Seven new starters on defense, plus one new scheme, minus an offseason.
That's as easy as math gets.
The 2011 Eagles season was doomed from the start. Continuity and preparation are too important in this sport. A miserable start for the defense coupled with a banged up Mike Vick and some bad luck to put the team into a hole that would become their grave. And while fans looked feverishly for a scapegoat, the offensive line coach turned defensive coordinator became the easiest choice.
But in the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend."
To overhaul the defensive staff, specifically coordinator Juan Castillo, would have incited the same issues for 2012. Many fans clammored for Steve Spagnoulo, a former Eagles assistant cut from the Jim Johnson "blitz first" mold. Whether it was he or another established coordinator, it would have presented a litany of issues.
One, it would have meant, either, defensive line coach Jim Washburn's Wide 9 be scrapped, or the new coordinator changing his philosophies around to accomodate it. If it was scrapped, it may have resulted in an unhappy Washburn, or a less effective Jason Babin, the sack expert who thrives in the system. It the new coordinator implemented it, it may have made the scheme he ran less effective. For example, Spagnuolo specializes as a blitz artist. But with the gaps created by the defensive alignment, linebackers positioning is vital to run defense. A blitzing WILL behind Trent Cole would have meant even more gashing runs. So Spagnuolo may be forced to be less aggresive, and people doing things other than what they are comfortable with is never a good idea.
And let's not forget, too, how well the defense played down the stretch. From the Miami game onward, opponents gained only 265 yards per game and averaged just 11.5 points. The push at the end of the year made this the 8th best defense for the season, better than the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins. Really.
I will concede that he looked overmatched at times. Fine. But the noteworthy improvements means that the players are buying in. The system Washburn and Castillo have implemented does work. The Titans have run it for years with great results.
But the most important reason supporting retaining Castillo is this; your players won't believe in something that the coach doesn't believe in. Andy Reid said during his press conference Tuesday that Castillo's job security, or lack thereof, was never discussed this offseason. He is firmly behind is guy, because he knows that if he is hesitant, the ment who follow him will notice. He knows that with a full offseason to work on it, results will speak for themselves.
Reid has always been this way. He knows what's right, and doesn't care what people on the outside think. He knows that overreacting is part of being a fan, that over analyzing is a part of being in the media, but he refuses to let them sway him. He has had poor years before, and he just stays the course, and shows everyone that he knows what's best for this football team. And he will show us again in 2012.