New Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams is upset because of the way the Patriots teased and bullied the Eagles' defense during joint practices last week. Williams came from Baltimore as a free agent this offseason, and he insists that such a thing would not have taken place were the Patriots jointly practicing with the Ravens:
"At the end of the day, I've still got to do things the way the coach wants me to do it, and I understand that, but it definitely would have been a different situation in Baltimore. It wouldn't have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I'll tell you that," he said.
"I feel like we've got to establish a toughness, a tenacity, a hard-nosed defense, something that's to be feared when it comes out there each and every week. I think [former Eagle] Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple of times when I spoke to him, he's talking about 'bring that fear back here.' Right now, I don't know if there's anybody out there in the league who fears this defense, especially after last week," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
We talked about this Monday on "NFL Insiders," and I mean, fair enough. But Williams arrived in Baltimore in 2009, nearly a decade after the Ravens' first Super Bowl title and with the culture there firmly established around a dominating defense. The Ravens' defense had some roots down, and had spent a large chunk of time establishing itself as a group with which no one would mess.
To expect the same of the Eagles in August of 2013 is folly. Head coach Chip Kelly has been there for seven months and has never coached in the NFL before. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis has been there for six months, and his assistant-coach resume doesn't exactly read like those of former Ravens defensive coordinators Marvin Lewis and Rex Ryan. Williams himself has been an Eagle for less than five months. He's one of at least four new starters on defense, and many of the holdovers are learning new positions.
Right now, the Eagles' defensive players are consumed with learning the myriad things they have to learn about Kelly and Davis' new defensive concepts. Until they learn them, they can't execute them with consistent confidence. And until they can do that, it's going to be awfully hard to project Ravenesque meanness. The Patriots surely know that and played into it, but that's life. The Eagles were being hazed. Everything is new in Philadelphia, much of it still feels uncomfortable, and as long as other teams know that they will do what they can to take advantage of it.
The Eagles are rebuilding, and while I know that's a dirty word in the NFL, sometimes it's true. This is a team that won four games last year and made a ton of significant changes. Of course they could contend this year. Stranger things have undoubtedly happened. But the likelihood is that the Chip Kelly Eagles will need a lot more time to get from where they were in January -- and even where they are now -- to where Kelly ultimately plans and hopes to take them. Williams is expressing the frustration that comes along with being involved in something that's new and not yet established. Coming from Baltimore, he's not used to that. This probably won't be the last time he or someone else in that locker room is frustrated.