It was a disaster from the start. All of it. The decision to hire Jim Washburn as defensive line coach before Andy Reid even found a defensive coordinator. The decision a couple weeks later to make Juan Castillo his defensive coordinator. The decision to replace Castillo with Howard Mudd and his gimmicky offensive line scheme.
In Washburn and Mudd, Reid got two veteran line coaches with glowing reputations but one with a novelty scheme that can’t produce sustainable results and the other with a blocking system that might have worked for Peyton Manning and the Colts but was ill-suited to the quarterback and personnel the Eagles have.
And in Castillo, Reid got a defensive coordinator who was not only miscast from the beginning but forced to work with a defensive line coach who had little respect for the former offensive line coach and didn’t hesitate to show it, two team insiders – one player, one assistant coach – said in the last few days.
The whole thing was built the wrong way. You can’t hire a defensive line coach and then a coordinator. It takes the traditional power structure of a coaching staff and makes a mockery of it. How could Castillo be expected to lead that defensive meeting room when one of his own coaches was conspiring against him?
A coordinator must lead all the position coaches. If they don’t all respect him, then the players won’t all respect him, and the whole chain of command falls to pieces.
Castillo is a good man who was put in an impossible situation. Washburn, a lifetime defensive coach who’s never been shy about speaking his mind and trampling anyone in his way, often made his disdain for Castillo clear.
Washburn operated apart from Castillo, running his own little defensive line fiefdom and often either ignoring Castillo or derisively calling him “Juanita” in front of his players, the veteran defensive player said. He was condescending and confrontational and embarrassed Castillo frequently in meetings and at practice and also went over the line criticizing his players at times.
The current Eagles assistant coach said both Washburn and Mudd looked down on the other position coaches, held themselves in higher regard than the others and rarely interacted with their colleagues
"Did you ever see Howard or Wash walk off the field after practice with another position coach or one of the coordinators?" he said. "Nope. They were either by themselves or with each other."
Even after Castillo was fired in October and replaced by Todd Bowles, a respected veteran defensive coach, Washburn continued to be difficult, the defensive player said. And when slumping one-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, who he had coached for years in Tennessee and was very close with, was released last week, Washburn became more disruptive than ever.
Babin was all about compiling sacks, never about winning, never about being part of a team, and it turns out Washburn was exactly the same. No coincidence they were dismissed less than a week apart.
Washburn followed Babin out the front door of the NovaCare Complex Monday morning, the latest casualty of a disastrous season and a disastrous series of decisions Reid made in a two-week span in late January and early February of 2011 (see story).
Washburn was actually a very good coach when it came to teaching young guys technique and getting them to play hard.
But his system was flawed. The Wide 9 doesn’t work.