Category Archives: Juan Castillo

Eagles Starters to Play First Quarter

The Eagles spent this morning going through a simulated game that was closed to the public as they prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens in their first preseason game of the season.

Andy Reid addressed the media afterwards, and said that his starters would play the first quarter. The 2nd team would take over from their until the half, and for the rest of the game it will be a combination of the third and fourth teams.

In addition to breaking down how he will divide his playing time, Reid said that Jamaal Jackson will start the game at center. Their had been some speculation over the last few days that rookie center Jason Kelce might take that role, but at least for the first game, it appears as if the job is still Jacksons. Reid did mention, however, that Kelce could see some time with the first unit. It would not be shocking to see that happen, as Howard Mudd is a big fan of Kelce, and would more then likely be interested in see him go up against the Baltimore Ravens defensive line.

Vince Young has struggled in camp so far

Vince Young will come in and quarterback the second unit. Young has had a rough training camp so far, both in learning the offense and mechanically. Multiple times Young has gone to the line only to be called back and talk with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Young has also had trouble making basic throws, as most of his balls have been overthrown or off target. This could have to do with him processing the offense while he is trying to play.

Jason Avant and Riley Cooper will be the starting recievers, while Chad Hall and Sinorce Moss will back them up. Moss has had a great camp, and it will be interesting to see if he can translate that into the game. Moss is fighting for a roster spot, and with Jeremy Maclin out, the Eagles will be interested in keeping as many playmakers as they can. Unlike Avant, Cooper and Hall, Moss has the speed to take one to the house.

On defense, Reid said that when the team is in nickel, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will play the outside. That means that Nnamdi Asomugha will man the middle, a role he has embraced. It will be interesting to see how much defensive coordinator Juan Castillo will show in terms of their plans for using the package for the regular season. With most preseason games, the gameplan is very vanilla. But with so many changes, and with Castillo new to calling the plays, it will be interesting to see how complicated the gameplan gets.

Speaking of Castillo, Reid said that tomorrows game will be the next step for Castillo. Castillo has been wearing the headset on the sideline for the last few practices, getting used to making the play calls. If the defense has problems getting a play in or seems confused, that could be coming from Castillo more then the inexperience of the defense playing together.

Either way, add up all of the plot lines for tomorrow night and you have one of the most anticipated preseason games in years.

 

Eagles Will Move Nnamdi All Around

Today was the day that Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown and others have been waiting for- the day they can finally put on the pads and practice.

For media and the fans, it was also the day that the Eagles would be forced to tip their hand on what they planned to do with their trio of all star corners.

Asomugha will be all over this year for the Eagles

After warming up, the Eagles defense took the field for install. Asante Samuel lined up at his usual right cornerback position, with Nnamdi lined up on the left. It is very clear from watching the Eagles today that when they play two cornerbacks, it is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who is going to be the odd man out.

When the team went into dime and nickel packages, Nnamdi moved inside as Rodgers-Cromartie lined up on the left. Nnamdi lined up next to Trent Cole on the left side, showing blitz every time he was their. On some plays, he ran in and on others, he dropped back into coverage. Juan Castillo moved Nnamdi inside on a number of plays, as it was clear he has all kinds of ideas of his new defensive toy. Making things even better for Castillo is Nnamdi’s willingness to experiment, as he even lined up in the backfield for some plays.

Opposing offensive coordinators are going to be staying up at night worried about where Nnamdi will be. The Eagles wealth of cornerbacks allow them to take the best one in the game and move him all around. Nnamdi’s size makes him an ideal fit to line up and show blitz, and he will be able to get in quick and get his long arms up in the air. When he has to drop back, he has the size to cover tight ends.

Although Rodgers-Cromartie did not line up as a starter, he was on the field a ton. The former Arizona Cardinal might just be the best athlete on the team, as he did not get beat down the field once during the morning practice. His speed and size, in addition to his long arms, allow him to make the play even if he is a step behind.

While Nnamdi and Rodgers-Cromartie moved all around, Asante Samuel was on the right side the entire practice. It makes sense to keep Samuel their, as he has shown is he a turnover machine from that side. In addition, he really can’t move inside as the other two can, as he lacks the size to play their.

Overall, the Eagles showed one thing this morning: that if they get a lead on a team, it is going to be near impossible for opposing teams to throw on this defense and catch up.

Castillo: Nnamdi “excited” about possibly playing nickel

The answers to how the Eagles defense will look with their three Pro-Bowl cornerbacks is slowly coming into focus.

Juan Castillo, talking to the media today after practice, said that one option no one considered could very well end up being the final solution.

