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Juan Castillo’s defense starting to get some credit

Andy Reid, Juan Castillo

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid, left, talks with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


For much of this season, fans and media alike heaped scorn on Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, whose defense was one of the most disappointing units in football -- and who looked woefully unprepared to be a defensive coordinator after two decades as an offensive assistant.

But late in the season the Eagles are finally playing good football, and they’re still in the NFC East race, and all of a sudden Castillo doesn’t look like so bad a coach.

Castillo’s defense was singled out on this week’s NFL Matchup, the ESPN show that gives great Xs and Os breakdowns via the all-22 film, for the stunts and blitzes it employed to pressure the quarterbacks in their back-to-back wins over the Dolphins and Jets.

“When you look at this Eagles defense now under Juan Castillo, it’s starting to evolve,” Ron Jaworski said. “A lot more multiple fronts, different looks.”

Jaworski showed two different sacks, one against the Dolphins and one against the Jets, and how the Eagles used a creative front to get to the quarterback on both plays.

“The only two players in three-point stances were defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins,” Jaworski said. “Ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin were inside standing up -- an unconventional alignment. It was a combination stunt and blitz with linebacker Casey Matthews. It created identification and execution issues for the Dolphins’ offensive line. You had four offensive linemen blocking three rushers. No one accounted for Matthews. This was a change up for the Eagles.”

Babin sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez after he lined up as an inside linebacker, a look that created some confusion for the Jets’ offensive linemen, who didn’t know who was supposed to block Babin.

“This time you had two blocking Patterson,” Jaworski pointed out. “No one accounted for Babin. The Eagles did not win with numbers. They won with scheme -- a new wrinkle that has been very effective the last two weeks.”

Babin had three sacks against the Dolphins and three more against the Jets, and he now leads the league with 18 sacks. And Castillo doesn’t look like such a bad defensive coordinator anymore.