Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Adjectives can make or break a football
When things are going well, you may hear words like innovative and inventive
used to describe NFL mentors. When thing go wrong, however, you might see
terms like arrogant and presumptuous creeping into the narrative.
Philadelphia's Andy Reid is all of the above. Wins and losses could never
define his coaching career or the flaws that have manifested due to a conceit
shared by those only at the top of their chosen professions.
Reid, who was given an ultimatum to win or go home by team owner Jeffrey Lurie
before the season, is on the hot seat for the first time in Philly. So, with
things heading south quickly, Reid started pointing fingers on Tuesday, firing
his defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, and replacing him with secondary
coach Todd Bowles.
The move came just two days after the Eagles blew a 10-point lead late in the
fourth quarter and dropped a 26-23 overtime decision against Detroit.
Reid foreshadowed changes on Monday with his team at 3-3 heading into its bye
"We're six games into the season and average isn't good enough," Reid said. "I
know the potential of our team and insist on maximizing it."
"Maximizing it" evidently meant ignoring a dismal offensive line, shoddy
special teams units and Michael Vick's turnover problems in favor of
sacrificing a novice, who never should have gotten the job in the first place,
at the altar of hubris.
Reid, like a lot of successful coaches, thinks he invented the game or at
least was in the room when it was happening. And he's never been shy about
showing his disdain for those who question his decisions.
Hiring Castillo as his defensive coordinator before last season was the
ultimate middle finger to his detractors.
Castillo spent 13 seasons with the Eagles as an offensive line coach, where he
was widely respected as one of the league's top O-line assistants.
Under his tutelage, four linemen earned their first Pro Bowl selections: Tra
Thomas, Jermane Mayberry, Jon Runyan and Shawn Andrews. Castillo also
displayed a penchant for developing undrafted players like Jamaal Jackson,
Hank Fraley, Artis Hicks and Bubba Miller into solid, albeit unspectacular NFL
In another life, Castillo was a former linebacker at Texas A&I (1978-80) and
for the USFL's San Antonio Gunslingers before beginning his coaching career as
the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Kingsville (Texas) High
School. He also went on to mentor the linebackers and defensive line at Texas
A&M-Kingsville before moving to the offensive side of the ball in 1990.
By all accounts, Castillo is a hard-working man who thrives on the preparation
aspect of a game plan. That, along with that tiny sliver of defensive
experience on his resume, convinced Reid that Castillo could replace Sean
McDermott and be an NFL defensive coordinator, at least after far bigger names
like Jim Mora Jr. and Dennis Allen turned "Big Red" down.
If anyone else went up to Lurie with that same thesis, he would have likely
been labeled a lunatic and taken out of his office in a straitjacket.
The move, not surprisingly, was a disaster.
Castillo came under fire almost immediately as the Eagles finished a
disappointing 8-8 last year.
Expecting Castillo to match wits with veteran defensive minds like Rob Ryan,
Perry Fewell and Jim Haslett was an insult to what they do for a living and an
untenable position to put Castillo in.
It's one thing to prepare during the week, but it's another to have the innate
feel to call the right defense when the bullets are flying.
Moving Castillo to the defensive side of the ball was a terrible decision made
by an ego run amok.
Political junkies believe in a pendulum-like effect in that world. The party
in power almost inevitably becomes unpopular and the people, looking for
change, respond by voting the other way. The pendulum swings, accelerating
back the other way.
That pendulum is about to swing the other way in Philly and it's coming in
Reid was once a very good NFL coach, but he began to believe his success was
built on a foundation built by one man -- Andy Reid. And in the end, the same
smugness that allowed Reid to hire Castillo will prove to be his ultimate
undoing in the City of Brotherly Love.
In fact, it's becoming clearer and clearer each day -- the late Jim Johnson
built most of the foundation Reid is currently leaving in ruins.
NFL POWER POLL
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THE GAMES (All Times Eastern)
Seattle (4-2) at San Francisco (4-2), Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
LINE: 49ers by 7
THE SKINNY: Seattle and San Francisco will kick off Week 7 with a key NFC West
division matchup. The Seahawks, 49ers and Arizona Cardinals all enter the week
tied for first place at 4-2. Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw
for a career-high 293 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Seahawks to a
24-23, come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6.
"We just focused in," Wilson said. "The key was to continue to stay focused on
what we can control and play one play at a time. Stay in the moment and stay
in the now. And we definitely did that. The defense made some huge stops and
we got the opportunity we did and came up big."
