Going against the tide, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came out in support of the recently-fired Juan Castillo.
While several players on defense have used Castillo’s ousting as an excuse to question his credentials or his late-game play-calling, Rodgers-Cromartie credited the former Eagles defensive coordinator with turning him into more of a press cornerback.
Rodgers-Cromartie defended Castillo, criticized some of his teammate’s finger-pointing and said that he didn't think the Eagles needed to make a change at defensive coordinator.
“That’s what you’re going to say when things seem to go bad. You’re going to pinpoint something,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of other defensive players focusing on Castillo. “I don’t feel that way. If you look at statistics we’re still in the top. … That was a decision that was made. I can’t do nothing about it. But ain’t see no problem.”
The Eagles defense is ranked 12th in the NFL in total yards and 11th in points heading into Sunday's game against the Falcons. But Castillo’s unit coughed up fourth quarter leads in the last two games -- a resurfacing of a problem that plagued the defense through much of last season.
Defensive end Brandon Graham said on Wednesday that the defensive play-calling in the fourth quarter was predictable and that Castillo was not using a number of schemes that were being practiced on during the week.
Rodgers-Cromartie said that too much blame was being pinned to the departed Castillo.
“I feel like every man should be accountable for themself,” he said. “In life, anytime things go wrong it’s easy to say, ‘Well, he did this and he did that,’ instead of saying, ‘I did this, I did that.’”
When Rodgers-Cromartie was traded to the Eagles in July of 2011 he came billed as an “off corner” in the Asante Samuel mold. He did play some press defense in Arizona, but Rodgers-Cromartie said that it was Castillo that “made me into a press corner.”
“That was Juan’s whole idea – to get up there and disrupt timing,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “Just looking at film it worked, so I stuck with it.”
The fifth-year corner leads the Eagles with three interceptions this season. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the seventh-best cover corner in the league. Rodgers-Cromartie, who had new coordinator Juan Castillo as his position coach this season, said that Castillo deserved a lot of the credit.
“No question. He changed my game,” he said. “He brought me to the press corner. He’s one of those guys that takes the time with you and let’s you understand a weakness in your game and keep you after practice and make you work on it.”
Rodgers-Cromartie also disputed the notion that Castillo had very little sway over the entire defense, especially the Jim Washburn-led line.
“Juan played a major part in every position – from the d-line to the linebackers to he always trying to keep guys after practice and make them work,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.