Philadelphia, PA – Adjectives can make or break a football coach.
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 week.
"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 starters.
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 hot.
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.
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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 touchdown run.
"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 games.
PREDICTION: Bears 24, Lions 14