August 24 Philadelphia Daily News
“MUCH WORK TO DO, many decisions to be made before the Eagles open the season Sept. 12 against Green Bay. But the guys playing defense for Sean McDermott feel like they’re building something here, feel like the huge collection of moving parts McDermott began assembling nearly a month ago is starting to take shape.
“We’re really starting to gel,” strong safety Quintin Mikell said yesterday. “Everybody’s starting to feel out where each other’s going to be. I know where Stew [Bradley, the middle linebacker] is going to be, I know where [new weakside linebacker] Ernie Sims is going to be. Me and Akeem [Jordan, the strongside linebacker] have been working well, me and Nate [Allen, the rookie free safety] have been working well.
“I feel like right now, it’s starting to look like a defense. It’s a good feeling.”
Not surprisingly, Bradley agreed.
“I think it’s even evident just from the sideline,” Bradley said. “You can see us flying around, good energy from group install all the way down . . . Being a physical, downhill, fast defense is definitely the strength of our defense. We’re not overly huge.”
That might be the big knock, size up front, and the lack of a proven ability to get pass-rush pressure without blitzing.
“I think being physical is a mentality,” Bradley said. “If you’re fast to contact, and you’re the one delivering the blow, you can set a tone. I don’t think we’re big enough to sit back on our heels and just absorb people coming at us. We’ve got to be the aggressors.”
If McDermott had started training camp with a checklist, it might look something like this by now: 1. Get rookie free safety ready to start right away (check). 2. Straighten out linebacking corps (check, at least as far as starters go). 3. Develop some pass-rushing threats in addition to Trent Cole and Juqua Parker (check, in that Brandon Graham looks strong. Inside guys still iffy).
“I think we’ve got guys that love to play, and that’s a good feeling,” McDermott said yesterday. “Guys that want to work hard, which is another good thing. They’re starting to come together – you’re starting to see the glue, the gelling and the chemistry start to build. When you battle together, that’s what starts to form. That’s what I know right now. Now, the X’s-and-O’s and some more of the scheme things, we’ve got some work to do.
“At this point in camp, I think you look at the overall personality and the complexion of the defense. I like the physical, emotional style that these guys play.”
It was evident during McDermott’s news conference yesterday that he really has faith in some of the ingredients he has assembled. Reporters followed up on Eagles coach Andy Reid’s explanation Sunday that Sims, while not credited with any tackles Friday night in Cincinnati, played very well.”
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