The Philadelphia Eagles‘ first day of training camp took place on Monday. 30 players showed up, and the necessary preliminary actions were carried out. Players were weighed, tested, prodded, interviewed and contracts were signed.
It was all for preparation for today — the first day the Eagles play with pads.
Practices change when the battle gear is donned, according to defensive end David King. He told reporters that players naturally desire more contact when they are implemented. This is the true beginning of the winnowing process. 90 players will come into the organization and only 53 will stay to wear the midnight green.
Although the offense has mostly been emphasized in the preseason, the team wearing pads is getting reporters and fans to think of contact. This was lacking last year, but this defense has to be nasty in order for the new offense to work. Look at Chip Kelly‘s college record. In his four years coaching, he ran the ball almost twice as much as he did throwing it. Arguably then, it never really mattered if Kelly had a quarterback with a strong arm. However, this type of offense will only work if the defense is a terror to its opponents.
That is going to start with new defensive coordinator Bill Davis. He has a huge responsibility to whip the Eagles into fighting shape. A product of Bill Cowher, Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau, he is still a relative unknown, having two failed tenures with the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. Still, it did not faze him when he showed up in the Delaware Valley, spoke very bluntly to reporters, even throwing them an obscenity, and immediately went to work organizing his strategies.
But tough words only go so far. The Eagles used to be known for their defense. The shadow of the legendary Jim Johnson looms over that team and the new defensive coordinator. The offense is a fresh-faced new kid, inexperienced and is going to get roughed up in the learning process. It will take a tough traditional defense, a force that will make Brian Dawkins want to return and do a wolverine-dive, to help the offense win games. It is time to make opponents approach with trembling fear again. It is time they prepare for battle.