Juan Castillo still shows up for work every morning at 4 a.m., and when he does, he thinks about Andy Reid, who ensured that Castillo would still have work to show up for, after Castillo's turbulent first season as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.
"I've worked for coach for a lot of years," said Castillo, Reid's offensive line coach from 1999 to last year. "We've not won the Super Bowl, but we've won a lot of games ... I come to work every morning at 4 o'clock. There's a reason I'm coming to work that early, because I want to get it done for coach. It's coach, the organization and the city. That's very important."
Asked about Reid sticking with him when lots of people were predicting Castillo would be fired in the aftermath of an 8-8 season, Castillo said: "You never forget that, as long as you live. You'd take a bullet for him, you know? Just like he does for us."
Castillo has more weapons and more time to teach than he had a year ago. Not surprisingly, though, his message, in his first real media availability of the offseason, as the Eagles' defensive staff met with reporters in the NovaCare cafeteria Tuesday, was not about analyzing or comparing. It was about turning the page.
"Last year's gone," Castillo said. "It's about this year. It's about us getting off to a good start, and starting where we left off last year" when the Eagles won their final four games.
"It's about being able to teach. All the coaches ... when you have four days to teach one coverage, now you're able to break that coverage down vs. different personnel, really teach that coverages, whereas last year, if we had four days, we put almost all our coverages in," Castillo said. " It's a big difference ... It's been good for us as teachers to be able to break everything down."
The biggest change to Castillo's unit is the addition of veteran middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
" 'Meco' is an experienced leader," Castillo said. "Somebody asked me -- has he been yelling? Is he loud in the classroom? No, you know what, he's a professional. The way he carries himself in the classroom. The way he carries himself outside ... right now he's one of our leaders, and we haven't even put on the pads, just by the way he carries himself."