How could it go wrong? Every major defensive signing you could think of. One of the best shut down corners of the decade opposite of our very own pick machine with a former Pro Bowl player playing slot. Then, the resurrected former first round bust following a position who knew about getting to the QB combined with our own stalwart pass rusher and add in another DT who knew how to get to the QB. A second round FS who looked good early on in the previous year coupled with the 2nd round safety who knew how to use the hit-stick. On paper, the defense looked stout. Like there was very little much you could do against it rather than hope to play catch up.
11 Passing TDs, 701 Rushing Yards, 5 Rushing TDs, and 3 INTs later, this defense has been anything, but what we've expected. Many want to point the finger at Juan Castillo and understandably so. However, I prefer to point the finger at someone who has as of late, made worse decisions.....Andy Reid.
Now let me start off by saying I'm not here to call Reid a terrible coach. I will be honest, I never really though much of Reid, especially as the years went along. I always thought his methods seemed more or less unorthodox, but, we were successful so I couldn't complain. But, ever since the passing of JJ, Reid has had more of a say in what happens with the defense. And there is where my problems with Reid lie.
I always thought Reid was short sided on how important it is to pick your defensive players and coaches right. Such as naming Bill Shuey, a former offensive quality control assistant, to LB coach. Or Rory Segrest, a guy who underachieved with the special teams, to DL coach. When Reid proceeded to turn loose those guys along with the firing of the underwhelming Sean McDermott, I thought maybe, Reid was gonna step outside his comfort zone and go for a guy he who was on the rise. Boy, was I as wrong as I have ever been.After hearing names such as Ray Horton, Dean Pees, Dick Jauron, Winston Moss, and Bob Babich tossed around the rumor mill, we selected our defensive coordinator......Juan Castillo, our OL coach.
I don't care who you are. There couldn't have been a person in the world who didn't scratch their head or raise and eyebrow to that move. But after watching some youtube inspirational videos, reading some positive reports, and some self denial, many of us became content with the move. Especially after the signing of big names Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, DRC (who we acquired through trade), and of course Nnamdi Asomugha and running a simplistic defense, how could anyone find a way to screw it up? Ask Juan and more importantly, ask Reid.
I want to find it in me to blame Castillo, and it is obvious he needs to go. But I can't blame him as much because its a position that he never should have acquired in the first place, whether he wanted it or not. But somehow, Reid saw something in him that made him select Juan above anyone else he could think of. But this is just one of the many mistakes that Reid has made when it came down to defense.
Earlier this year, we selected a LB out of Oregon named Casey Matthews. Matthews came from a long line of great football players (I don't need to list them). Many analysts had him pegged as a player who could contribute at the most on special teams early and after years of learning from others, could possibly find himself in a starters position. But once again, Reid fooled himself. He decided for reasons beyond me (along with his "DC") that Matthews deserved to have the starting MIKE position. No competition, no learning the playbook, no hitting practices, just that he deserved it simply because he has that "IT" (whatever the hell that is). Now everyone one knew that LB was gonna be a weak position because it perennially, it always is. So you would think that Reid would address a young position with a coach who was experienced enough to really make these players succeed. But no, he just promotes his assistant LB coach to overall LB coach. 5 weeks later, we've allowed 5 straight 100+ yard rushing games, our "IT" boy is on the bench, and coaches let us know they are gonna go straight at that group.
Another questionable move Reid made was the one regarding bringing in Jim Washburn. Now before anyone gets on me about hating the Wide 9, don't. I love the Wide 9. I think it's a great scheme and allows your DEs to focus on what they are suppose to do, get to the QB. But Reid's refusal to address the LB position stood out more than ever. When your DL rushes up field, you need to have LBs that can shed blocks and make plays. To everyone, that was a given. Everyone except Reid. Reid's philosophy seems to be "You rush the passer with the line, and cover with the CBs." Well that's good in theory, but when you run certain schemes, you have to be able to account for the weaknesses. Reid didn't (or didn't want to). I heard awhile back ago and announcer say when he talked to Reid, he said "Our plan is to prevent big plays from happening through the air. If we give up some rushing yards, we'll live with that." 701 rushing yards later, are you still sure? Apparently he forgot about the Play Action Pass. When you give up rushing yards you make that defense scoot up and react to the run more heavily, and when that's done, it opens up the passing lanes. And guess what else it makes your team have to face lots of? Screen and shovel passes. Many of which have been run successfully against us. Its like he expected the Wide 9 to just solve all of our upfront troubles and that the DL would be able to stop the run and the pass.
