Ravens consultant Juan Castillo reflects on departure from Eagles

SCOTT HALLERAN / GETTY IMAGES Workmen put finishing touches on a Superdome sign as they prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl.
SCOTT HALLERAN / GETTY IMAGES Workmen put finishing touches on a Superdome sign as they prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl.
Posted: January 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - The bags under Juan Castillo's eyes still look heavy enough to require an extra fee at the airline check-in counter.

Castillo ought to be happy in his new consulting gig with the Baltimore Ravens; he's here at the Super Bowl, and will assume the title of running-game coordinator for next season. In fact, Castillo is happy, or at least grateful, but like the rest of us, he's still a little traumatized by the final days of the decline of the Andy Reid empire in Philadelphia.

Castillo worked for the Eagles from 1995 until last Oct. 16, was famous for putting in long hours. He was a well-regarded offensive- line coach for 13 years, then was tabbed to run the defense. That lasted 22 up-and-down games. But as much as Castillo, 53, seemed to struggle with late-game adjustments, it's also true that the Eagles' defense got much worse after he was banished in favor of Todd Bowles. Now Bowles is running the defense in Arizona, Reid is in Kansas City, and Castillo has a purple raven on his shirt.

"I don't know that I've ever been through anything so hard in my life," Castillo said, when asked about the weeks following his dismissal, Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. Castillo hadn't talked extensively since his firing. "Part of that is just that you keep going back and forth, 'What could I have done better,' things like that. I think what was awesome was the response from different coaches . . . 'til that happens to you, you don't really know what kind of reputation you have, what people really think of your body of work."

Castillo didn't want to talk about what happened to the defense after he left, as the Eagles fell from 3-3 to 4-12.

"What was hard was that I wasn't there to help somebody that I respect and love fight for his job," Castillo said. "That's what was hard."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who was a Reid assistant with the Eagles alongside Castillo for 9 years, announced the hire last week and made a point of saying Castillo turned down other opportunities. Castillo said Tuesday that one of those was with Reid in KC.

"He offered me assistant head coach. I think it's just better for me and coach" to be in different situations right now, Castillo said. "One day I'll come back to him. Coach and I are good friends."

Castillo hasn't wavered from his idea that he can coach defense effectively. "If you're an offensive coach, you have to understand defense . . . Good coaches understand both. Good coaches can teach both," he said.

He said one of the opportunities he had in recent weeks was on defense, but "the thing that I decided, perception's hard to beat. I don't know that I can beat you [media] guys, you know? It might be better that I go with what I'm perceived to be the best at. Y'all are tough to beat, man.

"What you find out in the NFL is, if you can get through a coaching position, whether it's o-line, linebackers, or defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, if you can do it for 5 or 6 years, where you can prove yourself, then you're always going to have a job," Castillo said. "When I looked at it, said, 'OK, can I get that kind of time, will I be given that opportunity to do that [on defense]?' I'm not sure that I would, so I decided to go back to offense, and maybe one day I'll be an offensive coordinator."

Right now with the Ravens, Castillo said he is "just breaking down tape, making cutups" for teaching purposes. "When they ask me about some technique things, I'll help on the field. [Offensive-line coach Andy Moeller] might say, 'Juan go work with the tackles and do this.' "

The running-game coordinator thing was part of what he did as o-line coach with the Eagles, Castillo said.

"I took care of the runs and the protection" without having a specific title for that, he said.

Harbaugh was asked Monday about Castillo's involvement in Super Bowl preparations.

"He's got another set of eyes on the game plan and is working with our players a little bit. He'll play a role for us," he said.

One of the most corrosive stories that surrounded the Eagles' collapse emerged after defensive- line coach Jim Washburn was dismissed Dec. 3. An unnamed player was quoted as saying Washburn referred to Castillo as "Juanita." The implication was that the d-line coach belittled his coordinator in front of the players.

"There's a lot of things in meetings, [people] play around . . . I'm not sure if 'jest' is the right word . . . sometimes you say things and you're just playing," Castillo said Tuesday. "I know this: When they left me go, all the d-linemen called me. I thought that I had that respect.

"I respect Jim as a coach, and I think he respects me as a coach."

Last week at the Senior Bowl, Washburn, who was in the process of being hired as an assistant with the Lions, said he maintains cordial relations with Castillo, something Castillo confirmed Tuesday; he said Washburn told him about Washburn's opportunity to coach with his son, Jeremiah, the Lions' o-line coach.

Castillo said he'll be moving his family to Maryland, after all those years in Philly.

"Being an Eagle for so long, I thought that was what I was forever," he said. "Having to get rid of all the [gear], I gave it to the homeless and people like that, they needed it, but that was hard."

On Twitter: @LesBowen

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