Asomugha: Eagles D Not Confident in Castillo Early, Helped Him Improve
Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was remarkably candid about the learning curve that his defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, faced this year.
LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD, PHILADELPHIA, PA — After a tumultuous season, the truth is finally out in the open. The Eagles defense did not trust Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator earlier this season, based upon his in-game play calling. Now, after veterans have coached up the rookie coordinator, Castillo is making better decisions and earning back the confidence of his players.
The result? The Eagles defense has been impressive in the last two games, allowing an average of 14.5 points, with a touchdown in each win coming in garbage time. The Birds have generated seven turnovers and sacked their opposing quarterbacks 13 times over those last two games.
The Eagles defense put points on the board in each of the last two games, with a Juqua Parker fumble recovery for a score today and a Philip Hunt sack of Matt Moore for a safety in last week’s win over the DOlphins. Philadelphia’s offense has started inside the opponent’s 30-yardline three times in the last two weeks thanks to turnovers.
Philadelphia allowed 23.5 points per game through its first 12 outings and generated just 16 turnovers in that span. The difference?
“Play calling,” said veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, commending Castillo’s improvements of late while simultaneously admitting he struggled earlier. “Play calling I think has a great deal to do with it and that’s no knock or anything, he’s just gotten better at play calling. The right plays for this group and for the situation.
“I think he’s understanding that a lot more and like I said, the belief factor and the confidence in the play calling I think really helps.”
According to Asomugha, that simply wasn’t there previously.
“Well he’s grown a lot throughout the year, and that’s clear even if you watched and didn’t know what was going on, you could see that,” Asomugha said. “With each game he’s gotten a little bit better and kind of understands what works in the NFL and what doesn’t, because he had never done it before. So he’s getting better with that and getting better with his calls and I think the better the calls, the more confident the players.”
At times throughout the season, Eagles defenders hinted at similar things. Brian Rolle at one point admitted that the Eagles weren’t completely confident in the defensive scheme or each other. Players talked about trusting one another and trusting the calls, but never went to the next step and admitted Castillo’s deficiencies. Not until today.
“In the early parts of the season, we would play well and then there would be some calls that guys weren’t really comfortable with, and then the confidence wasn’t there,” said Asomugha. ”He’s got some calls in now that he’s been doing that’s really helped us out defensively and he’s getting better knowing what works and what doesn’t.”
So, what have the differences been? According to Asomugha, the Eagles have simplified their calls for the secondary while making them a bit more tricky up front, with more stunting by defensive lineman. Jason Babin agreed about his job.
“I think it got a little complicated, more complicated,” said Babin.
He’s unlikely to mind, as he’s notched three sacks in each of the last two games and now leads the league with 18. While at first glance it seems like the Eagles are blitzing more, that’s actually not the case according to Asomugha.
“I think there’s been less blitzing, it’s just been getting there, it’s the right blitzes now and I think that’s helped us out,” said Asomugha. “You can blitz every snap but if it’s the wrong blitz, it’s not going to help.”
NEXT PAGE: ASOMUGHA AND SAMUEL COACHED UP CASTILLO, WHO SAYS PLAYERS’ IMPROVEMENTS WERE THE KEY
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