Standing inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Juan Castillo took a look around and let it sink in that he's quickly gone from the coaching unemployment line to joining a Ravens staff that's in the Super Bowl.
Castillo last Monday chose the Ravens' job offer as a consultant now and a run-game coordinator for the AFC champions next season over several other opportunities.
Fired by the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive coordinator, the veteran offensive line coach met with the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals and also debated offers from the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs.
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"I had a few opportunities, a few teams," Castillo told The Baltimore Sun. "This was the place for me. It was an opportunity to come and work for somebody I knew and an organization I respected. Ozzie Newsome, I've always watched him and the people he draft and thought it was the right place for me. The opportunity to join them was exciting. The transition isn't bad at all.
"What happened is I went down to Arizona and had a dinner with the owner. That was an awesome talk. I could have gone back with Andy Reid in Kansas City. Marty Mornhinweg, when he got the job with the Jets, got in touch with me. When you get let go like that, you find out what your body of work and reputation in the NFL is like. You see how much you're respected."
The timing for Castillo is ideal, being hired officially one week prior to the Ravens' arrival in New Orleans for a Super Bowl matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
"It's a great opportunity just to see these coaches in preparation for the Super Bowl," Castillo said. "That will help me. And just to see how they do things for next year because I'm going to be part of the staff, and just to meet some of the players and get to see some of the players work and be able to really evaluate and see the players."
With the Eagles, Castillo built a reputation as one of the NFL's top offensive line coaches. He helped develop some relatively obscure players into reliable starters, including three former undrafted free agents in centers Hank Fraley, Jamaal Jackson and Bubba Miller.
"The most important thing is can you develop players, not just first-round draft picks," Castillo said. "We won a lot of games with those guys in Philadelphia."
What's also important to Castillo is the bond he shares with Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whom he worked with in Philadelphia on the Reid staff for a decade.
"It's amazing to see John get in front of the team because I know him and I used to watch him when he was in Philadelphia," Castillo said. "He does a great job of motivating the players and keeping them focused and keeping them loose. I'm proud of him and I'll show my appreciation by working hard and saying thank you for letting me come work for you."
In terms of job responsibility, Castillo will operate as a go-between with running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery and offensive line coach Andy Moeller and provide recommendations to offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell regarding personnel and the game plan.
"I did that in Philadelphia, but I didn't have the title of run-game coordinator," Castillo said. "You put together the running game. Everybody helps, but you're the lead guy as far as assignments and things to do, games to watch. You put it together, you present it to the offensive coordinator. He makes the final decision, but you help him along the way."
Although Castillo didn't have a designated podium or spot for interviews, the Texas native was a popular interview for a variety of media organizations ranging from Mexico to Brazil.
"When you get let go like that, you feel like you let them down," Castillo said. "It's true. You let them down, and they're very prideful. It's ironic because they're happy now. It makes them feel proud. I will represent them next year."
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