If Not Castillo, Then Who
It’s contingency plan time, people.
With word that coveted coordinating commodity Steve Spagnuolo has reportedly signed on with the Saints shouldn’t come tearing or whining or sulking.
He’s gone. It’s done.
But the Eagles search isn’t.
Or, at least it might not be.
Bear in mind: A month past Week 17, two and a half weeks since Jeffrey Lurie’s year-end press conference, and no news on the future of Juan Castillo, the team might have already made a decision. And that decision might've influenced Spagnuolo's.
But whether the team passed or missed out on Spagnuolo there are still options outside Castillo.
There’s Vic Fangio, the from-nowhere play-caller in San Francisco. He can’t be contacted throughout his 49ers magical run. But Fangio has links to the area. Some are loose; his first pro coaching gig was with the Philadelphia Stars (USFL). Some substantial; he hails fom Dunmore, Penn.
Given the bang-up job he’s done for Jim Harbaugh—a year ago, the team allowed 21.6 points per game for a No. 16 league rank; Fangio helped shave that number to 14.3 points per game, second-best in football—he’s proven equipped for a fixer-upper.
Then there’s Chuck Pagano, first-year coordinator in Baltimore. His candidacy carries skepticism; is Pagano the product of Rex Ryan residue? But given his specialty, coaching up DBs, he could be just the fix for the Eagles.
With a short list like Pagano’s—in 2001, the Browns led the league with 33 interceptions, 28 from Pagano’s pupils in the secondary; in 2003, the Cleveland Browns set a franchise record for fewest TDs allowed—he seems more than qualified to milk the most out of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel.
And out of Nnamdi Asomugha, who Pagano worked with in 2005 and 2006 in Oakland.
For a team lagging behind in accounting for the tight ends that rule the sport, Pagano’s savvy might be just the thing come draft day, especially in a safety-shallow pool like this one coming.
Both Fangio and Pagano seem possibilities. None have been implicated anywhere on the league’s head coaching carousel. None have even been mentioned for any spot, anywhere. But there are reaches out there too.
Wade Philips—whose scheme helped Houston maintain its No. 4 status after Super Mario Williams went down for the season in Week 5, a complete 180 from its No. 29 rank a year ago—might not have been interested in the Tampa Bay head coaching vacancy.
But who’s to say a guy with a bruised ego from unceremonious exits from Dallas and Buffalo (albeit as a head coach) wouldn’t want another reclamation project to pad his resume? Who’s to say Phillips wouldn’t want Philadelphia?
Dennis Allen, defensive coordinator of the Broncos, and Winston Moss, linebackers coach of the Packers, aren’t likely hires for coordinator positions, given that both have been given looks for the top job in Oakland.
Moss should pique interest in particular: he interviewed for the Eagles DC job a year ago, and seems the perfect mentor for likely first-round linebackers Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burflict.
The Eagles already missed out on a few fronts, namely Gregg Williams (who went from New Orleans to St. Louis), Alan Williams (promoted from Colts DB coach to Vikings DC), Tim Banks (recruited away from Cincinnati by the Fighting Illini).
But there are still upgrades out there.
The Eagles will have competition. The Dolphins (lost Mike Nolan to Atlanta), Raiders (fired Chuck Bresnahan) both need coordinators, as will whatever teams have their play-callers plucked to fill head coaching vacancies.
But there’s plenty for the team to market.
It has the perfect mix of all-stars in Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Asomugha and Samuel, and uber room for improvement and dibs on the No. 15 pick in April’s draft.
Who wouldn’t want that?
The more poignant question: Will the Eagles will want anyone other than Castillo?