Andy Reid put himself on notice.
Saying he "took full responsibility" for hiring Juan Castillo in the first place, Reid fired his defensive coordinator only 21 months after the Eagles head coach shockingly promoted his long-time offensive line coach.
Defensive backs coach Todd Bowles, whose January hiring was viewed by many as Reid's fail-safe plan in case his defense struggled, took over for Castillo on Tuesday.
"I put Juan in this situation, and things didn't work out the way I had hoped," Reid said. "I take full responsibility for putting him in that situation. On the other hand of that, if I don't think things are working for the best for the organization at that particular time, I've got to be responsible for that, too."
The Eagles are 3-3 and have off until Oct. 28 when they host the 6-0 Falcons. They are 11-11 since Reid named Castillo defensive coordinator in January 2011.
On Monday, following a devastating 26-23 overtime loss to the Lions in which the Eagles coughed up a 10-point lead with five minutes to play, Reid said that he was going to evaluate his entire team - the coaching staff, the players and himself.
"I think, collectively, we all can do better," Reid said when he was asked how his self-evaluation went, "but I surely can do a better job myself."
Reid said that Castillo's firing was "one of the moves" that he will make during the off week. Asked specifically about quarterback Michael Vick's job security, Reid gave a similar answer to the one he gave on Monday when asked about Castillo.
"As I sit here today he's the starting quarterback," he replied.
Reid said that he was still evaluating offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and special teams coordinator Bobby April. Both have helmed units near the bottom of the league in many statistics.
The Eagles offense is 11th in total yards but 31st in points per game and turnovers. Reid, who handled the offensive play-calling for the most part until he handed it over to Mornhinweg in 2006, was asked if he would consider taking the job back.
"I like calling the plays," Reid said. "I think I have a good play-caller."
Castillo's firing could be seen as a move made out of desperation. Reid has never fired a coach mid-season. He, presumably, has 10 games to save his job.
"That's not how I go about [my business]," Reid said. "I do what I think is best for the Philadelphia Eagles, cut and dry."
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said before the season that another 8-8 record would not be enough for Reid to return for a 15th season, and he said that the Eagles needed to show "substantial improvement" over last season's .500 finish.
Lurie, in Chicago at the NFL owners meetings, said that he had initial reservations when Reid chose Castillo to replace Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator.
"Yes, I did," Lurie told the Philadelphia Daily News. "But I let Andy make that call. I respected his decision. He felt it was the best thing to do at the time, and I don't interfere in that area."
Lurie backed up Reid's claim that he made the decision to fire Castillo, and he made it alone. The owner said that he sympathized with Castillo, who first joined the franchise in 1995 as an offensive assistant under coach Ray Rhodes.
"Maybe he was put in an unfortunate position too early," Lurie said. "That's what I would say. That's not Juan's fault that he was put in that position too early."
Reid said he made the decision to fire Castillo on Monday evening after watching film of the first six games and several from last season. He then called Castillo to his office.
"I talked to him last night and again this morning," Reid said. "It was positive. It was as real as I could be to a good friend. He understands the business. Thank goodness he understands it, and he knows that he's going to be all right. This isn't the end of his road."
An emotional Castillo sat down with NBC10 and was asked by Vai Sikahema what he would remember most about his 18 years with the Eagles.
"The opportunity and not taking advantage of the opportunity for my family, for Coach Reid, for the city and for our guys," Castillo said. "That's what a warrior does. We talk about that all the time. No excuses, man. You get it done."
Castillo's defense appeared to be performing much better than last season when the Eagles blew five fourth-quarter leads. The Eagles' NFL rank in yards allowed (12th) and points surrendered (13th) were similar to last season (8th and 10th, respectively), but there was significant improvement in the red zone and on third down.
The fourth-quarter struggles, however, crept back the last two weeks as the Steelers and Lions rallied to beat the Eagles late.
"To sit here and say that wasn't part of the whole thing, that's part of the whole thing," Reid said when he was asked if the fourth-quarter collapses played into Castillo's end. "There are a lot things that go into it. You just can't pick one thing out."
Bowles, during a separate news conference, said that the No. 1 thing the defense needed to improve upon was finishing games. Part of the problem in putting away teams has been the lack of pressure generated by the defensive line. Last season, the Eagles finished tied for first with 50 sacks, but they have only seven thus far.
Castillo did not have much authority over the defensive line in terms of scheme. Reid hired Jim Washburn even before Castillo because he wanted to bring the defensive line coach's wide-nine scheme to the Eagles.
It changed the defense dramatically from one that was aggressive under former coordinator Jim Johnson and McDermott to one that did not blitz very often.
"It's saying intact," Bowles said. "I mean, we run a wide nine. That's what we do. But gameplan-wise, it depends on whether we do other things along with it."
Reid had tried to interview Bowles for the coordinator job 21 months ago, but his request was denied by the Dolphins. Bowles was the assistant head coach in charge of the secondary in Miami from 2008-2011. He served as interim coach after Tony Sparano was fired with three games remaining last season. The Dolphins finished 2-1 under Bowles.
Reid has said on several occasions that Bowles is head coaching material, although he has never been a coordinator.
"I like the way he worked with Juan," Reid said. "He handled that the right way. He didn't try to come in and cut Juan's legs out from under him or any of that."
Reid said his intent in hiring Bowles in January was not as a backup plan in case Castillo faltered, although that is exactly what ended up happening. He said later that he does not think about how Castillo's firing could affect his future with the Eagles.
"I don't ever go there," Reid said. "I don't worry about that. In this business you learn to worry about what you're going to do that day