“Him and I rolled in the car together to practice yesterday, and he was the one that mentioned to me the kind of job that (Charles) Woodson did and that he would be excited about a role like that if it went that way,” said Castillo to PhillySportsDaily.com

Nnamdi is hoping to make more plays on the ball this year from the nickel

For those that don’t know, Charles Woodson played a nickel style position for the Green Bay Packers last season. It was a role he excelled in, and one that Castillo said Nnamdi would be excited to play.

“Nnamdi is a special guy. He wants to make plays,” said Castillo. “I think he respects [Charles] Woodson. I think he would love that role, being able to blitz — big, tall guy like that coming off the edge, then all of a sudden in press coverage on the slot guy.”

Making plays is something that Nnamdi spoke about at his press conference on Sunday. After having 8 interceptions in 2006, Nnamdi has only picked off 3 balls in the last 4 seasons- and none last year. The lack of throws coming his way has a big part to do with that. In the nickel, Nnamdi would presumably be able to fool defenses into throwing his way.

Nnamdi, a safety in college, is used to playing a position other then corner, and could use some of those instincts from college to make plays from the nickel. His size would also benefit him as he covered corners going across the middle.

It is not surprising to hear Nnamdi open to playing the slot. In addition to wanting to make plays, Nnamdi also wants to win. He knows that with all three corners, they have a better chance. Already considered the best cornerback in the league, and being paid like it, Nnamdi really does not have anything more to prove. All that is left to do is win.

With both Nnamdi and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie saying they are more then happy to play the nickel, it seems like the three headed monster the Eagles have amassed at cornerback could work. Asante Samuel is expected to talk today, where he presumably will answer questions about his willingness to accept a new role.

The picture will really start to come into focus on August 4th, when Nnamdi is finally able to take the field with the rest of his teammates.

But to Juan Castillo, the corner that ends up playing the nickel should not feel slighted.

“A nickel defensive back is really a starter in the NFL,” said Castillo. “There are some teams that don’t even play regular personnel…We have three starters, and we need three starters. We’re excited.”

Eagles To-Do List

For the first time since the draft, the Eagles are now able to finish their off-season plans to improve their team. GM Howie Roseman has been very vocal about his plan to be aggressive when the lockout ended, and emphasized the feeling that the time to win is now.

But how do the Eagles finally get over the top and host the Lombardi trophey?

Rumors have run wild this off-season on what the Eagles might do. With the lockout over, lets sort through the rumors and figure out what the Eagles should do before training camp begins.

Moving Kolb is a risk, but one the Eagles have to take

1. Address the Kevin Kolb situation

The face of the lockout may finally get the chance to be the face of a new team. Whether or not trading Kolb is a good idea was discussed in depth here, but more then likely Kolb will be moved.  Teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks most likely called the NovaCare Complex as soon as the lockout ended, looking to workout a deal for the career back up. If the Eagles are going to move Kolb, they need to do it before they get into camp. Once camp hits, weird injuries happen. The last thing Reid needs is his most valuable asset on the injured reserve. While the Eagles could roll the dice and hope a better offer comes due to an injury on another team, it is to much of a risk. Unless they are offered a top of the line cornerback (Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie?), the Eagles need to move Kolb for the highest pick they can get. GM’s around the league are going to be doing deals at a rapid pace now, and won’t have the luxury to play the waiting game as their competition makes moves. Take the first round pick for Kolb, and start scoreboard watching.

2. Address the backup quarterback situation

With Kolb most likely out of the picture, the Eagles will be in the market for a veteran back up. Names such as Vince Young will be thrown around, and while he is talented, putting a project behind Michal Vick may be to risky. Vick’s dangerous playing style has been written about at depth, and for good reason. The Eagles need someone who could step in, know the system, and hold ship. Who will be available that fits that description? Mac Bulger is out there. But another name that might make sense for the Eagles would be Jim Sorgi, who spent last season backing up Eli Manning with the New York Giants. Why Sorgi? The career backup spent most of his career backing up Eli’s brother, Peyton, in Indianapolis. Sorgi learned the complicated, quarterback driven offensive line schemes of Howard Mudd- the Eagles new offensive line coach. Sorgi could be a big help to Vick in terms of teaching him the ins and outs of the system. Of course, Sorgi on the field may not be very much help. Other then Sorgi, look for names like Young, Trent Edwards, Kyle Boller and maybe even Brett Favre to surface.

