Bob Ford: If you are keeping score, Andy Reid is 0-for-Castillo

Posted: October 17, 2012

If this were a television show, an old-fashioned prime time drama with car crashes and lots of orchestra music, then that would be Andy Reid emerging from the operating room on Tuesday, stripping the bloody gloves from his hands to deliver a quick report on how the operation was proceeding.

It's still touch-and-go, mind you, and there's a lot of cutting and sewing left, a long way before the patient is wheeled into recovery, but here's how it looks now: We lost Juan.

"I'm just bringing this to you because this is what's happened so far," the real Andy Reid said on Tuesday, offering up his decision to fire defensive coordinator Juan Castillo as a news bulletin before returning to the task of overhauling the Eagles.

Reid didn't mention how far down the checklist he got before Castillo popped up, or how many departments are still quavering beneath the blade of his terrible swift sword, but he did say the evaluation started with himself and that part went fine.

"I'm always going to trust myself. I understand that not every [decision] is going to work," Reid said. "I admit that, but I'm also going to tell you that I think [a] percentage of them, they do work. That's my job and [I'm] supposedly an expert at that . . . sometimes the risk is going to work out for you in a big way. Sometimes, it ends like this here."

There's no question that a percentage of Reid's strategies work out. The only debating point would be the exact number to place on that percentage. He's taken a lot of risks and won a lot of football games, so it isn't like he's 0-for-life. He is, however, 0-for-Castillo.

In some ways, it would be easy to look at Tuesday's firing of Castillo as the first twig that snaps in the forest and all the deer pick up their heads and know it's about time to take a chance on crossing the highway. Reid has never made an in-season coaching change, and has never had to admit to a gaffe this large.

Whiffing on Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator doesn't even compare, because promoting McDermott to that position made perfect sense. He had been on the defensive side of the ball in the organization for years. He had worked under Jim Johnson for many seasons. McDermott was a reasonable choice, but he proved to be overmatched. Ok, fine.

That's far different from making the head-scratching move of switching an offensive line coach to the role of defensive coordinator, and then turning the whole thing into a game of 3-D chess by also bringing in an autocratic defensive line coach whose philosophy would make things tough for a real coordinator. That miscalculation is the kind that gets a head coach fired really quickly.

But Tuesday wasn't the first twig or the beginning of the end for Andy Reid in Philadelphia, if we are, in fact, watching that process unfurl. It is somewhere around the middle of the end. And it's also not all Reid's fault. It's not all Castillo's fault. What we are seeing is an organizational failing that has finally reached its critical mass.

If you wish, the stage was set for Tuesday's press conference when the Eagles took safety Jaiquawn Jarrett with a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. That was a bad mistake - and far from the only one in the drafts run by new general manager Howie Roseman - and it led, in part, to the Eagles being woefully thin at the safety position after Jarrett was cut this year.

On Sunday against the Lions, playing behind safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, were Colt Anderson, a guy who is useful on special teams, and rookie David Sims, who hasn't been on the field with the defense.

When the organization is approximately $20 million under the salary cap - if not the highest figure in the league, then very close - it is fair to ask if the reserves on the roster are as good as they need to be in the event of injury to a starter. Or are they just cost-effective?

The game will give you the answer sometimes. Allen strained a hamstring, had to leave the field, and Anderson replaced him. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Eagles having taken a 10-point lead, the Lions began their comeback with a 57-yard pass to Tony Scheffler that set up a touchdown. Dime cornerback Brandon Hughes was left out to dry on that one because the safety help never arrived.

What does it mean? It means if the Eagles backup safety read the play properly and helped bat down the pass, then Juan Castillo is still the defensive coordinator.

So, yeah, Castillo was probably over his head, but firing him is just ornamental pruning on a tree that is about to fall over. The roster isn't good enough, the front office is still convinced - on very little evidence - of its own genius, the offensive line is a danger to itself and others (see, above: quality of reserves), and the quarterback position, where a multi-tooled weapon is foolishly miscast as a pocket passer, might be the biggest problem of all.

Reid said Michael Vick was still the starter, "as I sit here," which is the same endorsement he gave Castillo as coordinator on Monday.

"I try to evaluate it all," he said. "It takes time."

And with that, he went back into the operating room to deal with the next stage of the procedure. It might be too late to really save the patient, but maybe he can keep the doctor around.


Contact columnist Bob Ford at bford@phillynews.com, read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns, and follow @bobfordsports on Twitter.

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