Andy Reid may be causing more harm to his team by allowing the status of his defensive coordinator to be unknown. Reid has yet to give his customary end-of-season press conference where he will presumably address whether or not Juan Castillo will remain in his current role.
The logical reasoning that he hasn’t held his press conference is because he is waiting to see about a potential new defensive coordinator. If he ends up just sticking with Castillo, he may be indirectly damaging Castillo’s reputation with the players.
In a way, Reid is disrespecting Castillo, although I’m sure it’s not with a malicious intent. However, his silence about the topic infers that he wants a new DC and is waiting to see how things pan out with his preferred replacement(s).
In doing what he should be thinking is in the best interest of the football team, he’s also hanging Castillo out to dry.
Over the course of this past season, I often spoke about the importance of players needing to believe in the system they’re playing in. For the better part of the year, the defensive players appeared to be confused and not confident in what they were being asked to do.
Players like Nnamdi Asomugha alluded to that as well during the course of the season.
Then recently, former running back Brian Westbrook did an interview on Comcast Sportsnet where he stated the players didn’t believe in the system and that “they lost a lot of confidence in Castillo throughout the year (but gained some at the end).”
Players absolutely need to believe in the system for it to work. That means they need to respect and be “all in” for their coach. They may have started to gain some of that towards the end of the season or maybe that is what they want to believe since they won the last four games.
At the end of the season, the defensive players sounded a little mixed when asked about Castillo. Here are a few quotes obtained from an article by Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com:
Here’s Trent Cole when asked about Castillo: “When you have a season like this, changes are going to be made. But regardless, this is the NFL, this is our job. We have to do what we’ve got to do. And whatever happens, just keep moving forward.”
And here’s Nate Allen asked about Castillo: “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but regardless of who stays and who goes, we’ve got to keep rolling. That’s the way this league is. Anytime, anybody could be here for the last time. We don’t know.”
That sounds like the players have some doubt about whether or not Castillo will still be their defensive coordinator next season. And that doubt would have to stem from their impressions of the job Castillo did this season.
Also obtained in that same article, is a quote from Andy Reid when he was asked about Castillo:
Asked directly two weeks ago whether Castillo would return in 2012, Reid said, “You guys know what I think of Juan. I know you have to ask that question, but we are focused completely on the Washington Redskins,” and added, “The last how many games he’s done a heck of a job.”
That is classic Andy Reid and his way of not really answering a direct question when he doesn’t have an affirmative answer.
Then, you add on the following quote from Jeff Lurie when asked during his press conference about Castillo (also obtained from the Reuben Frank article):
“Anyone who’s known this man for 17, 18 years as we all have, incredibly impressive man, incredible family, incredible coach,” Lurie said. “And was he put into a situation where he couldn’t succeed early in the season? That’s for us all to have answers to. … I have a lot of respect for Juan, but it’s a complicated process when you’re going through that [evaluation].”
All of this indicates that the Eagles are most likely looking for a new defensive coordinator. But what if they don’t find one?
This is where the problem is. If they don’t find a viable replacement, which should be an experienced and proven coordinator, they will have to stick with Castillo.
And if they do that, what kind of message does that send to the players he will be coaching? Basically, it says “we couldn’t find anyone better, so we decided to keep him.”
Can the players respect that? Can they buy into his scheme 100%? Will they go into next year with doubts in the back of their minds about their coach? And will that ultimately affect their play?
And now, thanks the Jeff Lurie, everybody knows that Castillo wasn’t their first choice last year either. So he could become “sloppy seconds” two years in a row.
This is the harm Andy Reid could be doing to his team. You can’t have players who view a coach as anything less than the best guy for the job. If they don’t, doubt will naturally creep in their minds.
But again, this is another Andy Reid problem. He’s compounding on the mistake he made last year by putting Castillo in this position to begin with.
How must Castillo feel about all this? He might “understand” and is taking a professional approach to the whole situation, but the human side of him has to feel a little embarrassed or humiliated.
Remember last offseason when Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross aggressively pursued Jim Harbaugh to be his head coach? He did that while his then current head coach, Tony Sparano, was still under contract.
That was a serious lack of respect in my book. What Reid is doing with Castillo is along those same lines, even though he’s not openly interviewing DC candidates before firing his current one.
If Castillo ends up remaining as the defensive coordinator, I hope the players choose to rally behind him…even if it’s because they “felt bad for him.” But who knows how they’ll react when push comes to shove. He could easily become a scapegoat for them in order to hide their own deficiencies, i.e., the “I wasn’t used properly” defense.
Either way, Reid needs to make this decision ASAP. If Castillo stays, it would undoubtedly have been better had he just stated that from the beginning.
All along I’ve felt that, unless we can get a top-notch DC in here, we should just stick with Castillo. However, at this point, I’m losing confidence in how much confidence the Eagles would really have in him.