3. Bring in a cornerback 

Perhaps the only other name talked about more in regard to the Eagles then Kevin Kolb was Nnamdi Asomugha, and he’s not even a member of the team. Making a move for Asomugha would certainly fit the bill as aggressive. Rumor has it the Eagles perfered Asomugha to Asante Samuel a few years back, but Asomugha is 30 now- the magical cut off line for Eagles free agents. Other then the age, Asomugha’s big contract request could turn the Eagles off. Asomugha is expected to ask for around 18 million dollars a year, and it is unlike the Eagles to invest a lot of money in one position. It is rumored the Eagles have close to $20 million in cap space, so don’t expect them to make a move for Asomugha. The former Oakland Raider also is used to playing a press style of coverage, something the Eagles did not play last year, and are not expected to play this year.

Where does that leave the Eagles? With Samuel on the other side, another top flight corner is not needed. The Eagles need to look for a solid tackler with height. Ike Taylor of Pittsburgh fits that description. Johnathon Joseph of Cincinnati should both be available, but by all reports had a down year last year. Both are a few tiers below Asomugha, but will also come a lot cheaper. If the Eagles are unable to land a corner through a Kolb deal, look for them to go for a cheaper cornerback on the open market.

Mikell brings experience to an otherwise young Eagles secondary

4. Sign Quintin Mikell, David Akers, Stewart Bradley

The writing is on the wall for Mikell. I spoke to him a few months back at Powertrain Fitness in New Jersey, and he talked like a man who knew his fate. The fact is, the chances of the Eagles resigning Mikell are slim to none, but that doesn’t make it the right call. The Eagles are extremely young at saftey, with Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Kurt Coleman all expected to play a major role next season. While each is talented and has potential, the Eagles are a win now team. They cannot afford to be beat for long plays all season long due to rookie-style mistakes. Mikell may not be a big playmaker, but he is solid and a good locker room guy.

Although Stewart Bradley is injury prone, he is still a young talented linebacker- and their are not many of those on the free agent market. Bradley also represents veteran leadership on a young defense at a position the Eagles traditionally have not been strong at. Bradley will be needed to make the calls on the field in Juan Castillo’s new defense.

The reasoning for bringing back David Akers is simple- this is a win now team. Can the team trust a rookie kicker to come through when they need him to? The Eagles will be in tight games, where every point will matter. And as Andy Reid put it: we can all count.

5. Acquire Albert Haynesworth

One player that stood out on the Eagles line last season was Antonio Dixon, a 322 pound defensive tackle that was able to collapse the pocket on opposing quarterbacks. Andy Reid will sing it till the cows come home- the game is won on the offensive and defensive line, and in todays game, the line has to be big. Dixon showed Eagles fans that.

Haynesworth is a monster when he is motivated- which he will be for Washburn

When the Eagles brought over Jim Washburn, one thought came to fans mind, and it was a good one: Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is the biggest, baddest defensive tackle in the NFL when he is at  the top of his game- and just bad when he is not. His off the field antics are well documented, and last season in Washington is not something Haynesworth should be proud of. But given the circus that Washington was last season, and the fact that Mike Shanahan even got into it with the consummate professional Donovan  McNabb, should count for something. It is rumored that the Redskins will do whatever it takes to keep Haynesworth off of the Eagles, but at the end of the day they will not pay him another big paycheck to disrupt the team. If Haynesworth can come in and play for his old defensive line coach Washburn, the Eagles will have one of the best defensive players in the league. Their are very few game changers in the league on defense- Haynesworth is one of them.

6. Look for bargain prices on Babin, Bush

Whenever the possibility of signing a free agent is discussed, it needs to come with this disclaimer: unless the price is right. Any player can be a good signing for the right price. Andre Iguodala for 6 years, 80 million? Bad signing. Iguodala at 5 years, 40 million? Good signing.

Would the addition of Jason Babin and Reggie Bush improve the Eagles? Yes. But it is very clear that in both cases, money will be the deciding factor. Babin has made no secret that he would like to come back to the Eagles- for the right price. He even joked to the media that Andy Reid can make up for the mistake of letting him go last year with a “nice contract.” Babin had an outstanding year last year, but investing a lot of money in a one year wonder is not usually the Eagles style, and nor should it be. If signing Babin costs enough that it turns into the Eagles big off-season signing, then it will be a mistake.

Reggie Bush would be very dangerous in the Eagles offensive system, but will want a lot of touches wherever he goes. If he wants to take a bargain deal to come here, return punts, spilt out wide and scare opposing defenses, then the Eagles should jump. But giving him big money, then splitting touches with LeSean McCoy is not what this already dynamic offense needs.

7. Bring in Plaxico

The decision to bring in Plaxico is a tough one. There are many unknowns at this point. Has he matured? How will he be in the locker room? Can he still play? All are very valid questions, and all could very well be no. Burress could come in with a bad attitude, tick off DeSean Jackson by taking away touches, and create a bad dynamic in an otherwise tight locker room.

