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NFL Report: Eagles look desperate

CASTILLO’S FIRING THE WRONG MOVE

BY STEVE DeSHAZO

It’s easy to imagine Andy Reid as the Wizard of Oz, frantically working away behind a curtain, trying to divert attention away from himself.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo on Tuesday smacks of a desperate team and a desperate coach trying to hold onto his job on a sinking ship.

And it’s hard to see how it’s the right move.

Let’s be clear: Defense isn’t the Eagles’ problem. Statistically, Philadelphia (3–3) ranks 12th in the 32-team NFL, well ahead of outright division leaders Atlanta (21st) and the New York Giants (tied for 19th).

The issue is the offense that Reid and coordinator Marty Mornhinweg run—or, more specifically, that Michael Vick isn’t running well enough. The Eagles rank 31st in scoring (17.2 points per game) despite having playmakers like Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek.

Vick has committed 13 turnovers in six games and has fumbled 30 times in his last 30 games. ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck recently eviscerated Vick’s ability to read defenses before the snap, calling him the worst he’d ever seen.

But instead of addressing his team’s glaring problem, Reid offered up Castillo as a sacrificial lamb, hoping to appease owner Jeffrey Lurie. It’s not likely to work.

Fingers began scratching heads all around the NFL in 2011, when Reid named Castillo to replace the cancer-stricken Jim Johnson, his longtime defensive coordinator. Castillo had been with the Eagles since 1995—the longest tenure of any coach in club history—but as an offensive assistant, mostly with the line. It seemed like an odd fit.

The furor died down when the Eagles ranked eighth in defense in 2011 and tied for the NFL lead with 50 sacks. This year, though, they have just seven sacks through six games and have allowed late touchdown drives in each of the team’s last two losses. Considering that the Eagles rank 31st in turnover ratio (minus-14), that’s hardly a surprise.

(It’s also worth mentioning that the Eagles’ offensive line play has gone from strong to terrible since Castillo switched responsibilities.)

“I put Juan in this situation and things didn’t work out the way I had hoped,” Reid said Tuesday. “I take full responsibility for putting him in that situation.”

At this early point in an NFL season of parity, no one is yet out of playoff contention. (Only two AFC teams have winning records.)

But it’s clear that the Eagles are trending downward. Reid nearly lost his job at the end of last season, after a talented squad that former backup quarterback Vince Young infamously dubbed “The Dream Team” started 4–8 and finished 8–8 by beating four tepid opponents in December.

Reid is 11–11 since the start of 2011, a rate that likely won’t earn him a 13th season. With a bye week ahead, Reid is hoping that a change will do his team good.

But is it the right change?

Castillo almost certainly will be snapped up by another NFL team, probably to design blocking schemes instead of combat them. He’ll be better off for it.

The same can’t be said for the Eagles.

UPSET PICK

Now 2–3 after correctly calling the Lions’ comeback win over the Eagles, the Pick will go with Arizona (a 4-point road underdog) to hand Minnesota a second straight loss.

Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443

sdeshazo@freelancestar.com

  • COUNTING DOWN

    1. Falcons (6–0)

    Bye extends perfection.

    2. Texans (5–1)

    Packers exposed flaws.

    3. Giants (4–2)

    Remember, they’re champs.

    4. Bears (4–1)

    Thriving with Cover-2.

    5. Ravens (5–1)

    Defense took two big hits.

    6. 49ers (4–2)

    No time for wallowing.

    7. Packers (3–3)

    Seeking first win streak.

    8. Broncos (3–3)

    Manning’s rarely out of it.

    9. Seahawks (4–2)

    Little time to celebrate.

    10. Patriots (3–3)

    Struggle to hold late leads.

    11. Vikings (4–2)

    Ponder’s turnovers costly.

    12. Cardinals (4–2)

    Another change at QB.

    13. Dolphins (3–3)

    Heads almost above water.

    14. Redskins (3–3)

    Giants will pursue Griffin.

    15. Lions (2–3)

    Urgency showed in victory.

    16. Buccaneers (2–3)

    Air attack progressing.

    17. Jets (3–3)

    Another shot at Patriots.

    18. Bills (3–3)

    Will Merriman return help?

    19. Chargers (3–3)

    Collapses are their thing.

    20. Cowboys (2–3)

    Clock-management issues.

    21. Eagles (3–3)

    You can smell desperation.

    22. Bengals (3–3)

    Next three are at home.

    23. Steelers (2–3)

    In uncharted territory.

    24. Rams (3–3)

    Many yards, few points.

    25. Colts (2–3)

    Big reality check for Luck.

    26. Titans (2–4)

    Hasselbeck starts—for now.

    27. Saints (1–4)

    Starting fresh after bye.

    28. Browns (1–5)

    Haden’s return helped.

    29. Raiders (1–4)

    Must learn to finish.

    30. Panthers (1–4)

    Wild card is only hope.

    31. Chiefs (1–5)

    With bye, no loss this week.

    32. Jaguars (1–4)

    Rested for trip to Oakland.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2012/10/16/nfl-report-eagles-look-desperate/

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