McDermott: Eagles to focus on tackling early, lean on Bradley for leadership

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said that he will go back to the basics early in training camp. (Ron Tarver / Staff File Photo)

After a year marred by poor tackling, Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said he is going back to basics in the early days of training camp 2010.

“If you don’t tackle well, and we didn’t tackle well last year, you don’t win football games on defense,” McDermott said Tuesday after the first practice of training camp.

“I think when you’re trying to build the way we’re trying to build it on defense, with the youth that we do have, it’s important that we start day one with fundamentals,” he said. “It’s not a sexy term for you guys to report about – we’re going to work on tackling, we’re going to work on getting off blocks, we’re going to work on catching the football, scooping the football when there’s a ball on the ground. That’s what wins football games.”

McDermott’s defense will have a blend of experience and youth this year, with rookies vying for big roles at defensive end and safety, and possibly linebacker, while veterans hold down other slots. For now, McDermott has mostly rookies to work with, though not the two most expected to contribute this year: Brandon Graham and Nate Allen, neither of whom has signed after being drafted 13th and 37th overall, respectively, in April.

“If you’re not here it’s hard to improve as a football player. It's hard to build and contribute when you’re not here,” McDermott. “We’re not waiting on anyone, we’re moving forward as a defense and if and when they report they’ll have to get caught up.”

McDermott repeatedly referred to the infusion of youth on defense, but said the time for patience has passed.

“I don’t think Aaron Rodgers is going to be patient with our defense at all,” he said. The Eagles face Rodgers’ Packers in week one.

McDermott also made clear how heavily he will be relying on Stewart Bradley, back from an ACL tear, to lead the defense.

“From my standpoint, he’s the guy that’s going to quarterback the defense and he’s going to know the defense as well as I know the defense,” McDermott said. “It will be a significant addition to our defense, having Stewart back.”

He is due to report with other veterans on Thursday.