Earlier this summer, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid fought and won a battle to consolidate more front office power for himself at the expense of long-time team president Joe Banner. This followed an offseason that saw Reid make a series of smart personnel moves, from extending the contracts of Trent Cole and DeSean Jackson to trading for DeMeco Ryans.
But this control came with a price, as Eagles owner Jeff Lurie made clear when he told the press that an 8-8 season would be "unacceptable," basically putting Reid on notice that finishing .500 or worse would end with his being removed as head coach of the Eagles.
So, with his team sitting at 3-3 after a brutal overtime loss to the Detroit Lions, Reid has made a drastic, ultimately desperate move by firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
This is right out of the Lovie Smith playbook of "How To Scapegoat Your Assistant Coaches."
Smith has spent his tenure in Chicago casting off assistants and coordinators, all while maintaining his position as head coach of the Chicago Bears. It would seem Reid has been quietly admiring his work.
With his team heading into a bye, Reid will turn to secondary coach Todd Bowles to clean up the mess that is left from Reid's inane idea that an offensive line coach was in any way, shape or form ready to head up a defense that was sorely in need of new ideas and good, tough, fundamental coaching.
Reid said all the right things in his press conference on Tuesday (per NFL.com), saying he takes responsibility for the foolhardy move, that Castillo was put in a bad situation.
But those words do little more than ring hollow when it was clear to everyone that Castillo needed to be let go last summer. The man is, by all accounts, a wonderful human being, but he was in way over his head as a defensive coordinator.
With that said, his defense isn't anywhere near the problem when it comes to the Eagles.
Starting quarterback Michael Vick's continued issues with ball security, coupled with a once-explosive offense that has suddenly turned impotent, are at the root of the Eagles' .500 record. The defense has more than held up its end of the bargain in 2012.
Reid also indicated in his press conference that removing Castillo is just "one of the moves" he plans on making during the bye week. While he reiterated Vick will remain as starting quarterback, he gave Castillo a similarly tepid endorsement after the Lions loss.
Don't be surprised if Nick Foles is the starting quarterback for the Eagles coming out of the bye week. Reid has exposed himself as a desperate coach who is willing to resort to desperate moves in a transparent attempt to shake up his team and save his job.
He wanted more power, he got it, and now he's in trouble.
Could this move pay off? Of course it could.
Castillo never should have had the job. Bowles will be an improvement just by showing up and being competent. But does Bowles' hiring magically solve Vick's turnover issues? Or Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's stubborn insistence that continuing to ignore LeSean McCoy for maddening stretches of games is wise offensive play-calling?
Clearly, anything could happen, and going to Foles now might be a way for Reid to show Lurie that he can develop another young quarterback, if—and it's a huge if—Foles is successful the way many of the other rookie quarterbacks around the league have been so far in 2012.
Any way you look at it, Reid is rolling the dice in a big way with his continuing employment with the Eagles on the line.
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