Matt Nagy hired Juan Castillo in 2020 to replace Harry Hiestand. It was a surprising move at the time, given Hiestand’s strong reputation. The Chicago Bears head coach insisted he knew what he was doing. He had a history with Castillo, who’d coached offensive linemen since the 1990s. Some were encouraged by the move. Maybe his prior experience with Andy Reid in Philadelphia would enable him to help the Bears.
Not everybody was impressed by the decision, though. Castillo has plenty of critics these days. One source called him overly opinionated and inflexible. A man stuck in his ways. When the line failed to improve, his star began to fall quickly. One person that has no issue blaming Castillo for several of the problems last year is former Bears scout Greg Gabriel. On the Ross Tucker Football podcast, he said that many of the issues from last season were rooted in Castillo’s flawed conditioning approach.
Nowhere did it show up more than with rookies Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.
Gabriel explained that Castillo’s biggest mistake was asking both players to carry weight around the 335-340 lbs mark. That might’ve been good for the 1990s when teams were still more run-oriented. In a passing league where defenses are faster than ever, that asks for trouble. Both Borom and Jenkins struggled, as did the rest of the line. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that Ryan Poles’ first order of business was getting everybody to drop weight, increasing their quickness.
Juan Castillo likely won’t run an O-line again.
Jenkins is already down 20 lbs and 5% body fat. One can safely assume Borom is back to the 320-lbs mark he reached going into the draft. A huge advantage for the Bears is new strength and conditioning coach Jim Arthur. He is a disciple of Rusty Jones, one of the best strength coaches in modern league history. The same man ran Chicago’s weight room during their peak run from 2005 to 2012. Arthur will have those guys in great shape.
Offensive line coach Chris Morgan is younger and more open to new blocking techniques. The truth is that Juan Castillo got left behind by the NFL over the past decade. There was a reason teams weren’t lining up to hire him after leaving Baltimore. He had the good fortune of a friend in Nagy running the Bears to give him one last chance. Thankfully it didn’t last any longer, or Justin Fields might’ve been killed.