HALL OF FAME cornerback Darrell Green played with both Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles. Green said yesterday he thinks they will work together well on the Eagles' defensive staff.

"I think Todd will bring great value to an underachieving secondary," said Green, a Redskins great. "This may be the missing link, from a defensive standpoint. These are two good people. These guys have worked their butts off, and I pray nobody tries to pit them against each other. That wouldn't be fair to either of them."

Bowles, 48, Green's teammate for seven seasons in the Washington secondary, yesterday was named the Eagles' secondary coach. He comes to the Birds fresh from a three-game stint as the Dolphins' interim head coach, following the firing of Tony Sparano, and from a couple of head-coaching interviews for jobs that eventually went to other candidates.

Bowles, who began the season as assistant head coach-defensive backs in Miami, would seem to be the most high-profile head-coaching candidate ever to sign on to coach Andy Reid's staff, at a time when Reid is perceived to be in a win-or-else situation. Bowles has a much more extensive NFL defensive coaching background - with the Jets, Browns, Cowboys and Dolphins - than Castillo, the former Eagles offensive-line coach he was hired to assist. In fact, the Eagles reportedly wanted to talk to Bowles about their coordinator job last year, but were denied permission by the Dolphins, before they promoted Castillo.

Yesterday's announcement ended the uncertainty over whether Castillo will return as coordinator. The Eagles are believed to have approached Steve Spagnuolo about a role on their staff - possibly replacing Castillo, possibly above him - before Spagnuolo signed on as the Saints' defensive coordinator. Reid dismissed cornerbacks coach Johnnie Lynn at the end of the season, then delayed his season wrapup news conference while he tweaked his staff. Reid is scheduled to finally speak with reporters today at noon.

Green said he didn't think Bowles, a Temple product from Elizabeth, N.J., would have any trouble fitting into the Eagles' hierarchy.

"That gets down to integrity - who did mama raise?" Green said. "These are solid men" who have spent many years working for other coaches, gaining a reputation for loyalty and steadiness. "You can't fake that," Green said.

Former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly agreed.

"Todd can adapt to a lot of things. He's an experienced defensive coach who relates well with players, a smart guy who has worked in a lot of systems," said Casserly, who was Washington's assistant GM when Bowles arrived as an undrafted safety from Temple in 1986. "This guy's a good coach."

Casserly said two things stood out about Bowles as a player: "There was his intelligence - he called the signals for our defense, which was very complex. And he was hungry, he wanted it bad."

Green said something similar about Castillo, who was a linebacker at Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) for Green's first two seasons there. Castillo was an assistant coach Green's senior year.

"I remember a hard-nosed guy who never forgot where he came from," Green said of Castillo. "I know when the doors open at the practice facility, he's there, and when the doors close, he's still there. He brings great passion every day, great commitment."

Green followed the Eagles' season and said he thinks "it wasn't Juan's fault" that the Eagles missed the playoffs. They finished eighth in overall defense, which is based on yardage, but gave up 27 touchdown passes despite the presence of three past Pro Bowl performers at cornerback. They ranked 30th in red-zone defense.

"You have to look at the whole body of work," Green said. "I know defense, and that defense came together. I think they're poised for great success. They started to click, and they'll click right on into next season . . . People there should get excited" about Bowles completing the defensive staff.

The Eagles did not make Bowles available yesterday, and he is not scheduled to be part of today's news conference. But people from Bowles' past were available to talk about him.

"Todd started as a rookie because he was a coach on the field," Green recalled. "He was gifted that way; he was a guy who was a thinker."

Another former NFL cornerback, Anthony Henry, played for Bowles in Cleveland and Dallas. He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2005 at least in part because Bowles was there, he said.

Henry, now retired in the Dallas area, said Bowles has a talent for "tapping in on what each player is good at, and bringing that together" into a coherent coverage plan for the secondary. "Guys feel comfortable with their roles and the scheme," Henry said - something that wasn't always true for the Eagles last season.

Henry said Bowles' voice was respected in Dallas across the defense, not just in the secondary. He said Bowles' style was laid-back enough that players felt free to come in and talk to him about coverages they felt had worked well for them in the past, that he should consider, but he "did get fiery" if a plan wasn't being executed properly. He added that Bowles is not "a big yeller or cuss-out guy."

Bowles played for the Redskins from 1986-90, starting for the Super Bowl XXII winners, was a 49er in 1991, and finished up back with the Redskins in 1992-93. He joined Green Bay's personnel staff in 1995-96, when Reid was an assistant coach there. Then Bowles coached at Morehouse and Grambling before getting his first NFL job, coaching defensive backs with the Jets in 2000. He coached in Cleveland from 2001-2004, then in Dallas from 2005-2007. He left the Cowboys for Miami, along with Bill Parcells.

Bowles was 2-1 as the interim head coach after Sparano was dismissed, and was a finalist for the job that eventually went to Joe Philbin. He also interviewed in Oakland, which hired Dennis Allen.

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.

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