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Spagnuolo's future, Eagles' draft position

One of the first decisions the Eagles will have to make following Sunday's regular-season finale against the Redskins is what to do at defensive coordinator.

And more specifically, will Juan Castillo be back? Will they sell the idea that Castillo has improved as the season's gone on? That he's earned a full offseason to work with his players and show what he can do?

Or will they decide that some of their most talented defensive players - Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi Asomugha - are on the wrong side of the 30, and a proven defensive coordinator is necessary to make a Super Bowl run in 2012?

That decision brings us to a report out of San Diego. Per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers plan on cutting ties with head coach Norv Turner once the season's over. But maybe more importantly, the team could part ways with general manager A.J. Smith.

How would that affect the Eagles? Per Acee, it would create a domino effect that would result in Steve Spagnuolo becoming the Birds' new defensive coordinator.

The story goes like this: Smith would be hired in St. Louis to become the Rams' new general manager, and he would bring with him Jon Gruden as head coach. According to the report, Gruden has decided to return to coaching in 2012, and ESPN is already preparing for him to leave.

Here's the key part from Acee that affects the Eagles:

League sources also said this week that it is all but certain that Spagnuolo will join Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.

Spagnuolo, of course, spent eight seasons as a defensive assistant here from 1999-2006. The Rams are currently 2-13. They were 7-9 last year and 1-15 in Spagnulo's first season in St. Louis.

What would need to happen for the aforementioned scenario to play out? The Rams would have to cut ties with Spagnuolo, which seems likely, based on several reports out of St. Louis and around the country. The Eagles would have to cut ties with Castillo. And Spagnuolo would have to want to join the Eagles. He will likely have other options: becoming a defensive coordinator elsewhere, taking a year off, etc.

The Eagles would also have to decide on their defensive philosophy if they brought in Spagnuolo. In St. Louis, and before that with the Giants, Spagnuolo relied on a blitz/zone-blitz scheme. While the Eagles have blitzed more in recent weeks, for much of the season, they've relied on pressure from the front four and Jim Washburn's wide-nine. Through 15 weeks, the Eagles lead the NFL with 49 sacks, and 45 of them have come from defensive linemen.

There's one more game to go, and then it will be decision time once again for the Eagles, as they look ahead to 2012.


If the season ended today, the Eagles would have the 13th pick in the first round. They currently have the same record (7-8) as the Cardinals, Seahawks, Chargers and Bears. The tiebreak is strength of schedule. In other words, the team with the weakest strength of schedule gets the higher pick.

There are currently 11 teams with a worse record than the Eagles. The Birds' pick can be no higher than No. 9, depending on what happens next week. There are currently six 8-7 teams, so the Eagles could drop several spots with a win against the Redskins.

The Eagles would also have picks 44 and 48 (in the second round) if the season ended today. They have their own pick, along with the Cardinals' selection from the Kevin Kolb deal.

If you missed it from Monday, I posted Man Up on the defense.

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