Philadelphia Eagles Have to Be Patient with Their New-Look Defense

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 12, 2013

Aug 9, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) rushes against the Philadelphia Eagles en route to a touchdown during the first half of a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Patriots won 31-22. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Williams won't shut up. I'm not necessarily saying it's a good thing or a bad thing, but Williams has been running his mouth since the moment he arrived in Philadelphia. Teams need some feisty players, though, and you could argue that the Eagles didn't have enough of that in recent seasons. 

I don't mind Williams attempting to light a fire under Philadelphia's new-look defense by suggesting that nobody fears them. That's what he told the media after a lackluster effort in the preseason opener against New England.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

"I feel like we got to establish a tenacity, a tough-nosed defense, a hard-nosed defense, something that's to be feared when it comes out to each and every week. Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple of times when I spoke to him. He was talking about bring that fear back here. Right now, I don't know if there's anybody out there that fears this defense, especially after last week. So I think we have to come together, find a way to get back to those old days when Brian Dawkins was here. Strike the fear in individuals or teams."

However, the timing and the delivery weren't ideal. In fact, the source wasn't great either. After all, Williams didn't even play Friday due to a nagging hamstring injury. I get where he's coming from, but he'd have been better off waiting to take the field before piling on. 

On top of that, we have to consider that this is a defense that gave up more points than all but three units in football last season. They're rebuilding with a brand-new coordinator (Bill Davis), a brand-new scheme (4-3 under) and new faces across the board (Isaac Sopoaga, Connor Barwin, Bradley Fletcher, Kenny Phillips, Patrick Chung and Williams are all expected to start Week 1).

Such transitions don't happen overnight. I think Williams knows that, but after playing in a tough, elite defense in Baltimore the last four years he doesn't possess a lot of patience. 

Williams wasn't happy with the way the Philly D was pushed around and taunted by the Patriots when the two teams practiced together last week, stating that "it definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore."

"It wouldn't have been a fun practice for the Patriots," he added, per the Inquirer, "I can tell you that."

Again, I get what he's trying to do, but fans fearing that this is a sign of trouble to come need to relax. Honestly, this defense is supposed to be bad right now. They were one of the worst units in football last season, and the preseason was created for growing pains. 

“There was a lot of wide-eyed young guys out there, and you hope when you get to Game 2 now that there is a big gap for us in terms of, it’s not our first time,” head coach Chip Kelly said, per CSN Philly. “It’s not the first time going out on that field in front of a good-sized crowd with officials and it’s live and the whole nine yards. Hopefully, we make a big improvement this week.”

In a perfect world, the Eagles wouldn't have missed 13 tackles Friday night. Ideally, you don't give up a 62-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and let an average running game rush for 246 yards. But it's not even mid-August. We have to give these guys more time before drawing any conclusions. 

In the first week of the preseason last year, the Kansas City Chiefs executed like champions in a 10-point victory over the Arizona Cardinals. They ended up with the worst record and the lowest point total in football. That same week, the Washington Redskins could only muster seven points on offense against the Buffalo Bills. Washington went on to win 10 games while averaging more points per play than everyone else in the NFL.

It's not time to panic, regardless of what Cary Williams will have you believe.