Former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Carry Williams has caught a lot of flack since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason and, for the most part, rightfully so–he missed a nearly all of optional team activities because he was busy getting married, building a house, picking out sconces, getting dental work done, and going to his daughter’s dance recitals; and since preseason practices began he’s missed time due to a hamstring injury. So maybe he’s the last guy that you want to hear sound off on the culture of the Eagles defense–he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they’re simply not tough enough, and called them a doormat–but the man has a point.
In the four years since their run to the NFC title game in 2008, the Eagles defense has been somewhere between mediocre (during ’09 and ’10) and just plain awful (’11 and ’12), and if the first preseason game is a sign of things to come things aren’t going to be any better no matter what fat man is standing on the sideline with the play-calling chart.
“They came in there talking. They had a lot of jokes, and [he-hes] and laughs, a lot of dirty plays that were going on. So there was a reason behind what I did,” Williams said of his fight with New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson during last week’s combined practice, which resulted in his being benched for the remainder of the day. Chip Kelly and Bill Belichick agreed, prior to the teams practicing, that they would sideline any players for extracurricular activity after the whistle. “At the end of the day, I still got to do things the way coach wants me to do it, and I understand that. But it definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore. It wouldn’t have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I can tell you that.”
Williams went on to say that he wants to (re)establish a toughness with the defense.
“I feel like we need a nasty, no question,” he said. “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.”
OK, he may be an asshole, but tell me he’s not right?
Since the days of Jim Johnson, and since names like Dawkins, Sheppard, Vincent, and Trotter (the first time around) fell from the roster teams haven’t feared this defense. They’ve feasted on it. The Eagles were in the bottom three in the NFL in points per game last year, gave up the most passing TDs, allowed the second-highest QB rating against, caused close to the fewest turnovers, and were one of the most penalized teams. It’s been absolutely pathetic to watch.
Somebody, anybody has to step up for this team and be that one leader that guys can turn to. We were spoiled with having just that for so many years, and while it’s not easy to replace a guy like Brian Dawkins, not one person has even tried. The result has been the defense running around like a bunch of headless chickens who don’t know how to make an actual football tackle.
Williams may not be that guy, and he definitely didn’t handle things the right way by getting himself into a fight, but he’s coming to Philly from a team that had that nasty factor, that had their heart-and-soul leader, and he knows what kind of difference that can make. So instead of brushing this off as some asshole causing a scene, it might be a good idea to listen to what that asshole is saying. It’d be nice to see devastating (but legal) hits again, and wide receivers afraid to catch the ball because they know what’s coming. At the very least it’s be great to get to listen to gameday speeches like this again: