Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Feb 2011

Eagles Promote Juan Castillo to Defensive Coordinator, Hire Howard Mudd

The Eagles have surprisingly promoted offensive line coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator. Castillo hasn't coached on the defensive side of the ball since 1989, when he was the defensive coordinator at Kingsville High School in Texas.

To replace Castillo, the team has hired former Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 02 Feb 2011

36 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2011, 12:30am by BigCheese


by Stewart (not verified) :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 5:41pm

Mudd is a great hire. You can trace the Colts o-line problems this year to his retirement/departure. Also, is Castillo related to charges defensive end Luis Castillo?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 5:58pm

Glad to hear Mudd is a good hire, but file this under "huh?" Castillo has been one of the best positional coaches in the league for a while now - just compare Winston Justice in his first start to his level of performance this year. He took a guy who didn't look like he had any business being on an NFL field (in the infamous Osi 6 sack game) and turned him into a solid starter for an above average offense. Heck, he looked better than Peters at times. And for all the eagles' o-line woes in 2010, Castillo has consistently gotten good-to-excellent play from late round picks and undrafted players. The Eagles o-line has suffered significant injuries most of Castillo's tenure and he's always done great work with back-ups and last minute replacements.

But defensive coordinator? I just... I just don't know what to say. Replacing Jim Johnson was always going to be a losing battle. But replacing McD could have been a slam-dunk in any number of ways. Promoting the o-line coach was not one of them. Castillo has proven to be a great coach. Shame there's no reason to think that will translate into success at his new job...

by Overrated (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 11:25am

Look up the Peter Principle in Wikipedia sometime, it explains a lot.

by big_jgke :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:00pm

Are you related to Daily Show host Jon Stewart?

by Stewart (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 5:55am


by Jimmy :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:54pm

Howard Mudd is a great line coach but he has mainly used zone schemes so far in his career. I am assuming that Reid is looking to implement a Shanahan style zone blocking system and use play action along with bootlegs from Vick to eliminate backside pursuit. As a non Eagles fan what scares me is that this might work really well.

by qed :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:01pm

This is the strangest personnel move of the last decade, right? I literally can not imagine any possible reason for promoting Castillo to DC, although Mudd is certainly a good replacement as the offensive line coach.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:09pm

It's up there, but at least Castillo has been in the NFL (indeed, with the Eagles) since 1995, so at least there's some long-term stability there.

In 2006, Raiders coach Art Shell hired Tom Walsh to be his offensive coordinator. Walsh had not been in the NFL since 1994 (with Shell, for the Raiders), and had not been coaching at all since 1999. Instead, he had been running a bed-and-breakfast ranch and served as mayor of Swan Valley, Idaho.

by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:32pm

So, if I understand correctly, you're saying the Eagles are a better-run organization than the Raiders under Art Shell? I'm still /slightly/ concerned about this move...

by qed :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 7:04pm

I actually considered that, but at least Walsh had OC experience. After taking a closer look at his bio at the time Shell hired him you're right, that was worse than promoting Juan Castillo. I would still argue it's not as STRANGE because Al Davis and Art Shell were involved, and that's kinda what you expect at this point.

by dryheat :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 11:26am

What about Dan Snyder bringing Sherm Lewis in from his job as bingo caller to call plays for Jim Zorn?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 3:42pm

I would think both Al Davis and Dan Snyder are in the Questionable Owner Decision Hall of Fame by now.

by dryheat :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 3:49pm

I think you're being charitable in Snyder's case.

by Joe T. :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 5:27pm

There are a lot of Dan Snyder personnel moves that we could consider.

by Harris :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:39pm

I'm sure Reid has a plan, but I officially have no idea what the hell it is. They've waited all this time to hire someone in-house when Darren Perry was on the radio yesterday all but BEGGING for the job.

Hail Hydra!

by Pass to Set Up ... :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 7:31pm

I don't think Reid is in control anymore. I think this is a Banner-Roseman move, just like trading McNabb was pushed by them, and it appears that axing McDermott was pushed by them. Reid can't be happy about coming out and saying "XYZ is my guy" and then having to explain shortly thereafter why XYZ just got traded/fired.

by the cat in the box is dead (not verified) :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:43pm

Literally, if you'd told me the Raiders had done this, I would have shook my head ruefully and counted myself lucky I chose a less insane team to follow.

Now, well, I really don't know. This is wacky in the extreme. I'm assuming that this makes more sense from inside the game than out- Castillo is one of Reid's guys through and through, and there are reports he'd spend a lot of time breaking down blocking schemes for Jim Johnson and helping out on blitz packages. Him and Washburn in a room together would be a LOT of knowledge about line play and blocking schemes.

I can only assume that all these interviews of DB coaches were so that the Eagles can bag someone with a really good knowledge of coverages.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 6:48pm

Is there a chance that the Eagles know that a lockout is coming and didn't want to bother wasting money hiring an outside candidate when they are fairly sure that there won't be (much) of a season? If so that is bad. It is also pure conjecture.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 9:59pm

I would buy it if Lurie had in any way shown himself to be a penny-pincher. But the Eagles are consistently among the most money-spending frachises, so saving a milliion or two on a coordinator position just doesn't fit the profile...

by ElJefe :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 10:06pm

I hadn't thought about that angle. But I do think a potential reading of this situation is "Andy Reid appoints self as defensive coordinator".

Castillo was a linebacker in college and the pros (USFL), and did spend his first eight years of coaching on defense. But ... it appears as though he has no play-calling experience on either side of the ball.

