Philadelphia Eagles News

The Long, Hard Road Pays Off For Castillo

On Wednesday, head coach Andy Reid couldn't help but tell the story of the time Juan Castillo went to Green Bay and spent the night in his car during a snowstorm just to have a chance to meet Reid the following morning. At the time, Reid was the quarterbacks coach of the Packers and was in the mix for the Eagles' head coaching job. Castillo simply wanted to let Reid know that he wanted to work on his staff.

Just two days after Reid was hired in 1999, the newly minted head coach was in the basement of Veterans Stadium at 2 AM when Castillo comes by to make sure that if the first impression didn't stick, the second one would win for sure.

It didn't matter what the position, Castillo just wanted Reid to find room for him on his staff.

Castillo has made a career of doing the little things and making the sacrifices others aren't able to make to get to the next level. It's been about proving others wrong. Castillo was one of only four coaches kept from Ray Rhodes' staff. Now, Castillo is the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles.

"All my life has been a risk. From the time that I came out of high school, from the time I coached at Texas A&I, from the time they moved me to offense when people said, 'What are you doing? He's never even messed around with offensive line,"' Castillo said. "From the time I started doing internships and then I said, 'You know what? I'm going to put offensive linemen from Texas A&I, a Division II school, into the NFL. I'm going to coach in the NFL.' So really, my life has always been about proving people wrong.

Castillo thinks Philadelphia was the perfect city for him to accomplish this monumental feat.

"I think that's what Philadelphia is. Philadelphia is a bunch of people who work hard who are always put down or always want to be the best when people think they can't," Castillo said.

The native of Port Isabel, Tx. was a linebacker in college at A&I and then for the San Antonio Gunslingers of the USFL. Once his playing career was over, Castillo was a graduate assistant at his alma mater and then was a defensive coordinator at Kingsville (Tx.) High School. Castillo wanted to get back into the college ranks, so he returned to A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville). But the only position open on Ron Harms' staff was that of offensive line coach.

"That was a hard jump right there," Castillo said. "It took a lot of years of studying. It was a tough deal. You start being perceived as an offensive guy."

At Texas A&M-Kingsville, Castillo caught the eye of Rhodes who hired him to be an offensive assistant in 1995. Two years later, he was the tight ends coach. In 1998, Castillo was named the team's offensive line coach. Through his early years in the NFL, Castillo was still formulating his coaching style. Energetic and fiery, Castillo saw that then Eagles defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas could be the same way and still get results from the players.

"What I learned from him was how he could push the players and still be able to get on them but they still loved him," Castillo said. "That charisma, being able to work up guys so hard. Kind of like my offensive line. You have to work them hard, but they have to love you. There's a certain way to do it and then they know you have their back. It's my responsibility to make them the best, period, and develop them."

Castillo developed into what Reid called the best offensive line coach in the NFL. But Castillo yearned for the day to be back on the defensive side of the ball. At times, it looked like that day would never come. Castillo prepared to hopefully one day become an offensive coordinator. Recently, Castillo's name was floated around as a potential offensive coordinator candidate. Certainly not a defensive one.

"If you talk to the defensive guys, especially the front seven, I always told them I'm a defensive guy that's stuck on the offensive side," Castillo said.

But when the Eagles were able to lure Howard Mudd out of retirement to coach the offensive line, the door for Castillo opened. And, of course, he plowed right through it.

"It's a tribute to the hard work, the diligence and the kind of football coach he is," Reid said.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:22 p.m., February 2

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