Reid: Eagles were better with Castillo than without him

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Reid: Eagles were better with Castillo than without him

This is as close as Andy Reid has come to admitting it was a huge mistake to fire Juan Castillo.

When all was said and done, we were playing better defense with Juan than without Juan, Reid conceded Monday. Hes a tremendous football coach.

Reid was fired a week ago Monday after the Eagles went 4-12 in his 14th season as head coach. He was hired by the Chiefs by the end of the week, and this past Monday spoke with Philly media about his tenure with the Eagles.

Most of the brief chat was fairly mundane, but his comments about Castillo were interesting because they go right to the heart of what went wrong here this past season and why Reid is no longer coach of the Eagles.

And the reality is that the Eagles were right in the middle of the playoff hunt when Reid fired Castillo, only to become one of the worst teams in the NFL with one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history once he was replaced.

When Reid fired Castillo on Oct. 15, the Eagles were 3-3, ranked 12th in the NFL in yards allowed and allowing 19.7 points per game. Opposing quarterbacks were completing 53 percent of their passes lowest in the NFL.

In 10 games after Todd Bowles was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator, the Eagles went 1-7, gave up 27.8 points per game and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 67 percent of their passes second-highest in the NFL.

QBs had a 68.4 passer rating vs. the Eagles under Castillo and a 123.6 rating under Bowles.

I think thats a tribute to Juan, but I did what I did and thats my responsibility in both cases, Reid said in a conference call with Philly media set up by the Chiefs. The quarterback rating when I released him was pretty good.

Who knows what would have happened had Reid kept Castillo and fired defensive coordinator Jim Washburn instead of dismissing Castillo and then firing Washburn on Nov. 12.

But Reids feelings about Castillo are clear, and the same guy he fired in October hes now trying to hire as offensive line coach with the Chiefs.

Reids other interesting comments Monday were in regard to the Eagles internal power struggle that resulted in Joe Banners ouster and re-emergence with the Browns, and owner Jeff Luries remarks that Banner interfered in the Eagles 2010 and 2011 drafts.

Reid, like Lurie, didnt mention Banner by name but said the Eagles recent decline from NFC Championship Game appearance in 2008 to wild-card playoff loser in 2009 and 2010 to 8-8 in 2011 and 4-12 last year can be traced to the dysfunctional front office.

I would tell you the most important thing is that everybodys got to be pulling in the same direction, he said. Were all in it together, all pulling the same way.

When that gets out of whack, bad things happen. Thats how this league works. If you get a little bit out of whack, youre not going to be successful.

For years, Lurie, Banner, Reid and Roseman all worked together. Now Reid is in Kansas City, Banners in Cleveland and Roseman has more power than ever working under Lurie in Philly.

Lurie, Roseman and President Don Smolenski are currently running the Eagles search to replace Reid.

Howies a young guy whos going to do a phenomenal job, Reid said.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”