Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Castillo Conundrum

I Must Think Harder, Harder, Harder
Nothing quite brins the pain that is being an Eagles fan right now than the fact that... we're going to spend the next 4 to 6 weeks hearing about how much better it is for defensive coordinator Juan Castillo this year, since he's got time to Teach.

You see, it's that old demon lockout that caused Juan to force-feed rookie Casey Matthews into a starting position that he was in no way prepared for. It was the lockout that caused a team with severe linebacker issues to devise a dare to run at us middle run scheme that gave up five yards a pop on QB sneaks. It was the lockout that worked out a defensive coverage scheme that kept three Pro Bowl-level corners off Larry Fitzgerald in the frantic Cardinals' comeback that gift-wrapped a terrible home loss. Lockout, lockout, lockout.

The Eagles' defense should be a lot better in 2012. DeMeco Ryns, Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox should all provide a boost up front, the loss of Asante Samuel isn't that big of a deal given where he is in his career, and they can't have worse safety play. If Nnamdi Asomugha can avoid injuries and thrive in a top CB roll again, rather than as some hybrid TE blanket, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can have a bit of a bounce back and/or make some big plays the other way, they could be all the way up to a top-third outfit. (To become truly elite, Brandon Graham's got to become great out of nowhere, Trent Cole can't get old, and Jason Babin has to maintain his push. Oh, and it would also help loads if the offense stops putting them in bad places with turnovers and fast possessions. So, um, no.)

So Castillo could, somehow, be a much *worse* coach in 2012, and still get better results. This isn't a laboratory where we get to run the test twice while isolating the single variable that is Castillo, and we also don't get to know how much of this mess should be put on Andy Reid or Jim Washburn. Todd Bowles is new to the secondary here, and he did reasonable work in Miami; that's also a potentially huge benefit. The only thing that we really know is that the situation is better now, and if the defense also isn't...

Well, um, we can't even say more than that now, can we?

The Eagles under Reid have become a consequence-free zone from the head coach on down. The only way to lose your job here is to be young and cheap and scapegoatable; stars don't lose their jobs, and neither do coaches. It's just the way things are, and why the last few years have been so little fun.

So, beat writers of the world? Spare us the stories of the Juan Castillo Redemption. We'll pass on the Won't Get Fooled Again push of the last four games of credible defense against terrible teams. This defense could be dominant, and real Eagle Fans won't give Castillo a shred of credit. And they'd be right.

Because in 2011, he ran out defenses that gave up 5 yards a pop on QB sneaks, let Fitzy beat them in the clutch with scrubs covering him, and tried to convince us all that Matthews was a starter. And there's really no recovering from the lost year that resulted from all of that, or just what, exactly, that all represented...

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