Philadelphia Eagles: Castillo's Defense Steps Up Again, Playoffs Still Hopeful

Drew MillerContributor IIDecember 19, 2011

Jason Babin has 18 sacks this season, 3 shy of the franchise record.
Jason Babin has 18 sacks this season, 3 shy of the franchise record.Rob Carr/Getty Images

“Fire Andy!, Fire Andy!, Fire Andy!” was the sound at the end of the last Eagles home game at Lincoln Financial Field.

There was a much different feeling at the end of Sunday’s blowout win over the Jets. The Eagles dominated every aspect of the game, and kept there faint playoff hopes alive.

With wins in their next two games and help from the Jets beating the Giants and Giants beating the Cowboys, the Eagles would repeat as NFC East champions at 8-8.  A lot needs to happen, but it is miraculous that there still is a chance.

Now, time to figure out these Eagles. Are they playing to save Andy Reid and Juan Castillo’s jobs? Or are they just gelling now due to a shortened offseason?

No matter what the reason, Castillo, the defensive coordinator, has felt the heat on his seat, facing criticism all over Philadelphia. His defense has stepped up in the past two games, scoring nine points and recording 13 sacks.

Six of the 13 sacks have been by Jason Babin, who is having a record setting year with 18 sacks. Only Clyde Simmons and the great Reggie White have had more sacks than him in in single-season for the Eagles, with 19 and 21 respectively. Babin should, and has a very good chance of passing both.

Turnovers have still been a problem for the Eagles. However, against the Dolphins and Jets they won the turnover battle, including Asante Samuel’s interception of Mark Sanchez in the red zone.

Dating back to last season, the Eagles have been the worst red zone defense in the league. Miami was stopped on two out of three red zone opportunities and the Jets were stopped on three out of five.

With the improvements on defense, the Eagles are in a groove and Juan Castillo appears to have saved his job.

It was known the Eagles were one of the most talented, if not the most talented team in the league. However, early in the season they did not play as a team. They battled injuries, and were the biggest disappointment in the league.

Now, they have found their stride defensively and have not blown fourth quarter leads.

With Mike Vick healthy, the Eagles offense has gelled as well. They outscored New York and Miami with a combined scored of 71-29.

LeSean McCoy continues to emerge as one of the leagues best running backs, breaking Steve VanBuren’s 66-year-old franchise single-season record of 15 rushing touchdowns and 18 total touchdowns.

The reemergence of Brent Celek into the Eagles’ offense has been a huge part of their recent success. Celek was underused last season, and it showed in his stats. He had a career high 156 yards yesterday again the Jets.

To wrap things up, DeSean Jackson was hurt yesterday making a tackle. He hustled after a turnover, and has showed a lot of effort in these past two games. He has answered questions about his work ethic and effort.

The Eagles frustrating season most likely will end without a playoff appearance. They need a lot to happen, but they have showed that they can play as a team. However, if they do make the playoffs they will be a very dangerous team.

No matter how the season finishes, Eagles fans can look forward to a successful 2012 season.