In the weeks since Sean McDermott was relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator, head coach Andy Reid has interviewed several candidates to fill the position.
The job all along was Juan Castillo's to lose except for a very important caveat. First, a suitable offensive line coach needed to be found. Once the briefly retired Howard Mudd was on board, Reid finally told Castillo at 6 AM on Monday morning that he would have the opportunity to officially interview for the job.
With just 22 hours before the interview that he has worked his whole life for, Castillo spent virtually every minute studying. He went back and looked at a lot of the late Jim Johnson's old game tapes. Castillo went home briefly to shower and change into his suit, but that was it. There was no time to sleep; something Castillo doesn't do a whole lot of during the season anyway.
Castillo and Reid met Tuesday morning from 4 AM to 9:30 AM and went over every aspect of the defensive scheme. This morning, Castillo received the news that he was going to be the Eagles' new defensive coordinator.
"What might seem a little strange is a very confident move and one that will take our defense to another level," Reid said on Wednesday.
Castillo has been an offensive line coach for the past 13 seasons and hasn't coached the defensive side of the ball since he was at Kingsville (Tx.) High School in 1989. Then, why is he the best candidate to take over a young defense that was bolstered by the addition of nine draft picks last year?
"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.
Reid saw how Castillo and Johnson would work together over the years devising blitzes. Reid noticed his young defensive coaches spending lots and lots of time with Castillo talking shop.
"I've always joked with Juan, 'If I can find a line coach as good as you, then I can do something here. Until then, you're my line coach. You're right here,'" Reid said.
Castillo is an outstanding teacher who has been able to help first-round picks reach their potential or mold rookie free agents into productive NFL starters. Castillo will also have one of the league's best defensive line coaches in Jim Washburn at his disposal. The Eagles will continue to run a 4-3 defense with the same terminology from previous years. What you will see, Castillo said, is an "attack and react" style that fans will be sure to love.
The stars aligned for Castillo to get his first coordinator job after 16 NFL seasons. Don't think that the drive, work ethic and determination that carried Castillo will all of a sudden disappear.
"I know the fans of Philadelphia want a champion," Castillo said.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:50 p.m., February 2