Peter King, SI.com:
The defense was unimaginative, and it allowed two 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to Detroit Sunday to aid and abet a Lions overtime win; a pass rush that was supposed to the envy of the league had an abysmal seven sacks in six games. I get it.
But unless Reid does something to address the offense in the next few days — the Eagles have a bye this week — Castillo's firing will be the biggest diversionary tactic I've seen in the league in some time. Philadelphia's offense ranks 31st in points per game (17.2), with explosive players all over the place. It's a disgrace.
Les Bowen, Philly.com:
Reid's painstaking review didn't last long. While many people close to the team thought the loyal offensive line coach was a bizarre choice to lead the defense two years ago, and many felt he should have been replaced after last season, axing him at 3-3 seems transparently panicky, the move of a coach who is desperate to hold onto his job and is willing to try just about anything.
If Reid thought Bowles would be a better defensive coordinator than Castillo, he could have hired the former Dolphins interim head coach for the job last offseason. If Reid made the wrong call then, it's hard to muster a lot of faith that he's making the right call now.
It’s not even about it being the right call or the wrong call. Reid’s admitting a mistake… perhaps too early, perhaps too late. The defense was far from the Eagles' biggest problem this year, and a 3-3 start is hardly disastrous. Maybe fixing the offensive woes should have been the first step in fixing things. Firing Castillo – whether at some mythical date in the past, now or later – shows that Reid’s outside-the-boxedness was silly. The Castillo thing didn’t work, and that’s Big Red's big blunder.
Sheil Kapadia, Philly Mag:
While this unit has certainly improved since 2011, the Eagles allowed Larry Fitzgerald to light them up in a 27-6 loss to the Cardinals. And after limiting the Lions to two field goals through three quarters Sunday, the Eagles gave up 20 points in fourth quarter and overtime.
Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha questioned Castillo after the loss.
All along, there’s been a question about what Castillo’s role was. Jim Washburn handles the defensive line by himself. And this year, it seemed that Bowles was in charge of the secondary. Castillo appeared to be responsible for overall management of the defense and game-day calls.
Asked Monday if Castillo would continue to make the game-day calls, Reid said, “That’s the way I’m looking at it right now. That’s the way I’m looking at it as I stand right here.”
Reid gave the same halfhearted endorsement of Vick… so maybe tomorrow will be a fun day, too.
Rich Hoffman, Philly.com:
I am not surprised that Juan Castillo is not calling the defenses for the Eagles anymore — and especially not after cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha openly criticized schematic decisions at the end of the Eagles' collapse on Sunday against the Lions. But I figured head coach Andy Reid would protect Castillo, leaving him in place and having secondary coach Todd Bowles begin calling the defenses from the press box. That way, Castillo could continue to wear the headset on the sidelines and relay the information to the players and save face. But no.
Yes, stunning. Castillo is out and Bowles is the defensive coordinator. A year and a half after the world guffawed in Reid's face when he turned his offensive line coach into a defensive coordinator, and months after he flirted with the idea of making a chance and giving the job to Steve Spagnuolo — which would have happened had Spagnuolo said yes — Reid is very publicly admitting a grievous error. There is no other way to read this.
Agreed. But he’s also looking for a scapegoat. As Hoffman wrote, and as a former player told 97.3 ESPN: “Coaches don’t fire coaches. You hide him for the season, then get rid of him.”
Jeff McLane, Philly.com:
Castillo's firing could be seen as a move made out of desperation. Reid, presumably, has ten games to save his job. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said before the season that another 8-8 record would not be enough for Reid to return for a 15th season.
A request to speak with Lurie after Castillo's firing was answered by an Eagles spokesman: "All comments here will come from Andy."
Lurie, rightfully, is placing the blame for this one squarely on Reid’s shoulders. He’ll fire him in the next three months.
Reuben Frank, CSN Philly:
Since Castillo took over as defensive coordinator at the start of last year, only eight teams have allowed fewer points and only seven teams have allowed fewer yards. The Eagles finished last year ranked eighth in the NFL in defense, and they're 11th this year. In back-to-back games, they held the Giants and Steelers to 17 or fewer points.
But they've also lost six games since the start of last year that they led going into the fourth quarter, and Sunday's collapse against Detroit was the last straw. After a 3-1 start, they’re 3-3 with a bye week this weekend.
It’s confused me how, for three quarters, the Eagles defense can actually look quite good. But then, when it really counts, they morph into an amoeba, seemingly put on the field to bend their way around opponents' receiving routes.
Bill Simmons, Grantland:
I love Andy Reid – he just scapegoated the defensive coordinator that he never should have hired in the first place.
Obvious. But very true.
Zach Berman, Philly.com:
This move could be viewed two ways: Reid admitting he made a mistake hiring Castillo, his long-time offensive line coach, as defensive line coach in 2011. Reid stuck with Castillo this season. It could also be viewed Reid as scapegoating Castillo for problems that are bigger — such as an offense that struggles to score and turns the ball over, and a defensive lune that struggles to pressure the quarterback.
Or it could be viewed as both.
Dan Graziano, ESPN.com:
But the announcement Tuesday morning that Eagles head coach Andy Reid has fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo isn't about whether Castillo was to blame for the Eagles' 11-11 record since the start of 2011. It's not about whether Todd Bowles will do a better job. It's not about whether it was a good idea in the first place to promote Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator or whether he ever could have been a good one.
This decision is about desperation, and it is the clearest sign yet that Reid understands he's coaching under serious job-security pressure for the first time in the 14 years he's spent in Philadelphia.
If anything, though, firing Castillo makes Reid look worse, not better. Lurie ain't dumb. He knows this was Reid’s decision. Fixing the defense (read: blitzing) won’t allow Michael Vick to hold onto the ball or for LeSean McCoy to run it more.
Brian McIntyre, Yahoo!:
The internal blame game began following the Eagles' 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, a game they led by 10 points with less than six minutes to play. Someone had to go and despite the improvement the Eagles defense has made on third downs and in the red zone, where the unit ranks in the Top 5 in the NFL this season, the obvious scapegoat was Castillo.
As for Bowles, this will be his first opportunity to coordinate an NFL defense, but is not his first experience taking over a unit midway through a season. The 48-year-old former NFL defensive back with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers finished out the 2011 season as the Miami Dolphins' interim head coach, leading the team to a 2-1 finish. Bowles' name has surfaced among NFL head coaching candidates and he was reportedly in the mix for the Dolphins' full-time job and drew interest from the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, as well. If the wheels continue to come off the Eagles bus, and Reid either walks away or is fired in Philadelphia, Bowles could be the replacement.
In other words: Bowles is Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg is Bowles. Ruben Amaro approves of this macabre promotion.
Jason Lisk, The Big Lead:
Andy Reid is at the end of his line if the Eagles don’t make the postseason, I have little doubt. Last year, he survived a rough start as the team surged late to get to 8-8. In the competitive Eastern Division, I don’t think ownership can sell another season of moving backwards. Fourteen years is a really long tenure in the NFL in one spot, especially for a coach who has not won a Super Bowl. As I talked about in regard to Jeff Fisher leaving Tennessee two years ago, no coach, even legends, has gone longer than eleven years with the same organization without a Super Bowl appearance. This is year nine after the one appearance.
Nowhere else, or under no other owner, could a coach have so many failures and still have a job.
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com:
These are the moves you make when you know your job is on the line. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made it clear that anything short of a playoff appearance this year will get Reid fired. Reid has ten games to save his own job. He looked at this coaching swap just like he would look at his depth chart.
So much for professional loyalty.