PHILADELPHIA – Before Steve Spagnuolo chose New Orleans, the former Rams coach was offered an unspecified position with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Spagnuolo was highly sought-after following his dismissal from St. Louis. Eagles coach Andy Reid wanted his old friend to join his staff and work with current defensive co-ordinator Juan Castillo. But Spagnuolo picked the Saints over returning to the Eagles, where he served as an assistant coach from 1999-2006.
“When Steve was released from the Rams, I did offer him a spot here to coach, if he needed one, a place to land with open arms,” Reid said Tuesday. “And my feeling was that you can have two great coaches on defence and that’s even better than just having Juan himself, so that’s about as far as it went there. We didn’t talk about titles. We didn’t go into any of that. He had opportunities to look at other places. He wanted to do that, which I completely understand.
“And he ended up going to New Orleans.”
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the season finale on Jan. 1, Reid was more candid than he’s ever been during his 13 seasons in Philadelphia. He said he understood owner Jeffrey Lurie’s comments about needing to do a better job, and expects more from himself and the team following a disappointing 8-8 season.
“I understand where he’s coming from and I’m right there with him on that,” Reid said. “He didn’t say anything in there that ruffled my feathers or anything else that I don’t completely agree with. And listen, I know that’s how the fans feel and I understand that. I completely understand that. And it’s a frustration, I understand that. My point is that we’re going to bust our tail to get it right, that’s where I’m at.”
Reid ended his monthlong silence a day after hiring former Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles to coach the secondary.
His decision to retain Castillo won’t be popular among fans. Castillo was heavily criticized in his first season at a new position after coaching the offensive line for 13 years.
Spagnuolo would’ve been a perfect fit in Philadelphia. He worked under Eagles defensive co-ordinator Jim Johnson for eight seasons, and was the defensive co-ordinator for the New York Giants when they beat New England in the 2008 Super Bowl. Spagnuolo joined the Saints two weeks after the Rams fired him. He was 10-38 in three seasons in St. Louis.
“Spags and I talk all of the time and that’s an important part of this,” Reid said. “When he was released, I had obviously talked to him and said, ‘If you’d like to come back here, this door is always open. You and Juan would be spectacular together.’ And he wanted to think about it for a while, and then he had an opportunity to take a couple looks at other places.
“He knows how things operate here, so he went and looked at other places; never came in here. So he went and visited other places and he loved the situation in New Orleans and I’m happy for him.”
The Eagles were preseason favourites to reach the Super Bowl after adding several high-profile players last off-season. But they started 1-4 and never recovered. They weren’t eliminated from playoff contention until the next-to-last game in a mediocre division, and won their last four games to finish one game behind the Giants.
Reid said he never considered not returning to coach his 14th season, but wanted to take time to evaluate his performance before speaking to reporters.
“I wanted to make sure I stepped back and looked at it,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that I can still do the things that I think are the responsibilities of the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl. So that’s what you do.
“You step back and you analyze those things.”
Note: Reid said defensive tackle Mike Patterson is “doing very well” following surgery last Friday for a brain AVM. He said doctors expect Patterson to be ready for training camp.