Eagles fire defensive coordinator Juan Castillo

Brian McIntyre

When the Philadelphia Eagles return from their bye week, they'll do so with a new defensive coordinator. Head coach Andy Reid announced on Tuesday that Juan Castillo has been dismissed from his duties as defensive coordinator and will be replaced by secondary coach Todd Bowles.

"I want to make it clear that I have nothing but the ultimate respect for Juan Castillo as a coach and as a person," Reid said in a statement released by the team. "He's one of the finest football coaches that I have ever worked with. He has served this organization extremely well for 18 years and letting him go was a difficult decision. I know he will continue to be a successful coach in this league and wish he and his family nothing but the best.

"We're six games into the season and average isn't good enough. I know the potential of our team and insist on maximizing it."

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Castillo, 53, has been with the Eagles organization since 1995, working as an offensive assistant before moving up to tight ends coach in 1997, and was the club's offensive line coach from 1998-2010. Reid named Castillo the defensive coordinator on Feb. 2, 2011, replacing Sean McDermott who had been fired on Jan. 15, 2011.

In Castillo's first season as a defensive coordinator, the Eagles ranked eighth in total defense, allowing an average of 324.9 yards per game. Through six games this season, the Eagles are 12th in total defense, allowing 330.8 yards per game, but have just eight takeaways and their seven quarterback sacks rank 30th in the NFL, despite the presence of Pro Bowl pass-rushers Trent Cole (1.5 sacks) and Jason Babin (2.5 sacks). The Eagles have lost three of their last four games, the defense has been held without a sack for three straight contests, and according to ESPN's Stats & Info, the Eagles have blown an NFL-high seven fourth-quarter leads since the beginning of the 2011 season.

The internal blame game began following the Eagles' 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, a game they led by 10 points with less than six minutes to play. Someone had to go and despite the improvement the Eagles defense has made on third downs and in the red zone, where the unit ranks in the Top 5 in the NFL this season, the obvious scapegoat was Castillo.

As for Bowles, this will be his first opportunity to coordinate an NFL defense, but is not his first experience taking over a unit midway through a season. The 48-year-old former NFL defensive back with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers finished out the 2011 season as the Miami Dolphins' interim head coach, leading the team to a 2-1 finish. Bowles' name has surfaced among NFL head coaching candidates and he was reportedly in the mix for the Dolphins' full-time job and drew interest from the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, as well. If the wheels continue to come off the Eagles bus, and Reid either walks away or is fired in Philadelphia, Bowles could be the replacement.

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