Burress may be older and slower, but he is definitely not one thing- shorter

Burress will look for money as he has lost a lot due to his time in jail. He might not come as cheap as the Eagles want him to, but this team is in desperate need of height at the wide receiver position. Burress may have lost a step, but he didn’t loose an inch. His 6’5 frame would instantly be a red zone threat. Vick has shown he can put touch on the ball, and Vick lofting it up to Burress would be a major problem for opposing defenses. Riley Cooper was drafted to be that player, and very well could be. But letting Riley sit for a year and learn behind Burress is not a bad thing. Add Burress in with the Eagles other offensive weapons, and you have an offense thats close to unstoppable.

If Burress is not what the Eagles want, they can cut him at any time. The team has enough weapons to survive without him. But being deep at a position does not mean it cannot be improved. Ask Reuben Amaro Jr. about adding talent to a deep position. If Burress can be even 70% of what he was in New York, the Eagles will have something they have been trying to find for a long time- a tall wide receiver that can play. Burress wants to be here. He is motivated to redo his image. Bring him in, and continue to reap the benefits of bringing in Michal Vick two years ago.

8. Get to work

The lockout is finally over. The Eagles did little in terms of offseason work outs, and the players that gathered in New Jersey did little more then an organized catch. If the Eagles make the right off season moved, they will be one of the favorites going into the season and rightfully so. It is time for Vick to hit the film room with his coaches, learn the offensive line schemes, and take this team to the next level.

A hint on how Castillo’s defense will look? (Video)

Yesterday, a report by Adam Caplan of NFL Network said that the Eagles were interested in Ike Taylor, a cornerback that spend last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Juan Castillo wants to simplify things for his young playmakers on defense

Lost in that report was another nugget by Caplan. Caplan had some news about how new Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo’s defense may look. Here’s what Caplan had to report, per Pro Football Talk:

“Philadelphia is considering playing more zone coverage under first-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo in order to complement changes up front. Along the defensive line, new position coach Jim Washburn is implementing a wide nine philosophy in which both ends line up well outside of the offensive tackles trying to block them. The defensive tackles will be up-field pass rushers.”

This makes sense after what Castillo told me along with the other reporters at his introductory news conference. Castillo stressed that he wanted his defense to be an attack first defense. In order to do this, he talked about simplifying the defense so his players could react quicker. It’s been well documented about how rookies and some veterans had trouble grasping Ex-Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott’s schemes.

Zone coverage, if implemented correctly, would allow players like rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett to only worry about their zone, react quicker and make plays.  A zone defense also requires a lot of trust amongst the players, which could be a problem if their is a short training camp- or no training camp at all.  Castillo is famous for his over night  film watching sessions, and it seems he will expect that from his players at fist to get the zone down.

Castillo also talked about playing to his defenses strengths, which is speed. This ties into the report that new Defensive Line Coach Jim Washburn is thinking of having his ends play outside of the offensive tackles. Players like Brandon Graham would benefit from such a system, as he would be able to use his speed to get around the guard, and not get held up on the line. Another player that would benefit from this could be Jason Babin, who could be brought in as a free agent.

One thing Castillo talked about at length during his press conference was his ability to use what he learned as a offensive line coach to help. Here is some footage I shot for Gcobb.com, where Castillo talks about how his knowledge could benefit the linebackers in particular.

Unnamed NFL Coach: Lockout over by end of July

It wouldn’t be a day in the NFL without news regarding the lockout, so as fun as it is to discuss LeSean McCoy and Osi Umenyoria, the fact is the lockout is still very much on.

But according to a report by Clark Judge of CBSSports.com, coaches in the NFL see an end in sight.

Juan Castillo has a lot on the line this season, making training camp critical

Judge reports that NFL coaches have been alerted to be ready for the lockout to be over by the end of July, so prepare for the season accordingly.

“As long as we get six weeks to prepare for a season opener, we’ll be fine” one unnamed NFL coach said to Judge.

An interesting note from the report is that while coaches and players are concerned about the amount of reps they will have before the season, NFL owners are not. For players, their bodies are on the line. For coaches, their job is on the line. But for owners, once the fan walks through the gate, they have already won- in their wallet.

The report also states that coaches are preparing for two scenarios. The first would have five days of workout outs before training camp to focus on conditioning. Free agency would occur during that period.

The second scenario would have two weeks before training camp for player signings, with some workouts scattered through out.

If it is true that coaches are expecting such a quick turnout around between end of the lockout and training camp, then it is good Andy Reid and Juan Castillo are known for preparing. Reid has said that multiple plans are ready to be executed when the lock out is over. Castillo is known to sleep over at the office, so you can rest assured he will be ready.