San Francisco, the defending NFC West champions, aims to rebound from last
week's humbling, 26-3 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
"We need to go out and work and get ready for the Seahawks," said 49ers
cornerback Carlos Rodgers. "We've got a lot of work to do. This game is going
to count more because it's in the division. This is our division to win."
PREDICTION: 49ers 24, Seahawks 17
Tennessee (2-4) at Buffalo (3-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Bills by 3
THE SKINNY: The Titans will be aiming for their fifth straight win over the
Bills as veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck attempts to reach the 200 mark in
career touchdown passes. Hasselbeck, who has 198, has plenty of options on the
outside. Nate Washington is averaging a gaudy 19.5 yards per catch in 2012 and
Kendall Wright leads all NFL rookies with 33 receptions. Buffalo, meanwhile,
is in a four-way tie in the AFC East and will try to ride the right arm of
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has a 91.7 passer rating at home in '12.
PREDICTION: Bills 30, Titans 24
Dallas (2-3) at Carolina (1-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Cowboys by 2
THE SKINNY: The Cowboys look to continue their traditional dominance over
Carolina. Dallas has won eight of nine versus the Panthers and quarterback Tony
Romo is 3-0 as a starter against Carolina. Panthers second-year QB Cam Newton
is the only player in NFL history with 5,000-plus passing yards (5,205), 25-
plus passing TDs (25) and 15-plus rush TDs (17) in his first two seasons, but
has been going through a bit of a sophomore slump.
PREDICTION: Panthers 24, Cowboys 21
Baltimore (5-1) at Houston (5-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Texans by 6 1/2
THE SKINNY: The AFC's two 5-1 teams clash at Reliant Stadium. The Ravens, who
are a perfect 6-0 all-time versus the Texans, defeated Dallas, 31-29, in Week
6. Baltimore's Jacoby Jones matched an NFL record by returning a kickoff 108
yards for a touchdown and quarterback Joe Flacco improved to 31-5 at home
in that one.
"To set the National Football League record for a kickoff return, in what
turned out to be the difference in the game, is pretty special," said Ravens
head coach John Harbaugh.
Houston suffered its first defeat of 2012 against Green Bay, spoiling the
franchise's first 5-0 start. Star defensive end J.J. Watt will aim for a sixth
consecutive game with at least one sack against Baltimore.
"We didn't play up to our standard and our level of expectations," said Texans
quarterback Matt Schaub. "We're going to have to put it behind us. The good
thing is that it only counts as one. We're going to have to refocus, watch the
film, be hard on ourselves and correct the mistakes we made. We've got to go
get ready for Baltimore."
PREDICTION: Texans 27, Ravens 21
Cleveland (1-5) at Indianapolis (2-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Colts by 3
THE SKINNY: Buoyed by their first win a week ago, the Browns will shoot for
their first winning streak in Indianapolis just days after NFL owners
approved the sale of the franchise to a group led by Jimmy Haslam. Rookies
Brandon Weeden, who has passed for 1,519 yards, the second-most in NFL history
by rookie in his team's first six games, and Trent Richardson, who leads AFC
rookies with 340 rushing yards, continue to be the on-field story in the
Forest City. Colts rookie signal-caller Andrew Luck has been even more
impressive than Weeden and is averaging 297.6 passing yards per game.
PREDICTION: Colts 24, Browns 20
Arizona (4-2) at Minnesota (4-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Vikings by 6
THE SKINNY: The quarterback carousel continues for Arizona with John Skelton
replacing the injured Kevin Kolb. Kolb lost a preseason competition with
Skelton to be Arizona's No. 1 signal-caller, but took over when Skelton
sprained an ankle in the team's Week 1 opener against Seattle. The quarterback
may not matter, however, unless the Cardinals' shaky offensive line can hold
off the Vikings' impressive pass rush.
PREDICTION: Vikings 27, Cardinals 20
Washington (3-3) at New York Giants (4-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Giants by 6 1/2
THE SKINNY: Two NFC East rivals coming off impressive Week 6 wins meet at
MetLife Stadium. The Redskins knocked off Minnesota, 38-26, behind rookie
quarterback Robert Griffin III. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2012 NFL
Draft rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first rookie QB to
rush for at least 100 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl era. With
Washington clinging to a five-point lead and facing a 3rd-and-6 with less
than three minutes remaining, Griffin sealed the victory with a 76-yard
"When Robert gets in top gear, it's like watching a track meet," said wide
receiver Santana Moss. "And he's not coming in second."
