Trent Cole. Isaac Sopoaga. DeMeco Ryans. What do they share in common?
An intangible item: veteran leadership.
The trio are the frontrunners in the pre-game huddle. They are the experienced sages who spread their ranging NFL wisdom to young folk. However, all three seem to be skating on thin ice. Sopoaga is only slated to be here for a few years. Cole faces an uphill battle, as he attempts to learn a new position in the twilight of his career. Ryans notoriously left Houston because he “didn’t fit in well” with the 3-4 defense, the same defense that is now being implemented here.
This new-look Eagles team needs a new kind of leader. One who ons a cloak of success and victory. One who never cowers away from a battle. One whose physicality is respected in the locker room.
Cary Williams may have revealed himself after his quotes on Sunday. When asked about the interaction with the Patriots last week, Williams lit a fire:
“They came in here talking. They had a lot of jokes and ‘kiks,’ and laughs, and a lot of dirty plays that were going on. There was a reason behind [why I got in a fight], a reason behind the madness, but at the end of the day I still have to do things the way coach wants me to do them, and I understand that, but it definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore. It wouldn’t have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I’ll tell you that.”
Williams was truly stung by the Patriots’ whimsical mocking of the Eagles.
“I think Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple times when I spoke to him. He was talking about ‘Bring that fear back here.’ Right now I don’t know if there’s anybody out there in the league that fears this defense, especially after last week.”
Wiliams’ comments ring true; the Patriots bowled over the Eagle defense Friday night, racking up a whopping 465 yards of offense. The run defense portrayed LeGarrette Blount as Barry Sanders on his 51-yard touchdown. The edge on the Eagles’ defense resembled that of a butter knife. Though he didn’t suit up Friday night, Williams knew what he saw.
Williams was brought in with a lucrative deal to help the secondary – his four interceptions last year would have led the 2012 Eagles. His physical play inspires others, which will become apparent once he steps on the field Thursday. Additionally, he is a reigning Super Bowl champion. Though Williams has faced scrutiny for his famous “life outside of football,” one assumes those are behind him. Beginning Thursday night, the new-look Eagles defense will have a new-look leader.
Photo: CBS Philly