The questions about how seriously Reid pursued Spagnuolo matter only in that they are the best way of gauging whether Reid truly believed Castillo was his best option for 2012, or whether he settled after other choices were off the table. Reid's extended silence and Castillo's recent refusal to talk about his job hint that the team considered a bigger move.
The bottom line, though, is that Castillo is back and that the only change on a coaching staff that went 8-8 is a new secondary coach, Todd Bowles.
The inexperienced Castillo, a longtime offensive line coach, became a lightning rod for criticism as the Eagles struggled early, but Reid said that he expected it would take time for the defense to "come together" and that he saw "progress" as the season went on.
"You could tell that the players were all in," Reid said, rebutting whispers that veterans didn't buy into the new coordinator's ideas.
Castillo was going to be on the Eagles staff no matter what, Reid said, offering the kind of endorsement he declined to give during the season.
That doesn't necessarily mean Castillo would have still run the defense.
Initially Reid said that he offered Spagnuolo a "place to land," but later hinted that he was more aggressive. He said the two never discussed a specific title.
Spagnuolo, a former Eagles assistant who won a Super Bowl as the Giants' defensive coordinator and then became the Rams' head coach, is now the defensive coordinator for the Saints. His agent, Bob LaMonte, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Instead of Spagnuolo, Reid has Bowles, Miami's interim head coach for three games last season and an NFL assistant since 2000. His experience makes him a good colleague for Castillo to bounce ideas off of, Reid said, but Castillo will stay in charge.
"Juan is a heck of a leader of men," Reid said.
Castillo, after dodging questions about his job at the Senior Bowl, never clearly answered questions about whether he thought his job was in jeopardy, or when he found out he was returning. He said he was simply working and hoped to start faster next season.
While the defense took heavy criticism for losing five fourth-quarter leads, Reid spread the blame around. Those losses, he said, could be partly hung on an offense that scored just three points in those fourth quarters, despite entering the year with fewer question marks.
"I anticipated the offense to be a little ahead of the defense to allow the defense to grow because of the moving parts," Reid said. "We didn't do that. We were 30th in the NFL in turnovers. You can't do that. I'm responsible for both of these things."
Owner Jeffrey Lurie has called last season "unacceptable." Reid agreed.
"Eight-and-eight is not good enough," Reid said. "What he said, I agree with."
But in evaluating his own performance, Reid was encouraged by the team's season-ending four-game win streak.
"If you're stale then that thing never comes to fruition," Reid said. But he added, "You have to take the first five games and you better analyze those babies right there. That was not a good picture."
Speculation is that the pressure is on Reid for 2012, but he would not be drawn into talk about his future.
"We want to win every game," he said. "There's no more pressure than there has been."
Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, email@example.com or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.