The Eagles had already scheduled their coordinators to talk to reporters Monday, before Cary Williams did such a wonderful job of setting the agenda for defensive czar Bill Davis, in the wake of a 31-22 preseason loss to New England.
Davis had his work cut out for him in the media tent, but he made a credible, impassioned plea to give his group some time before making any lasting judgments.
"All our players have to have a mindset that if they master their position, and they are great -- that if you're a corner, you're a lockdown corner, if you're a 'backer, you're a tackling machine, or a pass rusher, you're at the quarterback all the time. Everyone needs to have the mindset to be great at their spot for our defense to be feared," Davis said, the day after cornerback Williams said no one fears the Eagles' defense, that it lacks toughness and swagger.
Asked specifically about Williams' criticisms, Davis said: "If you're making the plays, you're tough and you're feared and you're aggressive. When you're not making your plays, it's not coming off that way. All of them have to have the mindset of being feared and nasty and tough and gritty in what they do."
Davis was asked if his players have that mindset.
"We're working toward that. I'm going to say no, we don't collectively have the mindset that needs to be where it is. It's a daily -- you don't just talk about it and say the words and then all of a sudden everybody has the attitude. The way you get that confidence as a defense and in the techniques is by having success during the games. And you can tell we did not have that success in that (New England) game. So we have got to work and tighten it down, and get better at the individual techniques, one position at a time, to where we collectively have the success to give you the confidence to have that attitude we're going for.
"Nobody wants us to be a more feared defense than the guys in our locker room. Nobody wants that swagger more than the guys do. But it's not words that gets you there."
Speaking of words, Williams said Monday he felt his were misunderstood, to the extent that he came in Monday morning and tried to explain himself to general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly.
"My intentions were never to bring grief between me and my teammates and me and this coaching staff," Williams said. "I wasn't trying to be a jerk about the situation or tell anybody about what needs to happen. I just feel like we're trying to bring that (tough) culture, and I think we're well underway. I think to a degree it was misunderstood."
Williams said he never meant to imply his teammates were soft.