Talk surrounds Castillo's fate

Defensive players said they are behind their coordinator, whose unit struggled early on.

Posted: January 02, 2012

What about Juan?

With Andy Reid's return next season likely, the most important order of business appears to be whether Juan Castillo returns as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.

Reid declined to answer any questions about his own status or that of any coach or player, but he was asked about Castillo's performance during the Eagles' four-game, season-ending winning streak that culminated with a 34-10 win over the Redskins on Sunday.

"I think he did a nice job," Reid said. "The defense played strong, and I thought he was proud of his coaches and players."

Given the opportunity to endorse Castillo's return the last two Mondays, Reid summed up his feelings by saying to reporters: "You all know how I feel about Juan." Indeed, but the final decision may not be Reid's.

There was a report last month that Reid would have to fire Castillo if he wanted to retain his job. That was followed by another report last week that it was "all but certain" that Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, a former Reid assistant, would be the Eagles' next defensive coordinator.

Reid declined to address the report then, only to say he hadn't gone there. But Spagnuolo, who was reportedly out in St. Louis after Sunday's games, may be on the market.

Castillo was not made available for comment after the game. Because reporters were primed to ask him about his future and not the victory over Washington, a spokesman said the team decided against having Castillo answer questions.

Reporters and fans aren't the only ones unsure of Castillo's standing with the Eagles. Many players were asking about what fate awaits the former offensive line coach that was shockingly named defensive coordinator following Sean McDermott's firing last year.

"I don't know what the people in charge will be looking at," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "I think that as the season progressed we all started to get more comfortable and better. [Castillo] started to figure what works in the NFL and what doesn't."

Many have pinned the defense's failures this season - they surrendered five fourth-quarter leads at one point - not on Castillo but on Reid. It was the head coach, after all, who put a novice in charge of his defense before the NFL lockout knocked out most of spring practices.

"Some guys lose sight of the fact that he had never done this before at any level," Asomugha said. "He was an offensive line coach, so it wasn't going to be as easy a transition we would have hoped."

Castillo was also essentially saddled with a defensive-line scheme - the wide nine - that, while successful, exposed holes at linebacker and safety. All of several defensive players polled following the game said they wanted to see Castillo back.

"He's put us in position to win a whole season," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "It's not just these last four games. It's a matter of players being able to step up and make the plays when asked, and we weren't doing that early on in the season."

Last season, the day after the Eagles lost to Green Bay in the playoffs, Reid was asked if he was bringing McDermott back. He said he was. Three days later, he fired him. This year, Reid won't meet with reporters on Monday, likely in part to save himself that kind of embarrassment should Castillo be let go.

Asked if Castillo's learning curve had anything to do with the Eagles' missing the playoffs Reid said: "I'll go back, and I'll look at all of that."

The next few days of evaluations could decide Castillo's fortunes.


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.

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