New York is coming off a 26-3 victory at San Francisco in a rematch of last
year's NFC Championship Game. The Giants recorded at least six sacks and three
interceptions while holding an opponent to three points or fewer for the first
time since Nov. 24, 1985.
"That was a good, tough, hard-nosed football game, like we expected it to be,"
said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. "It was a very good football game for our
team. Here we go now with division games."
PREDICTION: Giants 30, Redskins 21
Green Bay (3-3) at St. Louis (3-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Packers by 5 1/2
THE SKINNY: Green Bay has its groove back. Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers passed
for 338 yards and six touchdowns with a 133.8 passer rating last weekend as the
Pack took down previously unbeaten Houston. Rodgers is 2-0 lifetime versus the
Rams and has 122.7 rating in those games, something which virtually guarantees
success for Green Bay. The Packers are a perfect 24-0 when Rodgers' rating
creeps above 115.0. The Rams, meanwhile, are aiming for their first 4-0 start
at home since 2003.
PREDICTION: Packers 28, Rams 13
New Orleans (1-4) at Tampa Bay (2-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Saints by 3
THE SKINNY: Fresh off a bye week following their first victory, the Saints
return to action in Central Florida. When we last saw Drew Brees he was making
history, throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th consecutive game, surpassing
Johnny Unitas for the longest streak in NFL history. Tampa Bay hopes it
continues to get solid play from its signal-caller Josh Freeman, who has
completed 60 percent of his passes for 627 yards with four TDs in two games
since his dismal 10-of-28 performance at Dallas.
PREDICTION: Saints 28, Buccaneers 17
NY Jets (3-3) at New England (3-3), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Patriots by 10 1/2
THE SKINNY: Despite averaging an NFL-best 31.3 points per game the Patriots
find themselves in a four-way tie in the AFC East.
"We're not throwing in the towel. I know 3-3 sucks," Pats All-Pro quarterback
Tom Brady said on WEEI Radio this week. "We all feel frustrated and
disappointed with where we're at. But we've got our entire season ahead of us.
There's no better team to start here against than the Jets at 3-3. Everyone's
tied in the division. We've got to start performing better."
Brady is 16-5 all-time versus the Jets, who have kept their head above water
despite losing perhaps their two best players, cornerback Darrelle Revis and
wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
PREDICTION: Patriots 30 Jets 17
Jacksonville (1-4) at Oakland (1-4), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Raiders by 4
THE SKINNY: The Jaguars shoot for their third straight win in Oakland and will
need a big game from Maurice Jones-Drew to get it. MJD has accounted for 41
percent of the Jags' offense this season and needs 179 scrimmage yards to
reach 10,000 for his career. The Raiders will be trying to build on a
promising effort in Atlanta.
PREDICTION: Raiders 21, Jaguars 14
Pittsburgh (2-3) at Cincinnati (3-3), Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
LINE: Steelers by 2 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Steelers shoot for fifth consecutive win over the Bengals and
Ohio native Ben Roethlisberger, who surpassed Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw for
the most passing yards in franchise history (28,066) in a loss at Tennessee,
aims to continue his stellar play in the Buckeye State. "Big Ben" is 14-2 all-
time in Ohio (7-1 at Cincy and 7-1 at Cleveland). The Bengals' Andy Dalton had
a career-best 381 passing yards last Sunday, but it was all for naught as
Cincinnati allowed the Browns to get their first win of the season.
PREDICTION: Steelers 24, Bengals 23
Detroit (2-3) at Chicago (4-1), Monday, 8:35 p.m.
LINE: Bears by 5 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Lions hope to build on the team's come-from-behind victory at
Philadelphia while the Bears, who are coming off a bye, hope to improve to a
NFC North-best 5-1. Detroit rallied from a 10-point deficit to the Eagles by
scoring twice in the final 3:32 to send the game into overtime where the
venerable Jason Hanson connected on his fourth field goal of the day in the
extra frame to give the Lions the win.
The Bears are a perfect 2-0 at Soldier Field and have had plenty of rest after
dismantling Jacksonville, 41-3, in Week 5. Chicago has been led by its
opportunistic defense. The Bears are the first team in NFL history with five
interception-return touchdowns in their first five games and have returned an
interception for a touchdown in each of its past three games. Star linebacker
Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman are the first set of teammates in
NFL history to each have an interception-return touchdown in consecutive
PREDICTION: Bears 24, Lions 14
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