourth quarter and gets the first down, instead of setting up that fourth-and-1 disaster, the

Eagles probably win, right?

Are we sure this whole micro-fracture thing wasn't some dastardly New York plot to plant a "sleeper agent" in our midst?

OBSCURE STAT

That 145.7 Eli Manning passer rating was the highest of his career, for a full game. Thank heavens the Eagles worked so hard in the offseason to improve their secondary.

EXTRA POINT

Andy Reid explained yesterday why it was that LeSean McCoy, whose 128-yard effort was the second-most-productive of his career, didn't get the ball when the Eagles took four goal-line shots from the Giants' 2.

"Because we called plays that didn't give the ball to him," Reid extrapolated.

If you were wondering, going into Reid's day-after news conference, why the short-yardage plays didn't work, why the Eagles kept pounding up the middle at the goal line when the o-linemen said afterward the Giants were pinching in to stop that sort of approach, well, you are still wondering. Reid stuck around longer yesterday than the 3 minutes, 23 seconds he met with reporters after the game, but he was no more forthcoming.

"We thought that was the way to go," Reid said, when asked about giving fullback Owen Schmitt (!) two cracks at the goal line.

After the postgame hissy, I was expecting a kinder, gentler Andy yesterday. I wasn't expecting any useful explanations, really, but in the wake of previous tough losses, the day-after tone often has been subdued, wanting the fans to stick with him while he works to put players in a better position, etc. But maybe Big Red just doesn't care what anybody thinks anymore; he has a couple of years to win a Super Bowl here or move along, and how he acts toward reporters won't affect anything, at this point.

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