Three takeaways from Juan Castillo's introductory presser


This coming season will be Juan Castillo's 27th in the NFL and first with the Washington Commanders, as head coach Ron Rivera recently tabbed Castillo to replace Pete Hoener as the club's tight ends coach. 

On Wednesday, Castillo met with the local media for the first time via Zoom. Here are three highlights from the introductory press conference...

1) He's familiar with, and fond of, Logan Thomas

Castillo was most recently the offensive line coach in Chicago, but before that, he worked for Buffalo in 2017 and 2018. While with the Bills, he conveniently overlapped with Logan Thomas, the guy who'll lead the Commanders tight ends in 2022.

"We used to talk all the time when I was in Buffalo, so we have a good relationship," Castillo said about Thomas.

Thomas saw his first pro action at tight end with the Bills and, even though he was just barely getting acquainted with the position, Castillo explained that he and other offensive coaches on that staff imagined Thomas could "some day" end up emerging as the difference-maker he's become in Washington. 

"We felt that he had that kind of ability, but he was still young," Castillo said. "He was learning how to block, how to pass protect, really how to run a route. 

"I know that he's gifted, so we're really excited to get back working with him."

Thomas is much, much more of a finished product than he was when Castillo first got to know him and if he can recover from the torn ACL that ended his 2021 campaign, he'll give Castillo an exceptional starter to top the depth chart.


2) He's enticed by the potential of Thomas' backups

Because Thomas concluded the season on injured reserve and overall made two trips to I.R., John Bates received quite a few reps as a rookie. In reviewing how Bates handled that workload, Castillo came away impressed.

"John really came on last year," Castillo told reporters. "I think that he can be one of the better run blockers, pass-protecting tight ends in the NFL."

Sammis Reyes, meanwhile, currently sits behind Thomas and Bates — Ricky Seals-Jones, who was also featured in Thomas' absence, is a pending free agent — and represents a major project, seeing as 2021 was his first time actually playing the sport of football.

However, Castillo believes he possesses two things that will assist Reyes in his growth as a tight end, beginning with a shared language. 

"Sam speaks Spanish like I do," Castillo said. "I think that just in itself, Sam's going to feel comfortable with me."

Then there's Castillo's experience coaching the many undrafted players that he's met during his career in the league, a category that Reyes belongs to.

"I've had a lot of college free agents develop for me and play for me, so you have a feel for guys like that," Castillo said, before stating that the most vital part of tutoring those overlooked assets is getting them "to know you care about them and [getting] them to understand that they have to outwork everybody." 

In Reyes, Castillo sure seems to have a player prepared to do just that.

3) He's got a clear goal in mind as he begins his tenure

As of now, Castillo projects to be the lone new face on Washington's coaching staff, something he pointed out on Wednesday. Therefore, he's keen on accomplishing one objective in particular.

"I have to earn respect," he said. "You know how you earn respect? You outwork everybody. That's how you earn respect. To me, that's the biggest thing."

Hoener, the man Castillo is replacing, was beloved by his charges and also renowned for his... creative language. Castillo appears to understand that he'll have to grind if he wants to draw the same amount of acclaim that Hoener did for the franchise.   

Now, when he was asked to describe his own on-field style, Castillo gave an answer that indicated he'll be a bit quieter than Hoener — until a situation arises where he has to match his predecessor's volume and vulgarity.

"Everybody has to be their own way," Castillo said. "I'm a teacher. I teach. Sometimes it's hard to be able to teach and yell at the same time, but there's times where you do have to raise your voice. There's times where you may hear a word that I wouldn't say around young kids."

"Certain people respond a certain way," he continued. "As a coach, that's the feel that you get once you develop a relationship."