First reaction: stunned.
I am not surprised that Juan Castillo is not calling the defenses for the Eagles anymore -- and especially not after cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha openly criticized schematic decisions at the end of the Eagles' collapse on Sunday against the Lions. But I figured head coach Andy Reid would protect Castillo, leaving him in place and having secondary coach Todd Bowles begin calling the defenses from the press box. That way, Castillo could continue to wear the headset on the sidelines and relay the information to the players and save face. But no.
Yes, stunning. Castillo is out and Bowles is the defensive coordinator. A year and a half after the world guffawed in Reid's face when he turned his offensive line coach into a defensive coordinator, and months after he flirted with the idea of making a change and giving the job to Steve Spagnuolo -- which would have happened had Spagnuolo said yes -- Reid is very publicly admitting a grievous error. There is no other way to read this.
All of the talk about how things were turned around at the end of last season was just that, apparently -- talk. And any benefit of the doubt that Castillo received after this defense got off to such a good start in 2012 also evaporated pretty quickly. This kind of in-season change happens very rarely in the NFL -- and it is hard to remember a coordinator who was fired from a .500 team with overall defensive numbers that are not alarming.
But the trend obviously was. I have said all along that while we all had our suspicions, it was hard to really know about Castillo because none of us are inside the process, and because they did get better in the second half of last season, and because the defense has been pretty stingy overall in 2012.
But now we know, after two late-game losses, two more blown leads at the end, that Reid feels compelled to make the kind of in-season move that he has never been pushed to make before. He fired himself as the play-caller once during the bye week, but this is different. And it is desperate.
With that, mark down two days:
The day Reid replaced Kevin Kolb with Michael Vick.
The day Reid named Castillo as defensive coordinator.
If this goes badly from here, those are the days that will have gotten Andy Reid fired.
After the Castillo firing was announced, Rich Hofmann discussed the news in a video chat with Noah Coslov of Cinesport.