Is the secret to the Eagles' success on defense the system devised by Jim Johnson and now in Sean McDermott's hands or the players brought in to play it?
“The system is the system, yet you always want to fit that system around your personnel," McDermott said after the morning practice. "That personnel changes every year in this league and that’s part of the challenge as coaches. As a coaching staff, you do have to fit your system to the players that are at your disposal.”
So McDermott was asked, now that he is in charge of the system, are there some wrinkles that he has always wanted to institute?
“I don’t necessarily think there’s one particular one that I would say, ‘This is what I’m going to do,’ " he said. "I think over the years you come up with several. Then, quite honestly, there are things you say, ‘If I ever had my chance this is what I’ll do,’ and when you get your chance you kind of stray away from it for certain reasons that are in the best interest of the team. Until you are in that spot, you never really know what it means to be in that spot. It’s like until you do a job you’ve never done the job. But there are things that we’ll add at the right time.”
McDermott stressed overall communication and timing as the two biggest factors when implementing change, but addded that "right now, it's important that fundamental football is played, both at the position and inside the scheme."
He added that it has not been a huge adjustment going from a position coach to coordinator in terms of the many things that he needs to keep track of.
“I think when you get your feet underneath you as an assistant coach, and as I mentioned before you look to take the next step, your focus starts to expand a little bit," he said. "Having worked with multiple positions, already the scope of my focus has broadened. When you’re a position coach it’s your job to focus on your group and you master that group and you’re an expert at the group, but definitely your scope starts to broaden at some point.”
The new defensive coordinator was also asked about specific players during his news conference. Here are some highlights:
On Quintin Demps: “You’re looking for Quintin to take the next step in the overall development process and that means building on what he started with and from in the spring and each day and each play, trying to find a way to get better. He’s gaining an education in the school of football each and every play and each and every day.”
On Ellis Hobbs: “Ellis is a heck of a competitor. You saw him make a couple of great plays out there today for us. First and foremost, he has a tremendous approach, great attitude, [he’s] highly competitive, and that’s what it takes to play on this defense and that’s what it takes to play outside at the corner position.”
On Darren Howard: “It all starts from his attitude. Darren has been a great player for a long time. Any time you come to a team in a first year on the defense, it takes time to absorb the defense and the intricacies of the defense so you can just cut loose. We saw that from him last year, and we’re hoping to see that again this year.”
On Asante Samuel and the impact of his missing practice time: “It’s significant from the standpoint that Asante is at a point in this defense and his development process that he’s got to continue to develop mentally in this scheme. Anytime you miss time that’s hindered a little bit. So it’s important from that standpoint that he’s out here and that he continues to evolve in this scheme. And then, when he evolves in this scheme, he continues to play fast and plays will continue come.”
On Trent Cole and consistency in terms of his sacks: “That’s what happens at times when you’re a heck of a pass rusher. I think if you go back and you study the great pass rushers you’ll see that they happen in bunches, same as turnovers happen in bunches sometimes, that’s the nature of the game once in a while. Now within that, if you had the time to spend and see why, Trent gets tripped quite a bit and what not, but if he’s getting doubled then somebody else has got to be freed up.”
The Eagles announced the signing of free agent defensive tackle Willie Williams, who was cut this week by the St. Louis Rams, when they acquired Hollis Thomas.
Williams, 24, was signed by the Rams last October and spent the remainder of the season on the practice squad. The Eagles are looking for more depth at defensive tackle and potentially more size than Dan Klecko can offer. Williams is 6-4 and 305 pounds.
The Eagles practice at 8:15 a.m. Sunday at Lehigh and then head to the Linc for the Eagles Flight Night fundraiser.
There is a 2:45 p.m. practice Monday and then a return to double session at Lehigh on Tuesday, including an afternoon special teams practice.