And the worst part, that isn't even the worst part about Reid's defensive ignorance.
Over the years we've watched our defensive draft picks come and go (I've brought this up a couple times in comments). I don't understand our picks and who picks them, but they do lead to one conclusion. Reid doesn't need to ever selected another defensive draft pick without some consulting.
In 2006, Reid selected 4 defensive draft picks: Bunkley, Gocong, Gaither, and Ramsey. Of that group, not one player is still on this roster. Bunkley was recently traded to Denver after never living up to his first round status, Gocong was a failed experiment by Reid who opted to change his positions, Gaither who was to be Trotter's successor till we saw how soft he was, and Ramsey who appeared in 9 games for the Eagles, but never panned out for us or anyone else after that.
In 2007, Reid selected another 4 defensive draft picks: Abiamiri, Bradley, Gaddis, and Barksdale. Of that group, only 1 remains, Abiamiri (somehow). Bradley (who looked like an up and comer after taking over the MLB position) suffered multiple injuries and never became quite himself again and now is struggling in AZ.
In 2008, Reid selected 6 defensive draft picks: Laws, Smith, Demps, Ikegwuonu, Mays, and Studebaker. Of those guys drafted only Laws remains. Smith (who was a questionable pick from the the start) turned out to be a failed experiment on account of Reid, Ikegwuonu (who was another questionable pick because of the suffered torn ACL prior to the draft) never saw the field as an Eagle, Mays who was to be a fill in for Bradley when he got injured but turned out to be a disappointment is now finding some success in Denver, Studebaker who was waived by us early and has gone on to find himself a home in KC, and Demps........you know the story. I don't even wanna talk about that.
In 2009, Reid selected 2 defensive draft picks: Harris and Fokou. Only Fokou remains. Harris would become our starting FS (even though he never played safety before), but never found success and would be released the next year.
In 2010, Reid selected a whopping 9 defensive draft picks: Graham, Allen, Te'o-Nesheim, Lindley, Clayton, Sapp, Chaney, Owens, and Coleman. Graham currently finds himself on the PUP list until after the bye week, Allen would get of to a hot start his rookie year then regress as the year went on eventually tearing his patella tendon. He would come back this year, but lost his starting spot at first to Coleman, but eventually regained the spot yet still underachieving from his hot start (even though he did play ok last game), DTN who currently is on the practice squad after surprisingly being picked so early, Lindley who never seemed to return to his first round form his junior year at Kentucky, Clayton who has found his niche as a rotational guy, Sapp who was at one time projected as a first rounder but suffered a torn ACL (his second one) and never panned out for the Eagles, Chaney who at one point in time looked like a player on the up rise who has heavily struggled thus far, Owens who never had a chance to make it due to our depth along the front, and Coleman who many pegged as the second coming of Polamalu but removed their hyno-glasses and realized he's just as mediocre as all of Andy's other defensive draft picks. Of this group, only 5 remain: Graham, Allen, Clayton, Chaney, and Coleman.
So you add that together, in the last 5 years, Reid has selected 25 defensive draft picks. Of the 25, only 8 defensive draft picks remain from those 5 drafts. To make matters worse, take away the 2010 draft and only 3 defensive players remain. Abiamiri, Fokou, and Laws. Hate it or love it, none of those 3 players are even remotely close to a starter on any other team.
It would be one thing if Reid was a hit or miss guy when it came down to the defense, but the way he has missed out on so many draft picks and some of the outlandish things he's allowed to become of the defense is sickening. The defense has become soft, clumsy, fundamentally flawed, and overall just bad. I understand players have to make certain plays, and I understand that players have to do the basic things that they've always done (tackling, reads, shifts, etc.), but to be honest, this when this defense takes the field, they look completely lost. Like they forgot how to play the game. And that goes back to coaching.
As I stated, I would like to use Juan as a scape goat and blame it on him, but that would be too easy. The fact is, Reid put Juan in charge, Reid brought in Washburn and his Wide 9 and told him to make it work, Reid had the say in which players were drafted, Reid wanted the FAs signed to give Juan something to work with, and most of all Reid chose not to step outside his comfort zone to get someone foreign to his staff to help him on his defense.
Therefore, I put the defensive struggles above everyone else on Reid.