Cornerback Cary Williams arrived in Philadelphia this offseason, signing a three-year, $17 million deal after winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens. He was brought in to add some much-needed toughness to a unit that was mediocre against the run (17th overall in 2012, according to Football Outsiders) and nonexistent against the pass (dead last in the league).
Through the first few weeks of training camp, not much appears to have changed. The Patriots and Eagles held joint practices in the days leading up to last Friday's preseason opener, a development that may have had something to do with Tom Brady carving up Philly's secondary. Whatever the reason, Williams won't stand idly by as the defense gets steamrolled. During a scrimmage last week, he started a fight with Pats rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Williams was promptly ejected.
The reason for the scuffle? To send the message that the Eagles won't be pushovers. Apparently, the Patriots came into the NovaCare Complex flapping their gums, something that never would have happened when Williams was with the Ravens.
"No question," Williams said via PhillyMag.com. "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, there was a reason behind the madness.
"At the end of the day, I've 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. ...
“I feel like we need the nasty, no question," Williams continued. "I feel like we need to establish a tenacity, a hard-nosed defense, something that is to be feared when it comes out there each and every week. I think Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple 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 this league 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 and strike the fear in individuals, and teams.
First-year coach Chip Kelly offered a different perspective on Williams' football version of vigilante justice.
"If you do that in a game, you're kicked out, so we practice like we play," Kelly said, via Phillymag.com. "We could go get in a street fight, but that's not going to help us. There's a certain way you're supposed to play this game and it's between the whistles. ... Our players knew in that game, and Bill (Belichick) is the same way, one of the reasons we wanted to participate against the Patriots is we knew this isn't gonna turn into a WWE brawl 'cause that's not what it is. It's the game of football."
The easiest way to solve this is for Eagles defenders to, you know, start tackling people. And after seeing what transpired at the Linc against the Pats, Kelly's going back to basics.
So @SheilKapadia tells me the series of basic tackling drills Chip Kelly pulled out today were run once before - 3 weeks ago.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 12, 2013