Castillo on Changes: It's Still Monday

Juan Castillo said that rookie linebacker Casey Matthews graded reasonably well on Sunday. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The bags under Juan Castillo's eyes looked deeper than the holes Eli Manning exploited in Castillo's defense during the Eagles' 29-16 Sunday loss to the New York Giants.

No, he hadn't yet been to sleep, the defensive coordinator said this afternoon. No, he probably wasn't going to make wholesale personnel changes in a defense that gave up four passing touchdowns for the second week in a row, and two fourth-quarter TDs that turned a lead into a loss, for the second week in a row.

Neither Castillo nor Eagles coach Andy Reid pledged to keep rookie Casey Matthews in the starting lineup; Castillo allowed that rookie nickel linebacker Brian Rolle is playing well. But Castillo said that after the huge play-action mistake on the Giants' first touchdown, Matthews graded reasonably well.

A couple of times, Castillo responded to questions about possible changes with "it's still Monday." The team doesn't practice until Wednesday. A few tweaks are certainly possible.

Castillo's message was what you might expect: Stay the course, work hard, let the new components assimilate into the defense. Set a tone from the top that this is not chaos, that Castillo is in control and he knows what he's doing (even more as people outside the team call that last part into question).

"I''m gonna succeed," Castillo said, "For Coach Reid, for the city, and for my family."

"If you keep working hard, sooner or later, those plays are going to start happening for us," the former offensive line coach said. "They will; they always have in the past. Our guys, they're playing hard ... We gave up two big plays (early in the game), came back and we were really playing really well. The thing is, you've got to finish the game. We gotta finish the game."

Castillo talked before the season about how important the fourth quarter would be early on, before everybody got all the post lockout kinks worked out. Castillo brought that up because he thought his team, with its depth in the d-line and the secondary, would be ready to outlast opponents. The opposite has happened the past two weeks.

Castillo said he is looking at whether his players are getting worn down, searching for reasons why it is they seem to be in the right position -- as Nnamdi Asomugha and Jarrad Page were on the gamewinning fourth-quarter TD pass to Victor Cruz -- but aren't making the plays late.

"Extra film work. Extra drills after practice -- we'll stay after practice this week. We have a couple things that we're going to work on with the guys," Castillo said.

Castillo was asked if he is convinced he has the personnel on hand to succeed. A little while earlier, Reid had been asked the same question, limited specifically to linebackers and safeties, and he'd mumbled something about working harder.

"Yes," Castillo said. "Part of it is they all get to learn, get to get used to playing with each other, too. Understanding how each one does a certain thing -- it's a feel. The longer we're together, the better that will be."

  "This is an opportunity, this is a challenge, this is a job. We're all men. We all have had challenges before. So, come on, let's go. You don't panic. You have a plan. We believe in our plan."