Castillo firing does nothing to solve Eagles' biggest woes; mail
The Eagles have problems on defense, but they're far more troubled on offense
Michael Vick's turnover woes are a reflection on the coaches as much as on Vick
More on Chan Gailey, getting rid of extra points and answering more of your mail
The Eagles have found a solution to their abysmal performance. It landed in my email inbox this morning at 9:46, in the form of this news release from the Eagles:
The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have dismissed defensive coordinator Juan Castillo from his duties with the Philadelphia Eagles and named secondary coach Todd Bowles as the team's new defensive coordinator. Said Eagles head coach Andy Reid, "I want to make it clear that I have nothing but the ultimate respect for Juan Castillo as a coach and as a person. 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.''
The defense was unimaginative, and it allowed two 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to Detroit Sunday to aid and abet a Lions overtime win; a pass rush that was supposed to the envy of the league had an abysmal seven sacks in six games. I get it.
But unless Reid does something to address the offense in the next few days -- the Eagles have a bye this week -- Castillo's firing will be the biggest diversionary tactic I've seen in the league in some time. Philadelphia's offense ranks 31st in points per game (17.2), with explosive players all over the place. It's a disgrace.
Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have failed to harness Michael Vick's ability and train him to be a very good all-around quarterback. Instead, he's a turnover machine: 13 in six games. Vick's 30 fumbles in his last 30 games shows clearly he hasn't taken the coaching about ball security seriously and continually reverts back to his frenetic days of making plays happen by himself. I blame Vick for that, but I blame the coaches equally; if you're going to put a player like Vick on the field, and hand him the keys to your offense, the one thing he can't do is turn the ball over, and the three of them seem powerless to stop the flood of turnovers. Turnovers, I might add, that have hurt the Eagles' chances to win far more than Castillo's game plans have.
So let's see what else Reid has up his sleeve. Maybe it's taking the playcalling from Mornhinweg. Maybe it's starting backup quarterback Nick Foles, which I wouldn't do quite yet. Maybe it's reading Vick the final riot act -- one more turnover-plagued game and he's out. But it had better be something, or else Reid's 14th season as coach of the Eagles may be his last.
Now onto your email:
HE DOESN'T THINK MIKE VICK SHOULD OWN A DOG. "I think if your child needs to have a dog as a pet to understand that you shouldn't force dogs to rip each other apart, slit their throats, electrocute them, force breed them, stomp on them, and gamble on their lives, then you have a long way to go to being a parent. Sorry Peter, not buying this break the cycle garbage. He had his chance. He should NEVER be allowed to own a dog again. And if you want to break the cycle? How about being a man, looking your kids in the eyes, and saying, 'We cannot have a dog because I tortured and murdered countless dogs for 15-plus years and I cannot be trusted to have one again?' And lets be honest here, my guess is Mike Vick now lives in a real nice community where dog fighting isn't exactly very prevalent. That 'break the cycle' junk is BS, and you fell for it.''
-- From David, of Cambridge, Mass.
If you've read my column for a while, you understand where I fall on things like redemption. Namely, I'm for it. If Michael Vick has shown himself to have legitimately (in the eyes of the court, and in the eyes of his community) changed his dog-fighting ways, I believe he should have a chance to own a dog.
HE DOESN'T THINK CHAN GAILEY SHOULD BE COACH OF THE WEEK. "I have a HUGE issue with your coach of the week. Chan Gailey did absolutely everything he could to lose that game in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter and only because God finally remembered that the Cardinals were the Cardinals did the Bills luck into that win. After the Jairus Byrd interception late in the fourth Buffalo had to slow down that game and use some clock. Instead, first play Ryan Fitzpatrick throws incomplete, then even when Jackson runs for the first down he goes out of bounds, stopping the clock. He needs to know he has to stay on the field there. Then the Brad Smith pick, which was just an absolutely ridiculous play call. For a coach, and by extension his players, to have such terrible situational awareness and late game clock management is inexcusable.''
