Big ups to CSNPhilly.com’s Reuben Frank for nailing down a 15-minute Q&A with Eagles rookie defensive coordinator Juan Castillo following his unit’s second consecutive fourth-quarter collapse. Castillo didn’t shy away from any questions, but there are some issues that need to be explored.
First, Castillo says that second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett needs to get more comfortable in the defensive scheme before being thrown into game situations. He says that the lockout hurt his progress, as well as other rookies.
“He’s coming along well. I mean, he’s an explosive guy. We know he’s a good football player, it’s just a matter of him understanding our scheme and really not just understanding but feeling comfortable with it and then the communication part with everybody. That’s big, being able, with all the formations and all the movement and shifts, being able to communicate and really those safeties are the quarterbacks back there.
That’s all well and good, but then how to do you explain this?
Yes, that would be Casey Matthews getting burned by 6-4, 265-pound back Brandon Jacobs. Matthews, too, is a rookie. He hasn’t looked comfortable out there yet this year, and yet he plays. Castillo was asked about replacing Matthews with Brian Rolle. His response:
“Today is Monday. We’ll see on Wednesday. B-Rolle has been playing well. Casey, really, he gave up that [one big] play, you know, but he had a solid game in the run game. You saw him make some tackles. He’s getting better and better. Those young guys, that’s what happens with those young guys. They’ll get better and better and better and better.”
So, on one hand you sit your second round pick, a guy with a reputation for laying people out. On the other, you keep playing a young guy who clearly is over his head right now. Makes perfect sense.
Castillo also addressed the fact that his unit hasn’t performed in the fourth quarter. He said the defense needs to be able to play all four quarters. In our eyes, that seems to be an issue throughout the league. Look at the Texans-Saints and Bills-Patriots games yesterday. Nobody can sustain high-level play all four quarters as guys are still getting into game shape thanks to the lockout.
The last thing that caught our eye was Castillo’s response to Frank’s question about Nnamdi Asomugha adjusting to zone defense. Says Castillo:
“Nnam’s gonna make plays. Y’all will see that. Nnam will make some plays.”
We have no doubt that Nnamdi will make plays. However, why have the guy play zone when he is a premier shutdown, one-on-one corner?
Without question, the Eagles defense must step up, and Sunday’s game against the 49ers and Alex Smith may be just the cure.