We’re finally getting some news. I’m very happy that the Eagles were able to hire Todd Bowles to be the Secondary Coach. Good move. Keeping Juan as Defensive Coordinator – mixed bag.
I wrote previously that Juan didn’t fit the template for recent Super Bowl winners. Those teams had a veteran DC or someone with an extensive background. And several of them learned from a top notch defensive coach. Juan isn’t a veteran DC. And while he did spend time working with Jim Johnson on blitzes, that isn’t the same thing as working under him on a daily basis.
Word is leaking now that Andy never considered replacing Juan. I find this a little hard to believe, but that’s just me reading the tea leaves (southern iced tea and not Snapple for those scoring at home).
The thing about replacing Juan is that I only think Andy wanted someone that would be a slam dunk hire. I’m guessing he looked around and put out a feeler or two, but nothing ended up working out.
I will admit being frustrated by today’s news that Butch Davis is in consideration for DC down in Tampa. I think Butch would have been a good hire for our scheme and personnel. I didn’t talk about him much because I wondered if Butch wanted to watch his son play HS football (here in Chapel Hill where I live). If Butch is available, I sure hope Andy called him. Butch is old friends with Tampa coach Greg Schiano so if that job works out, I’m sure their relationship is a big reason why. Maybe Andy quietly talked to Butch and got a “no” in response. Who knows…
Now let’s shift back to Juan. Can he get the job done? The defense did show serious improvement in the final 11 games. That’s when Jarrad Page was benched. We also had stabilized LB by that point. And my man Derek Landri was doing his thing.
Juan was both part of the problem and part of the solution. He mis-used personnel early on. He tried to do too much schematically (which is incredibly ironic based on all his offseason talk).
Thankfully, Juan made changes. He figured out how to best use his players. He tinkered with the lineup until guys found the roles that suited them best. Juan listened to what his players liked and didn’t like and adjusted the gameplans. He got better. The players got better. The defense got better.
Can the Eagles win a Super Bowl with Juan as DC? I don’t know. I’m interested to see what he can do with a real MLB. Of course, he’s got to help pick that guy out. Juan did a poor job of that last year with Casey Matthews. There is no guarantee he’ll get it right this year. I do think we’ll go with a veteran in free agency so it will be much less of a projection than a 4th round draft pick.
I certainly want Juan to get the job done. I believe in him as a person. I believe in him as a coach. As DC…I want to believe, but I really don’t know what I feel. I do think that he and the players made a lot of progress in 2011. I’m glad that’s not all out the window. There is value in building on that foundation.
Is he good enough to beat GB or NO? Is he good enough to win the big game? I just don’t know.
As for Bowles, great hire. He is a former NFL player. I like that when it comes to someone coaching DBs. He can talk from experience and the players might be more likely to listen.
I love Bowles background. He and Reid know each other from the Packers in the mid-90s. Todd was on the Player Personnel staff. Then he went and coached in college. I think that is good experience. It teaches you how to teach. Then he spent time with head coaches Bill Parcells and Butch Davis. He worked with some good DCs: Mike Nolan, Foge Fazio, Mike Zimmer, and Dom Capers. Those guys are terrific coaches with a variety of schemes, ideas, and backgrounds.
Bowles has worked in the 3-4 and 4-3. He’s worked with young players and veterans. He’s been part of blitz happy groups and coverage based defenses. He’s seen it all and should have a good feel for what works with what personnel. There is no magic system that is foolproof. You must marry scheme and squad. The 46 Defense wasn’t all that dynamic with Mike Reichenbach instead of Mike Singletary.
Castillo is a coach’s coach. He’s smart. He’s been in the business a long time and is highly respected by his peers. I think he’ll work with Bowles to help us put out the best possible defense. I don’t see Juan having battles with anyone over power and who’s doing what. I think he’ll embrace Bowles the way he did Jim Washburn. Juan knows this is a short timeline he’s working on. If he wants to stay a defensive coach, he need success in 2012. He’ll be the DC, but his door will be open to whatever help Bowles can bring to the table.
If you don’t replace Juan, give him the tools that give him the best chance to succeed. Hiring Bowles is step one in that process. Add a MLB and then draft a SAM…we might just have a pretty good defense in 2012. Good enough? Only time will tell.