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Bills hire Juan Castillo as OL coach/run game coordinator

Sean McDermott’s replacement in Philadelphia is his first hire in Buffalo.

Sean McDermott hasn’t even been properly introduced as the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills, but he’s already begun to assemble his coaching staff.

His first hire? The guy who replaced him when he was fired from the Eagles.

Per Baltimore Sun repoter Jeff Zrebiec, McDermott will bring in Juan Castillo to coach the offensive line and serve as the run game coordinator. Castillo brings in a wealth of experience as an offensive line coach, having spent 16 years coaching the position in the NFL. From 1998 to 2010, he coach the offensive lines of the Eagles, a timeline that almost entirely coincides with McDermott’s stay in Philly in a variety of roles. For the past four seasons, Castillo has served on John Harbaugh’s staff with the Ravens. The last three of those seasons have been as the OL coach, with the first coming as the run game coordinator.

Castillo is probably best known, however, for inexplicably rising from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator when McDermott was let go after the 2010 season. Having last served as a defensive coach in 1989 (as a Texas high school, no less), the Eagles actually put together a top-10 defense in his first season on the job (with the 2011 “Dream Team”) before collapsing in 2012 along with the rest of the team, after which Andy Reid and the coaching staff were let go and replaced by Chip Kelly. The Eagles played in Buffalo in 2011, a game the Bills won 31-24 on a walk-off hard count from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The role Castillo will be filling in Buffalo is an important one. The Bills have been the NFL’s top rushing team for two straight seasons under the tutelage of Greg Roman (who is joining Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore) and Anthony Lynn. The Ravens were the 28th-best rushing team in the NFL last season, but dealt with a revolving door at running back with Terrance West, Justin Forsett, and Kenneth Dixon all vying for the top job while not being able to earn it (Forsett was eventually released). In his primary role, however, Castillo has been responsible for the development of a great deal of quality offensive linemen, including two Pro Bowlers in guards Kelechi Osmele and Marshall Yanda.

The hire leaves former Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer out in the cold for the moment. There hasn’t been any word yet on what McDermott plans to do with the coaching staff in place already, although Lynn is considered a strong candidate to take over the Chargers’ vacant head coaching position and could bring some staff with him if he goes. Kromer has served as an offensive coordinator in Chicago, a role that has yet to be filled in Buffalo. Of course, it’s also possible that McDermott will hire an experience quarterbacks coach to fill the role of passing game coordinator as well, although that would put playcalling responsibilities up in the air.

Castillo seems to be a solid opening hire for McDermott. Hopefully, the rest look just as good.