One man’s failure could save another man’s job. Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network reported that, essentially, the Eagles do not plan on firing Andy Reid after this season unless he doesn’t want to fire current defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
Enter the 2-10 St. Louis Rams. There is a decent chance that the Rams end up firing head coach Steve Spagnuolo after this season and now there are rumors that support that notion.
Spagnuolo has compiled a dreadful 10-34 record since taking over the Rams in 2009 and the team has shown no signs of progress.
Common practice in the NFL is that teams want to see either results, or at least an upward trend, for their team by the third year of a new head coach’s regime. Unfortunately for Spagnuolo, but potentially fortunate for Eagles fans, the Rams have seen neither.
Spags could be given a fourth year in St. Louis if they decide that injuries were what derailed the Rams’ 2011 season. However, there is no denying that the Rams are just a bad football team right now, injuries or not.
Therefore, chances are that Spags gets the axe come January.
Bad head coaching record aside, Spagnuolo was tremendous as a defensive coordinator with the New York Giants for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Spagnuolo came to the Eagles in 1999 as part of Andy Reid’s initial staff. He worked under Jim Johnson as an assistant coach and worked his way up from defensive assistant to defensive backs coach, and then to linebackers coach.
In 2006, when Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress took the head coaching job in Minnesota, he wanted Spagnuolo as his defensive coordinator. However, Andy Reid refused to let him out of his contract in Philadelphia.
Reid wasn’t trying to be “mean”, he just recognized that Spagnuolo was a good, ascending coach and didn’t want to lose him yet.
The following year, in 2007, Reid did have to let him go once the New York Giants came calling and hired Spags as their defensive coordinator.
Spags took over a Giants defense that ranked 25th in the NFL in 2006. In his first season as the head man on defense, he improved the unit all the way up to a No. 7 ranking, including an NFL-best 53 sacks.
Spagnuolo’s inaugural season as defensive coordinator culminated with a Super Bowl victory in which his defense shut down the explosive, and then undefeated, New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Quite a rookie debut, I’d say.
Spagnuolo kept the Giants’ defense playing at a high level in 2008 and ended the season as the No. 5 ranked defense. Two stellar seasons as a coordinator catapulted him into a head coaching job for the St. Louis Rams.
However, as fast as he ascended up the ranks, his success appears to have petered out in St. Louis.
Some coaches are just meant to be coordinators rather than head coaches. That’s not a bad thing, there are many good coaches at the coordinator level but just can’t seem to make the step to be the head guy.
So, if Spagnuolo ends up getting fired after this season, he will likely be highly sought after as a defensive coordinator again. Andy Reid should be one of the guys in line trying to convince him to come back to Philly.
Spags is a guy who can get his players fired up and ready to go. He’s a great motivator, which is exactly what this Eagles defense needs.
The players would respect him and buy into his scheme because he’s proven (as a coordinator) and he knows defense; two things we can’t say about Juan Castillo.
However, hiring Spags could be a moot point if Reid decides to view his need for a new defensive coordinator the same way he views the need for linebackers.
As Jason La Canfora also reported, if Reid decides that he doesn’t want to fire Castillo, things could get “dicey” in the Eagles’ organization. What he means is that, if Reid doesn’t replace Castillo, he very well may get fired.
So, there’s a chance that Reid will dig his own grave by being stubborn and not admitting his mistake in hiring Castillo in the first place.
I could see it going either way. Reid is a smart man but he is also stubborn. It will depend on how he truly feels after this season.
If he thinks that Castillo did a good job and deserves to return as defensive coordinator, or if he thinks he “owes” it to Castillo to give him one more year, Reid could find himself out of a job.
In this sense, it would basically be the notion that Reid would rather get fired than feel like he did an injustice to Castillo by letting him be the scapegoat.
Alternately, or more accurately, he could also realize that having Castillo as coordinator is not in the best interest of the football team.
Hiring Castillo was arguably the biggest mistake of Reid’s entire career. Will he “take full responsibility” for that, as he so often says, or will he ignore the obvious because he’s to arrogant to admit it?
At the least, it seems he will be given a chance to rectify this particular situation after the season is over. What he decides is anyone’s guess right now.
But to me it’s a no-brainer; if Steve Spagnuolo is on the market, he should be the No. 1 priority on Reid’s list.