Juan Castillo found his groove as a defensive coordinator late in 2011.
The Eagles allowed just 11.5 points and 265 yards per game in the final four games of the season. The Eagles won all four of those games and the team ranked second in the league in points and yards allowed during that stretch.
This offseason, the Eagles strengthened the defense with the acquisition of Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans and bolstered the depth in the draft by selecting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, defensive end Vinny Curry and cornerback Brandon Boykin.
In addition, Castillo gets something that he didn't have in his rookie year as coordinator - an offseason. Instead of cramming a new defense to a vast assortment of new players in a truncated offseason, Castillo has the benefit of the Organized Team Activities to teach.
With all of the talent that has been assembled on the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles, Castillo knows that the time is now to win.
"I don't think there's ever been an excuse. I think it's time. It's time for us to do what we're here to do. I think everybody knows that," Castillo said. "There's never been any excuses. It's time to get our jobs done."
When the Eagles traded for Ryans in March, his former teammates in Houston lauded his leadership. Even though he's only taken part in offseason conditioning and a week of Organized Team Activities, Ryans has already assumed a leadership role on the Eagles defense.
"He is that guy already," Castillo said. "He's a competitor. He likes challenges. He understands the scheme and the things that we have to do."
The Eagles improved the middle of the defense with Ryans and Cox at defensive tackle, but one area that was left alone this offseason was the safety position. Last year's starters, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, remain at the helm and it's an area that Castillo believes will get better through the players' hard work and increased experience.
"We have safeties here that are good football players and the good thing is that they will continue to get better every day," Castillo said.
Last year, Castillo integrated three Pro Bowl cornerbacks with different playing styles. With Asante Samuel now in Atlanta, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the starters on the outside. The two tall and physical cornerbacks got to start together for the final two games of 2011 which provided a glimpse of what fans will see from the cornerback tandem in 2012 with press coverage on "almost every down."
The Eagles have acquired a bevy of talent over the past two years on defense. There are five Pro Bowl players on that side of the field for the Eagles. The coaching staff had last year to adjust and now with a full offseason Castillo is right when he says, "It's time to get it done."
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