Juan and Nnamdi

Posted: October 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 16 Comments »

Right now there is a lot of talk about Juan Castillo and Nnamdi Asomugha.  And it’s not good talk.

We’ll start with Juan himself.  At his Thursday PC, Juan said he had asked Nnamdi to do too much and that had hurt Nnadmi’s overall performance.  There is some definite truth to this.  Let’s talk about what’s going on.

Juan Castillo was given 3 big time CBs to work with.  His task has been trying to figure out how to use them.  Asante Samuel is a pure outside corner.  He can’t play in the slot.  DRC and Nnamdi have slot potential.  Each guy has spent time in there and the results are mixed.  DRC looked lost vs STL, but has gotten better.  One of the problems with playing DRC inside is that he’s a poor tackler.  If the offense runs the ball, he’s not much help at all.  (although he’s proven to be masterful at chasing down RBs 40 yards downfield)

Nnamdi is an okay tackler.  However, you have to break that down.  He’s pretty good vs WRs in space, but playing in the box is a whole other story.  Some folks talked about Nnamdi taking on a Charles Woodson role for the Eagles.  One small problem…Nnamdi isn’t Woodson.  Charles is a freak.  He excels in coverage and vs the run.  Excellent blitzer.  He is a CB/S/LB hybrid.  He is one of a kind.  Nnamdi is just a CB.  That’s it.  A very good CB, but not a LB/S.

In Oakland Nnamdi was used the same way over and over.  Castillo (and I assume Nnamdi) wanted to try some different things to find out just what he could do.  Could he be a poor man’s Charles Woodson?  Could he shut down TEs?  The only way to find this stuff out was to try it in games.  The results have been mixed.  Nnamdi did a good job on Vern Davis last week when he covered him.  One of the big complaints from fans and the media is that Asomugha should just stay put at RCB and play press-man coverage.  Well, a lot of those same people were screaming after the Atlanta game that Nnamdi should have been used on Tony Gonzalez.   Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As a run defender in the box, Nnamdi is completely lost.  Gore had a run up the middle last week where Nnamdi was a couple of steps away.  He was in his gap, but when he saw Gore go upfield, he should have tried to make a tackle.  Instead he was a spectator.  That’s not a natural role for him and it showed.  I don’t know that Nnamdi saw Gore in time to get over and try for him.  Playing in the box means dealing with traffic and congestion.  Woodson is right a home.  Not so with Nnamdi.

I do think that Juan needs to continue using Nnamdi in man and zone coverage.  You do that to keep offenses off balance.  Oakland let Nnamdi shut guys down, but the overall defense stunk most of the time.  The smart thing to do is use Nnamdi primarily in press man and then mix in some zone as simply a change-up.

Doug Farrar of Yahoo has up an article ripping Castillo and his use of players.  Doug makes some good points, but I wish he’d provide some context.  Juan is experimenting right now.  He’s trying to figure out how to use his players in the best way.  The results have not been pretty.

Right now Juan needs to take his own advice.  Dumb it down.  Focus on basics.  Get the guys comfortable with the base defense and each other.  Find something that works and stick with it.  You can always mix in creative stuff down the road.

16 Comments on “Juan and Nnamdi”

  1. 1 the guy said at 7:42 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    Juan should also probably spend some time teaching players how to tackle. Apparently they made it to the NFL without ever having learned.

    Totally off topic, but is anyone else terrified of facing the Redskins pass rush without Jason Peters? If Peters can’t play, I vote the Eagles start Vince Young so he can be the one spending the game sprawled on the turf. He deserves it after the comment that shall not be named.

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 7:43 PM on October 8th, 2011:


    You’re optimism is something to behold. I understand. You’re an optimistic guy. This week is the last week for that. If this defense doesn’t show major improvement tomorrow, then even you have to admit that we’re screwed.

    I hope your optimism proves right, though.

  3. 3 Anonymous said at 8:19 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    As long as we have a chance to make the playoffs, I’ll remain optimistic.

    We’re already screwed right now. Each game we can adjust that up or down with a win or loss. I hoped we had a 12-4 team. We’re 1-3. Even a 9-3 finish just gets us to 10-6.

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 7:43 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    I look forward to this week’s matchup because it seems to be the first time we’ll get to utilize the multitude of talented CBs against an offense that likes to spread it out and throw the ball 40+ times a game. That wasn’t STL or SF’s forte, and NYG was hamstrung at the WR position. We should finally get to see a lot of snaps with our “Big 3” on the field at the same time, and–perhaps just as important–Joselio Hanson as well.

  5. 5 Anonymous said at 8:03 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    Wow, just got the news on Al. Place won’t quite ever be the same.

