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Firing of Juan Castillo an act of a desperate coach

The stunning firing of Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is one of those fascinating stories that can only happen in the NFL. It's not just a game of inches. It's a life of inches. A profession.

One play

If Michael Vick converts a third-and-four with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday during the Eagles' eventual loss to the Detroit Lions, Castillo still has a job. One more first down from the Philadelphia offense would have put the game away. There's simply no way Reid would have fired Castillo if the Eagles were 4-2, sitting atop the NFC East.

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Vick is the biggest reason why Castillo was fired. The Eagles defense has been good this year, albeit not great. It's certainly carried the offense overall. Andy Reid's offense is 31st in the league in points and turnovers. Philadelphia's last two possessions Sunday were three-and-outs. In overtime, the offense went 21 yards backwards. They had three turnovers overall. Vick and Reid have been the problems.

Strong replacement

Andy Reid doesn't make this move unless he had Todd Bowles in place. Bowles was viewed as a potential future head coach under Bill Parcells in Dallas and then as an assistant head coach/secondary coach in Miami. Castillo hasn't done a bad job by the numbers since midseason of last year.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's comments after Sunday's game, however, indicated some player unrest. It sounds like they didn't believe in the coaching. Perhaps Castillo was in over his head. Only the men in the building truly know.

Philadelphia's defense played well down the stretch last year. They have been slightly above average this year. Reid said Tuesday that "average wasn't good enough." The Eagles have been the definition of average since the start of 2011: 11 wins. 11 losses. They wish their offense was average.

Desperate times

These are the moves you make when you know your job is on the line. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made it clear that anything short of a playoff appearance this year will get Reid fired. Reid has ten games to save his own job. He looked at this coaching swap just like he would look at his depth chart.

Bowles is a more experienced defensive coach than Castillo. He should be an upgrade. Even though Castillo may be one of Reid's closest friends in the profession, he got released just like any player who has a more talented backup behind him.

That may not be fair by normal job standards, but that's football.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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