Juan Castillo's eyes grew red and watery and his voice quivered slightly when he was asked if he ever lost confidence in himself during a rough first season as a defensive coordinator.
"The only thing for me is: I don't want to fail my head coach," Castillo said. "I don't want to fail him, man. I don't want to fail my boss."
The Philadelphia Eagles aren't going to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and just the fourth time in coach Andy Reid's 13 seasons. While there are many reasons why the team failed to live up to enormous expectations and plenty of culprits to share the blame, Castillo took most of the heat throughout the season.
Since his surprising switch to defensive coordinator after 13 seasons coaching the offensive linemen, Castillo has been under the microscope in Philadelphia. Every move has been intensely scrutinized.
It's no surprise, then, that Castillo's job security is in question entering Sunday's season finale against the Washington Redskins. NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported earlier this week that St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, an assistant with the Eagles from 1999 to 2006, could replace Castillo in Philadelphia.
But all Castillo cares about is right now.
"I just want to see us keep getting better," he said. "I think that going through the year, we started slowly, and that's not the way we wanted to start. But we're finishing up where we wanted to finish up and we wanted to be able to do some of the things that we're doing."
Players defended Castillo all season, saying they just needed time to adjust to his system. Considering Castillo had never coached an NFL defense and the Eagles had several new starters, the lockout probably affected them more than many teams.
"I think people are really stepping up and making plays when they're put in a position to," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "As for earlier in the season, we weren't doing that very well. And obviously, when that happens, it all reflects on the coaches. The players have just stepped it up more. We were put in a good position earlier and we didn't come away with the plays or the victories when we needed them."
The Associated Press contributed to this report