How Was This Supposed to Have Worked?
Posted by Derek
After the initial Castillo hiring bombshell, I tried to make sense of Andy's thinking. Clearly he hadn't gone out and looked for the guy who was most likely to succeed while coaching this defense. If he had, he'd have hired, you know, a guy who knew how to coach defense.
I eventually settled on three possible justifications:
1) Reid thought Castillo could function as a "head coach of the defense" if they signed enough veteran talent and experienced position coaches.
2) Reid worried about the impact of the lockout on scheme installations and decided he didn't want to bring someone in who would make too many changes in terminology, etc. And unfortunately JJ's former assistants all have jobs (or had just been fired by Andy).
3) Reid wanted to put Castillo on the Harbaugh Plan, where a guy in a dead-end coaching job gets moved somewhere else as a transitional step towards being hired away as a head coach.
As usual, no one outside the inner circle has any idea what Reid was actually thinking, but if you're looking for explanations that go beyond, "What kind of idiot hires an offensive line coach to be his defensive coordinator?" I think these are where you start.
So let's unpack these ideas for a minute.
Explanation #1 has clearly been wrong. Turns out, you need a defensive coordinator who can make solid playcalls and adjust on the fly as the other team starts to figure out all the stuff you spent a week planning.
And the worst part isn't what has happened to this point. The Eagles could easily win their next two games and be sitting, at worst, 2.5 games out of first in the division. The errors so far have been devastating, but not fatal.
The problem is that now we know that our lack of defensive coaching is going to burn us at the end. We might have enough talent to muddle through the next 12 weeks, but as we've seen so many times before, everything gets harder once the playoffs start. Do you really believe -- really, really believe -- that Juan Castillo will be able to hold his own in matchups against, for example, Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy and whoever is nominally in charge of the Patriots' offense?
Yeah, me either.
Moving on to number two, I think we've now learned that taking the JJ defense, stripping out all the complicated stuff that made it so hard to coach against, and then grafting on a front four approach that's completely different than anything Johnson ever ran may have been, in retrospect, even harder to pull off than just installing a completely new defense that at the very least had front, middle and back concepts that evolved together.
Furthermore, if this season turns into one of those train wreck campaigns, we'll have wasted a year. Because clearly Castillo won't be back and Reid might be one step behind him. So now we'll have to go through the whole new scheme thing again next summer.
Number three is just sad.