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Juan Castillo Takes Over Eagles' Defense in Surprising Turn of Events

Feb 2, 2011 – 5:34 PM
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David Elfin

David Elfin %BloggerTitle%

Nearly two weeks after changing his mind and firing defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid really reversed field on Wednesday when he put offensive line coach Juan Castillo in the job.

Castillo has been with the Eagles for the last 13 seasons, helping Shawn Andrews, Jermane Mayberry, Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas become Pro Bowl linemen. Castillo's coaching was also critical in the development of Nick Cole, Hank Fraley, Artis Hicks, Jamaal Jackson and Bubba Miller from rookie free agents into starters.

While Reid nimbly filled his offensive vacancy with Howard Mudd, a 36-year NFL line coach, the 51-year-old Castillo hasn't worked on defense since 1986-89 when he was the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Kingsville (Texas) High School. His only other experience coaching defense was at Texas A&M-Kingsville from 1982-85.

Mudd, 68, has coached the line for San Diego (1974-76), San Francisco (1977), Seattle (1978-82), Cleveland (1983-88), Kansas City (1989-92), Seattle (1993-97) and Indianapolis (1998-2009). The Colts' 227 sacks allowed during those 12 seasons were 110 fewer than any other team surrendered although quarterback Peyton Manning's quick release played a large part in that success. Edgerrin James led the NFL in rushing in 1999 and 2000 and Tarik Glenn and Jeff Saturday gave the Colts at least one Pro Bowl lineman during each of Mudd's final six seasons. Indianapolis, a perennial playoff team, won the Super Bowl in 2006.

Neither Reid, Castillo nor Mudd were quoted in the release issued by the Eagles, but will be available at a press conference later on Wednesday. Oddly, Philadelphia provided quotes from other teams' coaches.

"Juan is one of the smartest and most dynamic coaches in the NFL," said Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera, a former Eagles assistant. "If anyone could cross over to the dark side (of defense), he's the guy. I don't know if I have seen anyone any more committed as a coach in this league. I was able to call on him so many times to understand how certain offenses worked and attacked. I consider him a mentor."

Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, another former Philadelphia defensive assistant echoed Rivera, saying, "I can remember (late coordinator) Jim Johnson and our defensive staff putting our game plans together and we'd always get together with Juan just to make sure they were sound in terms of pressures and blitzes. Sometimes, I felt like he was on our defensive staff. To this day, he and I talk every week during the season to talk about other offenses in the league."

St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, yet another former Johnson aide, called the hire, "a great move by Coach Reid. Juan is a football junkie who has always studied the entire game. He's a detailed, aggressive and passionate football coach - all attributes vital to coaching defense."
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