-- From Borden, of Smithers, British Columbia
You raise good points. My point was this: This was a Falling Over The Edge Of A Cliff Game for Buffalo. The season was on the precipice after the Bills were outscored 90-17 over the previous game and a half -- which has to be unheard of in NFL annals, allowing 90 points in six quarters. The Bills were playing for their lives, and they played well. The only play call that was dumb was the Brad Smith pass; you're right. No defending that. But a head coach's job goes beyond individual playcalling, and in the grand scheme of season-saving, I thought Gailey's approach with the players about "you've got to get your respect back,'' and having them ready to play a 4-1 team on the road merited credit.
HE DOESN'T LIKE MY ABOLISH-THE-EXTRA-POINT POINT. "You write, 'Since the opening days of 2010, including playoffs, kickers have made 2,976 extra points out of 2,996 attempted -- 99.3 percent.' My response is -- so what? In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, NFL teams blocked 21 punts, of about 5,000 attempts. In other words, about 99.6 percent of punts are not blocked. So why not give everybody a free kick (a la the punt after a safety) if the punt is almost certain to go off without a hitch? It's because, when something DOES go wrong, it's all the more heart-breaking and potentially game-changing. (See Steelers, Titans from last Thursday).''
-- From Bill, of Pittsburgh
First of all, that blocked punt number seems low, but I have no way of checking on it in time to file this column, so I'll take your word for it. Secondly, fourth down is a play, not a conversion attempt. You can throw a pass downfield out of it, you can run wide, run up the middle -- you can do anything that you did on first, second or third down. You can also punt and pin a team back, you can have players on the punt team diving to keep the ball out of the end zone. In other words, a lot of things can happen on a punt. Not many things can happen on an extra point. Not many interesting things, anyway.
HE DOESN'T LIKE HOW TOM BRADY PLAYED SUNDAY. "I think you missed a Goat of the Week--Tom Brady. Intentional grounding with one second left in the first half taking three points off the board that would have won the game. Interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter that cost points that would have won the game. Gets the ball with 1:15 and only needing a field goal and can't even get a first down. Terrible day for the golden boy.''
-- From John, of Huntington Beach, Cal.
Good points, all. I could have made a case for Brady. But was he the one who let the fastest receiver on the Seahawks get behind the entire New England defense, so Russell Wilson could have dropped a bomb into Rice to win the game?
HE DOESN'T THINK THE GIANTS' WIN WAS BIGGER THAN GREEN BAY'S. I AM SO SURPRISED HE IS FROM GREEN BAY. "Thanks for continuing to write a great column year in, year out. Always a great read. Quick question from this week's column: You noted that the NY Giants win over the 49ers this week was the most impressive win by any team this season. We all know that you exhibit East Coast bias constantly, but really, how can you make such a strong statement in the same week that Green Bay went on the road and dismantled the previously unbeaten Texans squad?
-- From Tim, of Green Bay, Wis.
San Francisco won the previous two games by a combined 79-3. Houston, in its previous game, scraped by on the road against a struggling Jets team. The Niners looked invincible, and they'd lost to the Giants in the title game on two muffed punts by the backup punt returner. The Green Bay win was a great win, surprising in its decisiveness. The Giants' win was total domination over a steamroller, holding an explosive offense to three points at home. I thought it was the best win any team in the league has had this year.
BUT HE LIKES WHAT HOTELS DO WITH SHAMPOO BOTTLES. "I love your column and always find the non-football notes and stories nearly as interesting as the football ones. As a hotel manager for 14 years, I took a particular interest to your piece this week regarding what a traveler can and/or should do with the partially used bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc. in their hotel room.
First of all, anyone who wants to take these amenities with them is certainly entitled to do so. However, the purpose of me writing is to hopefully make the masses aware of a little known industry practice. Many hotels and hotel companies ask their room attendants to retrieve these partially used amenities and deposit them into specially marked containers in the back of the house areas. These containers are then collected once or twice per week and delivered to local homeless shelters or to organizations that distribute them to families in need.
There are some national organizations that do this (www.rockandwrapitup.org), but even in the absence of those, many hotels choose to do so on their own. Not only does it help those in need, but it also reduces thousands of tons of waste per year. It stands to reason that most frequent travelers can afford their own shampoo and conditioner at home. Wouldn't it be nice to know that when you leave that half-used bottle in your room, it has a good chance of finding its way to someone who can't afford these basics?''
From Dennis Doherty, of Fanwood, N.J.
Fantastic news, Dennis. Thanks a lot for sharing.