The Eagles' new defensive coordinator made it clear Wednesday that he's been a closeted defensive mind all these years. While turning himself into one of the best offensive line coaches in the league, Juan Castillo has been quietly hoping to get a chance to prove his chops on defense for some time. Head coach Andy Reid has enough faith in Castillo to hand him the keys to the defense, but because we only know Castillo as an offensive line coach, it begs the question - what will a Juan Castillo defense look like?
"We're going to be fast, we're going to be physical and we're going to be fundamentally sound," Castillo said when asked about what he'll bring to the defense. "Coach (Reid) knew that I wanted to be a defensive coach and a defensive coordinator one day because I feel like that's where I can be special. That's the thing, I can be special. Why? Because now I understand offenses."
Following his introductory press conference, Castillo addressed a throng of media in the NovaCare Complex lobby and was asked if there's a defense in the league he'd like to pattern the Eagles after. His answer? A team that gave Castillo's offensive line fits in Week 12 of the regular season.
"The Bears," he said. "I like the way the defensive line gets up the field and the way they play football. Fundamentals. They're not trying to outscheme anybody. All they're doing is, man, those defensive linemen are up the field. They're attacking and then really they play fast. They do the things that we want to do. They play fast, they're physical and they're fundamentally sound."
Castillo harped on the importance of that front four bringing pressure and with renowned coach Jim Washburn taking over the defensive line, Castillo expects his front four to be relentless.
"You have to be able to blitz, but you have to be able to attack rushing four," Castillo said. "That's where Jim comes into effect. What Jim's going to do, those guys are going to get up the field. Now, for me, the key is to be able to complement that scheme, and I know how to complement that scheme. Being able to teach the linebackers to take on a block with their hands and hips and then make the play. Then the (defensive backs), what you find out as the offensive line coach is that if you do drills and you do them over and over and over again, what happens? It becomes muscle memory."
Castillo's passion for coaching and teaching is obvious, and it's part of the reason he's so excited about the promotion.
"If I can do (what I did with 10 offensive linemen) with 35 guys (on defense), can you imagine what our defense is going to be like? We want to win a Super Bowl here. That's the exciting part, I can make a difference. I have the players and they're excited. They're good athletes and they're excited. They're good athletes, so now I want to take that philosophy that I used with my line and use it with the whole defensive side. That's why I'm excited."
Reid added that while there will certainly be schematic changes from the defense that finished 12th in overall defense last season, most of the terminology will remain the same, which could be important if there turns out to be a truncated offseason.
"Juan knows the terminology as well or better than anybody," Reid said, "so it's not that we have to change that as we make this change (at defensive coordinator)."
Meanwhile, there remain two open jobs on defense - linebackers coach and secondary coach.
"You obviously know that I kept a couple guys on the defensive side here that I think are tremendous young coaches," Reid said, referring to Mike Zordich, who was defensive quality control coach in 2010, and Mike Caldwell, who was assistant linebackers coach. "Juan and I are going through that process. I thought the important thing right now was to make sure that I have Juan in this position. Then we'll move from there. This is all obviously fresh. We'll take it from here and move."
For now though, all eyes are on Castillo as he makes the rare transition from offense to defense. He knows there will be skeptics and people keeping a close eye on him, but he's confident that he has what it takes to get the job done.
"All the great coaches had a first year, had a first game that they had to call," Castillo said. "I think everybody went through that. The things that I can do is just prepare. I was here when Jon Gruden first became an offensive coordinator. The studying, the way he went about studying, that's basically what I can do. But every great coordinator, Jim Johnson, had to call his first game."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 8:38 p.m., February 2