Andy Reid had to follow his gut. On Monday, the head coach of the Eagles told the assembled media that he would be evaluating every aspect of the football team in order to give the 3-3 Eagles their best chance of success in the final 10 games of the season. At some point before Tuesday morning, Reid decided that he needed to make a change at defensive coordinator, dismissing Juan Castillo from the position and promoting then-secondary coach Todd Bowles.
It was Reid's sole decision and he alone informed Castillo of the change early Tuesday.
"I think we all know how much I care about Juan Castillo as a person and as a football coach," Reid said Tuesday." I think he's a good football coach, tremendous football coach, tough worker, has a great family. I know that he's going to do continue to do great things in the National Football League. However, I also have always said that I'm going to do what I think is best for the Philadelphia Eagles and, at this time, I think this move is the best - 3-3 obviously puts you as an average football team and right now I think we're better than that. So, I'm going to do what I think is right to make us better and at this particular time, this is what I feel. I'll continue to go through and evaluate all the situations. Again, I think that's very important that I do so.
"It's tough, one of the tougher things I've had to do, I would tell you that."
The in-season replacement of a defensive coordinator certainly raises a lot questions, beginning with: why now?
"I'm not going to get into specifics," Reid said. "It was how I felt, at this particular time, the things that I think we need to go forward doing. I just wasn't feeling right now. This was my decision and my feel and so on. I've got to trust my instincts on it and as hard as it is, I've got to make sure I do that. That's what it's based on."
Reid originally went on a limb in promoting the former offensive line coach to defensive coordinator in the first place. There was speculation following the 2011 season that Castillo would be replaced, but Reid chose to stay the course because of the positive signs given by the Eagles defense during the team's 4-0 stretch to close the season, during which the defense allowed 11.5 points per game. The defense then began the 2012 in strong fashion, but was unable to hold fourth-quarter leads in each of the last two weeks, including Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions when the defense surrendered 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, allowing points on four of five drives by the Lions offense.
"I put Juan in this situation," Reid said. "Things didn't work out the way I'd hoped here as it finishes up. I take full responsibility for that. I take full responsibility for putting him in that situation. On the other hand of that, if I don't think things are working for the best for the organization at that particular time, I have to be responsible for that too. I've mentioned that to you before on certain players that we've brought here, that I've been responsible for being here, drafted with high picks. I feel the same way here.
"I thought we were making progress. I saw us making progress through the last four games (of 2011). I kind of liked the direction that we were going. I thought we started off pretty good (this season). And then I started seeing some trends come back that I really wasn't happy about and so I just wanted to make sure that we took care of those. There were just things that I saw that I didn't want to go in that direction."
But perhaps the most intriguing question following the surprising Tuesday morning announcement is what's next? In Reid's opening statement, he said that change at defensive coordinator is "one of the moves" as he continues to evaluate the state of the team.
"Please understand this, please understand that offense, defense and special teams right now we need to get better," Reid said. "I'm going to continue to work through that. It's my responsibility to do that. I'm just bringing this to you because this is what's happened so far. I'm not going to tell you anything's going to happen past this or will happen, but this is what's happened so far. I told you I'd be upfront with you. I'm upfront with you here and making sure that you understand.
"At that particular time, I had not made any moves. I haven't made any moves other than this. I'm telling you upfront that this is what I've done up to this point. Am I still evaluating? I'm still evaluating."
Along those lines, Reid was asked about
"As I sit here today, he is the starting quarterback," Reid said. "I look at all of the turnovers, go through them and analyze them.
"Right now, Michael is the starting quarterback."
Finally, Reid was asked if the decision to replace Castillo with Bowles has anything to do with outside speculation that his job as head coach is on the line.
"If you ask all football coaches in the National Football League, they're going to tell you that that's what you do," he said. "You fight to win football games as a football team. You try to make your football team the best that it can be. You try to better yourself every day. You want your coaches to better themselves every day. You want your players to hope you have an influence on helping them become the best they can be. That's my job. That's how I go about doing it."
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