  6. 6 Morton said at 8:10 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    “One of the big complaints from fans and the media is that Asomugha should just stay put at RCB and play press-man coverage. Well, a lot of those same people were screaming after the Atlanta game that Nnamdi should have been used on Tony Gonzalez. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

    No, Tommy, you have it wrong: people are not screaming that he should exclusively be playing press man coverage @ RCB. They are screaming that he should be exclusively playing press man coverage, period.

    Playing him in zone coverage, or as a safety, is a completely misguided and bone-headed move by Castillo. As a defensive coordinator, he needs to recognize his players’ strengths and place them in a position to maximize those strengths. It is eminently clear after four games that zone coverage is not Asomugha’s strength, but press man coverage is.

  7. 7 marc said at 9:11 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    Under Reid, the Eagles have — until this year — had a massive O-line, especially with Runyan and T-Thomas, that just begged Reid to call more running plays.

    For reasons Reid’s never explained, he made the line a pass-protecting line, passive in nature and — like this year — one that struggled in short yardage.

    So it should be no surprise to anyone that the Eagles are using players in ways that don’t play to their strengths. Rather, it plays to how smart the Eagles are as compared to the other 31 teams.

    I’m w/ Morton. In his prime, Deon Sanders took his man 1-on-1 and the other 10 defenders played whatever they played.

    The Eagles should do the same w/ Nnamdi. And considering how weak the safeties are and how good Asante is when playing zone, you just have to scratch your head in wonder at the Eagles’ approach.

    Then again, Jon Runyon did that for 10 years.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 10:00 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    I have to register my I told you so but charitably will not furnish an entire I told you so list: I was getting hammered for saying that the team had 2010’s two best shutdown corners and 2010’s best slot CB (Hanson), and all you have to do is put them out where they excelled last year until they prove they are no longer the best, ditto with the LBs who lost their limited development time at the positions they played well in last year. Plan involved flipping DRC who has played little. Jeff McLane and others were talking about how wonderful it was to put Nmandi in the slot.

  9. 9 Anonymous said at 10:01 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    Also if you were ever going to give Greg Lloyd a shot this would seem to be a good time.

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 11:26 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    Nah, last week would have been the time to play him. He’s a between-the-tackles run stuffer. BUF goes spread. They’d eat him alive with space plays.

  11. 11 Anonymous said at 10:53 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    I believe when Nnamdi first got here, he talked with Juan about being more versatile. Playing slot, safety etc. That may have swayed Juan from sticking to his original game plan and expanding his thoughts and schemes based on a high profile guy willing to do anything. It’s creative, it’s exciting, The possibilities to win the battles by superior play calls was too much to pass up. A little Reid mentality thrown in of course, to over think and out wit the opponent.

    Here’s the problem… you can’t outwit the opponent. You have to outplay the opponent. Hopefully Juan gets it now. Reid never will.

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 11:27 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    Agreed on the “outplay the opponent” line. Simple, but very true.

  13. 13 Anonymous said at 1:22 AM on October 10th, 2011:

    And the essence of why we’re not winning right now. We can string together a bunch of good players making good plays, but as a team we’re not outplaying anyone.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 11:03 PM on October 8th, 2011:

    I believe in the Eagles and Reid and Juan…and all the blood shedding players. This is deja vu many times over. Regardless of the flaws, this organization always seems to come back and prove themselves. Obviously not SB trophies, but they do come through and silence the doubters that won’t give them a chance in hell. Here’s looking at 2-3 and going forward.

  15. 15 Steve H said at 4:50 AM on October 9th, 2011:

    I Thought Doug’s article was pretty spot on. It makes no sense to take one of the best press cover corners of this era and force him to do things he’s not comfortable doing. I don’t mind if you move Nnamdi to cover TE’s instead of WR’s, but lets stop with this safety and zone look nonsense. I don’t mind if you throw the occasional curve but really let him do what he does best.

  16. 16 Anonymous said at 5:22 AM on October 9th, 2011:

    Throughout the AR era, largely due to JJ, we were very aggressive with blitzing. In fact, we were consistently among the teams that blitzed with the most regularity. This year however, we have taken out a lot of those blitzes and relied on our front 4 for the most part. I think Sal Pal mentioned we were now among the bottom part of the league in terms of blitz regularity. I understand different coaches have different philosophies, and blitzing more doesn’t necessary mean better defense. That being said, considering Castillo was the oline coach between 1998 and last year, you would think JJ’s scheme would have had a significant influence on Castillo’s philosophies, certainly more so than any other defensive coordinator, yet Castillo’s defense seems to be incredibly different from JJ’s. Who else has Castillo been influenced by that better explain his schemes? I know he came in planing on simplifying the defense, but so far, this defense seems completely different, not just simplified, and I don’t understand where his ideas could be coming from.