Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has had a rollercoaster ride of a first year in his current position.
His defense was maligned early in the season, when the Eagles were ranked 30th against the run and bore a 1-4 record. Since then, Castillo's defense has undergone a transformation.
Going into the final week of the regular season, the Eagles have the eighth-best defense in the league (14th against the run). The team has gone 6-4 since their unfortunate start despite not having quarterback Michael Vick for three of those games.
"I just want to see us keep getting better," said Castillo. "We started slowly and that's obviously not what we wanted. But we're playing now the way we wanted to all season long. We're stopping the run and giving our defensive line a chance to rush; the way we've been able to do that is by playing tight coverage, and we've done that. We've improved a lot since we started the season."
Castillo isn't kidding. In the last three weeks, his defense has allowed the fewest yards in the league, a league-best 133 passing yards per game and a meager 94.7 rushing yards per game.
"Right now we're playing the way we expected to play, but the thing that hurts you is we all wish that we could have started like this," said Castillo. "The way we're playing right now is the way this defense is capable of playing all the time. We're going to keep getting better and keep tweaking things and adding new wrinkles, and you've seen that so far.
"Everybody is starting to understand what we're doing – the first thing is you have to understand the base stuff first before you can even add anything to it, and we're starting to be able to add a little something to it every week because now we can."
With little time in the offseason for Castillo to implement his defensive scheme, these growing pains were all part of the process. Now, he looks forward to seeing what his defense can do to close out the season on Sunday against the Redskins.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider