Steve Spagnuolo Coming Back to Eagles?

Steve Spagnuolo Coming Back to Eagles?

Andy Reid appears to have saved his job in Philadelphia, if it was ever truly on the line, and a recent surge on the defensive side of the ball had fans wondering whether Juan Castillo had done the same. For much of the season, Castillo appeared primed to be the fall guy whether Reid stayed or not. Now, according to one report, Castillo may indeed be out, with the Eagles bringing a familiar face back into the organization.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Steve Spagnuolo will be fired by the St. Louis Rams, replaced by current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden. Spags has a soft landing in place though, if this report has any validity. Per Acee's sources, it is "all but certain" that Spagnuolo will be named the Eagles defensive coordinator. That's a lot of possibilities that need to become realities in order for everything to shake out as described... But it's not farfetched to think Spagnuolo would be on the Eagles' short list if he's available and Castillo is shown the door.

Spagnuolo was a popular position coach for the Eagles from 1999-2006, when he led the linebackers and defensive backs under Jim Johnson. He then had an excellent but brief stay as defensive coordinator of the Giants, who went on beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Most Eagles fans probably remember not knowing who to root for in that one, but Spags being the architect of the winning defense softened the blow some.

Spagnuolo was a hot commodity when hired to be the head coach of the Rams in 2009, but things ultimately didn't go well for him in St. Louis, and it appears all but certain he'll coach his final game for them against the 49ers this weekend. He has one year left on his contract with the Rams.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some sobering notes on how historically bad the Rams' 2-13 season has been—and not just on the offensive side of the ball. After a 1-15 first season in StL, Spags coached the Rams to a very respectable 7-9 mark last year. However, even before the 2011 season began, you could see that the team faced a brutal schedule, and injuries to Sam Bradford and even backup AJ Feeley made a winning season even less likely.

For the Eagles, it's a timeline that appears to have been off by one year. Had Spagnuolo's Rams run ended in 2010, he might have been the perfect fit for a Philly team that was making headlines by targeting top talent once the league's hiatus ended. There were initially very few voices of dissent about the players they brought in, but Castillo was seen as a likely Reid mistake from day one, having never coached in a defensive capacity at the NFL level. It took his unit a long time to gel, but it lately has (albeit against some lesser quarterbacks).

Many Eagles fans won't lay all the blame at Castillo's feet, either. He had a lockout-shortened off-season, some questionable personnel, and an offense with a penchant for giving short fields due to turnovers. Castillo's failures will be seen as an extension of Reid's.

If the report is true and Spagnuolo is hired, the announcement will be far more popular than when we found out the offensive line coach was taking over the defense, with assistants already firmly in place. Many questions will still need to be answered if Spagnuolo does indeed come back to Philly, including what he'll do about the personnel he may inherit in his coaches and players.

We'll take a closer look as to what a Spagnuolo return could mean once it's closer to official. Again, this is just a preliminary report with unnamed sources, and Spagnuolo is still set to coach a game for the Rams while Castillo is at the defensive helm for the Eagles at least through the week. While it's certainly possible the Birds would want him back, what's surprising here is that anyone with certain knowledge of such a plan would have let it get to a reporter. The Eagles don't usually operate that way, and it'd be disrespectful to Castillo, whom they've highly regarded for years. We'll see how it plays out.

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Photo by Scott Rovak-US Presswire

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).