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Firing Juan Castillo Doesn’t Fix Eagles’ Real Problems

Oct 16, 2012, 12:59 PM EDT

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There are a lot of numbers being thrown around today. Here are two you may not have heard yet: 54 seconds and 23 yards.

54 seconds is the amount of time the Eagles’ offense managed to eat up while clinging to a three-point lead on their final possession of the fourth quarter on Sunday. 23 yards is all the distance the Lions needed to travel to kick a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Say what you will about Juan Castillo. The decision to promote him to defensive coordinator may not have been the wisest. Maybe he truly was in over his head. Either way, his firing on Tuesday morning was the very definition of scapegoating.

There is no disputing that his defense’s performance over the final 19 minutes on Sunday was a disgrace, as they allowed 20 points in their opponent’s final five possessions. To say the offense didn’t have a big hand in the collapse would be completely false though.

Marty Mornhinweg gift-wrapped a Lions fourth-quarter comeback when he called not one, but two clock-killing plays on a drive in the final minutes that did not produce a single first down. Michael Vick put a bow on the victory when he went backwards and lost 21 yards in the extra period, forcing the Eagles to punt from the back of their own end zone.

Vick’s three turnovers didn’t help matters either, one of which was an interception where he missed badly on an opportunity to hit DeSean Jackson deep for six.

Or we can go back to last week in Pittsburgh, where the Eagles held the Steelers to 16 total points in their building, where Vick lost two fumbles, one on the goal line. We can all count. Those points would’ve helped.

So while it’s become fashionable to point out the defense has blown seven fourth-quarter leads under Castillo in 22 games, what always seems to get lost in that statistic is the anatomy of the comeback. We dissected the five meltdowns in 2011, and found many of the same extenuating circumstances existed on offense and special teams — surrendering field position, giving the ball away, and leaving points on the field.

All anybody might choose to remember is the defense had a chance to put a lid on some (not necessarily all) of those games in the end. Regardless, the fact is Juan Castillo did not lose these games — the Eagles lost them.

Which is why the cycle will not end with Todd Bowles’ ascension to defensive coordinator. Philadelphia’s defense is allowing 18.8 points per game. The offense is scoring 17.2 points per game, and has turned the ball over an astounding 17 times. How is this change going to correct that?

The simple answer is it’s not. It’s a rare desperation move by Andy Reid that does nothing to address the true problems his team has. The defense? Ha. That was the least of my worries heading into this bye week.