Barwin: Eagles' D has 'come a long way'

The Philadelphia Eagles' defense improved in virtually every area by the end of last season.

When the 2013 preseason was in its infancy, the Eagles' defense looked far different in joint practices with the New England Patriots.

Philadelphia and New England are also holding joint practices Tuesday through Thursday in anticipation of Friday's second preseason game at Gillette Stadium.

"You have to start somewhere and that's where we started," safety Nate Allen told Philadelphiaeagles.com. "It definitely wasn't pretty against New England, but we kind of knew it would be tough. We were just starting out and the Patriots had an established offense with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. We learned a lot that week."

Linebacker Connor Barwin echoed similar thoughts.

"We've come a long way since then," Barwin told Philadelphiaeagles.com. "We were just getting to know each other and have a sense of the scheme then. We were picked apart pretty much the entire week and in the game."

After an inconsistent first half of the season in which the defense struggled at times, things started to come together in the second half.

The Eagles had an impressive stretch of nine straight games of allowing 21 or fewer points.

In the end, it was good enough for 10 victories and an NFC East title.

"I thought we were a lot farther along than we were last year," defensive coordinator Bill Davis told reporters, referring to this year's preseason opener at Chicago. "I thought the run defense and the tackling are two areas that we took big steps. If you compare preseason game one this year to preseason game one last year, we still missed too many tackles. One of the encouraging things was we missed with the right leverage. We had head placement and we still missed. That's got to get fixed. But the fundamental part of it we weren't missing because of arm tackles and heads in the wrong position. The thought of being in the right position was much better."