The Philadelphia Eagles made a mistake getting rid of Juan Castillo. He wasn't the most popular Eagles defensive coordinator, but Castillo looks like Buddy Ryan in comparison to Todd Bowles.
Since Castillo was axed after a Week 6 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Eagles defense has regressed. The extent of that regression has seen the unit yield 28 or more points in every game since.
The Eagles are now 26th in points allowed, after beginning the season particularly stingy in this area. Under Bowles, the defense has quickly gone from being the team's strength, to its Achilles heel.
The root of the problem has been bad tackling and poor scheme discipline. In Sunday's defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, the alignment of Philadelphia's secondary routinely left the middle of the field exposed.
That's either bad design by Bowles, or poor assignment football from his players. The Eagles' issues with tackling have also gotten worse every week with Bowles running the defense.
They are not the most physically dominant bunch to begin with. However, Philly's D' hasn't been able to bring anyone down in recent weeks.
Tackling relies on tenacity at a mental level and sound technique at the physical level. The Eagles have had neither.
The casualties from their defensive decline have grown since Castillo's exit. Defensive end Jason Babin, who tallied 18 sacks a year ago, was released.
This morning, NFL.com reports that defensive line coach Jim Washburn has also been let go.
This exodus began, unfairly in this author's view, with Castillo. He was not a particularly respected coordinator, due to his background as an offensive line coach.
His schemes also irked some of the Eagles faithful. Castillo allowed Washburn to operate his controversial "wide-9" defense.
The alignment had ends Babin and Trent Cole lined up extremely wide and rushing from four-point stances. It put tremendous pressure on the middle of the defense.
However, the system did succeed in creating a feared pass rush. In 2011, the Eagles tied for the league lead with 50 sacks.
Castillo chose to support the heavy pressure up front with coverage, rather than additional blitzers.
This slightly vanilla style of defense has not exactly been the vogue in Philadelphia. Eagles fans were used to blitz-happy play callers like Ryan, Bud Carson and Jim Johnson.
Yet despite his unpopularity Castillo's schemes worked. His Defense ranked eighth overall last season and made a solid start to this campaign.
In comparison to how the unit has performed without him, Castillo's defense was practically dominant.847335