Recently, newly acquired cornerback Cary Williams made some remarks to local media that, rather than being applauded, are underappreciated by many, misconstrued by most.
“I feel like we’ve 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,” said Williams according to a report on Philly.com.
Some took Williams comments and went on to claim he was saying his teammates are “soft”. While the way he went about expressing his concerns may be a little more unorthodox than we’re used to over recent years, Williams putting the his belief out there for everyone to see is precisely what this defense has needed, and lacked.
If you were asked right now the last time you remember the Eagles defense being something to fear, what would your answer be? Would it be in 2010 when Jim Washburn instilled the 4-3 wide-nine technique and the defense was able to rack the sacks up? Sure, getting to the quarterback that often would surely produce turnovers, but it turned out those were far and few between.
That defense was okay, not good, and definitely not great by any stretch of the imagination.
To find what I would give as my answer you have to look back to January 11, 2008 — the Divisional Playoff game against the New York Giants. That is the last game that I remember walking away from saying “wow, that was a mean defense”. But it isn’t just because the Eagles defense held the reigning Super Bowl champ to just 11 points, they flat out buried the Giants offense and did not allow a single touchdown.
Five attempts in Eagles territory resulting in five field goal tries, three made, two missed. The Giants remaining two points came the only way possible in football, via a safety. Asante Samuel notched an interception but it was safety Quintin Mikell’s INT in the final minutes that sealed the Eagles win.
That ladies and gentlemen was a defense. The so called talent who would be named their replacements were nothing more than a mere shell. Five years later and the Eagles still can’t find half the player Brian Dawkins was, and maybe never will.
But at least Cary Williams has the right idea. He doesn’t want to be a part of a defense that has become flat, soft, and one with no heart. I’m willing to bet that every Eagles fan has said one of those terms to describe the defense over recent years, and if you say you haven’t, who are you trying to fool?
In fact, Dawkins himself approached Williams about this very topic, bringing a certain toughness back to Philadelphia.
“Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple of times when I spoke to him. He was talking about bringing that fear back here. Right now, I don’t know if there’s anybody out there that fears this defense, especially after last week.”
The fact of the matter is that Williams is coming from the complete opposite of what he has accepted with the Eagles. He was surrounded by great defensive talents like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. He was brought in, not only because he’s in a bounce back kind of year, but because he has a recent ring. And it is that winning mentality that new head coach Chip Kelly is trying to instill in his players.
Now, since Williams made himself available to make such a comment he needs to back them up on the field. That is what will define him as either a leader or another player who can talk a big game, but can’t produce his own evidence.
But until he fails to live up to his own expectations, we the fans should be embracing a player that doesn’t want to suck!