Overeducated Layabout

by Southern Philly :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 11:40pm

This doesn't make sense. If you know that there will be a lockout, then why bother appointing someone to the position, let alone with a highly respected and long time member of your staff? And then fill that guy's position with another highly experienced and well respected coach? What are they going to do where there is a season, whenever that maybe? Fire Mudd and then demote Castillo and then hire a real DC? Or better yet fire Castillo? "Hey thanks for all the years of service doing a great job, and thanks for taking a dummy position during the lockout. As a gift here's a gold watch and termination papers." No, I don't think that is going to work.

by Mike Y :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 10:59pm

Can position coaches and coordinators be interchangeable on either side of the ball? Don't you have to know both offense and defense if you are trying to come up with a strategy for attacking/defending against the other side? Perhaps I am naive, but I am wondering out loud.

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 1:37am

I was thinking this same thing. Who better to figure out to best use your defensive line and linebackers/blitzing safeties than a guy that has spent the last 15 years figuring out how to beat them?

It is said that the best guitarist is a bassist playing guitar (see: Flea). Perhaps this is a similar approach/gamble. If he knows good offensive line play and can spot mistakes that a player makes, he should be able to find a player or an entire personnel package that can attack those disadvantages.

by dryheat :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 11:30am

Yep. Belichick was very involved in coaching the offense after Charlie Weis left. One doesn't get to be a "defensive genius" without a detailed understanding of how the offense works.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 4:05am

Weird move, interesting fella':

NFL Films presents Juan Castillo:

by 4tuna (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 5:41am

This has been done before. Mike Nolan went from receivers coach to Ravens DC.

Capcha: mebsio bequer Is FO available in Spanish or are they making up wordsnow?

by Southern Philly :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 10:28am

But Nolan only spent one year as WR coach, and it was his only season as a non-defensive coach (not counting of course when he was a head coach). He had spent the previous 8 years as a defensive coordinator and 19 years as a defensive coach. The Ravens wanted him on their staff but the only opening they had was at WR coach, so that's where they put him, knowing it was only a matter of time before Marvin Lewis would leave to be a head coach somewhere. This is a different situation.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 02/08/2011 - 12:30am

Neither of those is even remotely a spanish word.

- Alvaro

by MJK :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 12:32pm

First: I am of the opinion that Reid (like Belichick) has earned himself a little slack when it comes to making curious decisions. He's one of the best coaches in the game right now, and his methods usually work even if they seem odd at the time.

Second: I think the whole "has never coached on the other side of the ball" argument is silly (as Mike Y, Keith, and dryheat point out above). Since an offensive coach thinks all day about how to outfox a defense, and a defensive coach thinks all day about how to stop an offense, I would expect any coach to know both sides of the ball.

Actually, I have a personal theory that coaches with one background might be *more* effective coaching the other side as they are promoted up, because on their known side of the ball, they probably only best with their own system, but on the other side of the ball they are familiar with every system. Which means that (due to hubris and natural tendencies), they will try to force their personnel into their system even if it's a bad fit on the side of the ball they know, but are far more likely to be flexible and adapt the system to the people on the side that they have a broader knowledge of. Look at how many head coaches seem to have excelled on the opposite side of the ball of their background: Billick, Dungy, Belichick, to name a few.

by MJK :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 12:35pm

Oops, forgot to mention one more thing.

Given that Castillo is (reportedly) a good offensive line coach, I would expect that to translate into him being effective at designing very good pass rushes and run stopping defenses. Since he knows to to coach an O-line to open run lanes or protect the QB, it makes sense that he would know what about a defense is likely to beat those things.

But I do wonder about his ability to scheme and design coverages and coach DB's. I don't imagine an O-line coach worries much about WR's or DB's normally.

So maybe the eagles are looking to design an aggressive, pressure-based defense with fairly vanilla coverage schemes behind? That seems like it would be in character with teams past...

by qed :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 2:21pm

I don't doubt that Castillo could become an effective defensive coach, and eventually an excellent DC. I'm sure he has the football knowledge needed. But he hasn't been a coordinator on EITHER side of the ball, AND he hasn't coached defensive players in decades. His rep around Philly is that he's a great teacher and hard worker, and I'm sure that will help. I just don't think he's going to be successful stepping up to a coordinator position AND switching sides in the same year.

If they can get good veteran LB and DB coaches they may be alright.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 12:43pm

I thought Mudd retired? Apparently he just retired from the Colts. Damn, I liked that guy, he seemed really good.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 10:26pm

Yeah, I'm perplexed. He seemed to be ready to hang up his spurs, and now this?

Color me one disgruntled Colts fan.

by Francois (not verified) :: Fri, 02/04/2011 - 5:25am

One important point, if not the essential: Mudd and Washburn (new Eagles DL coach) are best friends, and were rivals for a long time. Washburn clearly told Reid: "Man, I can bring you Mudd in your team, are you in?". And who wouldn't?

The Eagles have now two of the best coaches at DL and OL. For Castillo, I am confident he will succeed. He's known for discussing defense with the defensive coaches and he sure had to see a lot of defensive schemes. Playcalling will be the key point.

by Floyd (not verified) :: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 1:45pm

This happened at Syracuse in 1998. It wasn't a disaster, but I don't think of it as a success either.

George Deleone was the OC for some very explosive SU teams in the late 80s/early 90s. In 1997 he left to become the Chargers o-line coach. In 1998 he came back to SU as the Defensive coordinator. The move raised some eyebrows, as Deleone was an Offense guy, but Deleone explained it as a natural progression. After all, what does an OC study but Defenses. It lasted one year before Deleone went back to being the OC.

1998 was probably the last year of that great run that started with the undefeated season in 1987. Things were never the same at SU after that. Can't help but think that Deleone lost his fastball after that one-year stint as DC.

Hope it goes better for the Eagles.

by Harris :: Fri, 02/04/2011 - 11:53am

Donovan McNabb's graduation probably had something to do with that.

Hail Hydra!