Cary Williams on Sunday said the Ravens' defense he won a Super Bowl with last season had a mindset of "hit people in the mouth" and "throw the first punch." (USA Today Images/AP)
No one fears the Eagles' defense. Not after the way they played against the Patriots in practice. Not after the way they played in their preseason opener against New England at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday. That’s what Cary Williams said.
But that wasn’t all he said.
Following practice at the Linc on Sunday afternoon, Williams talked to the media for the first time since he got into a shoving match with Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson at the NovaCare Complex last week (see story). After the tiff, Williams was removed from the field. Head coach Chip Kelly made it clear that sort of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. On Sunday, Williams suggested that he wasn’t so thrilled with the approach.
“In Baltimore, we had that mindset,” said Williams, who played the last three and a half seasons with the Ravens and helped them win a Super Bowl. “As a defense, our philosophy was to stop the run, be stout up front, hit people in the mouth, be aggressive. Throw the first punch. That’s what we were always taught.
“In that case with the Patriots in practice, I felt the same way. I’m just trying to work my way into the Eagles' way of doing things. When I see something, I can’t get frustrated and take it out on people.”
When Williams was asked about the mentality in Baltimore, he said, “It’s nothing like this. I’ll tell you that. This is a different organization, different team, we’ve got a different coach. Different colors. I can’t expect this place to be the same as Baltimore was.”
Williams said he took umbrage with the Patriots during the scrimmage because “they came in there talking. They had a lot of jokes and kikis and laughs and a lot of dirty plays that were going on.”
Williams, who insisted “there was a reason behind the madness” of what he did, added that “I still have to do things the way coach wants me to do it.” But in the next sentence, Williams said the situation would have been handled another way had it occurred with the Ravens.
“It definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore,” Williams said. “It wouldn’t have been a fun practice, I tell you that. It wouldn’t have been a fun practice for the Patriots.”
After practice on Sunday, Kelly was asked why he removed Williams from last week’s scrimmage following the pushing match.
“If you do that in a game, you get kicked out,” Kelly said. “So we practice how we play."
Kelly was also asked whether -- as Williams said on Sunday -- the Eagles need more of an edge.
"I mean, we could get into a street fight, but that's not going to help us,” Kelly said. “There's a certain way you're supposed to play this game, and it's between the whistles. Stuff after the whistles is not what we're looking and our players knew in that [practice] -- and Bill [Belichick] is the same way -- one of the reasons we wanted to participate against the Patriots is we knew this wasn't going to turn into a WWE brawl. Because that's not what it is. It's a game of football."
Williams has a history of on-field flaps. In the second game last season, he got into a shoving match with DeSean Jackson during the Eagles' one-point win over the Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field. Both players stayed in the game.
During the Super Bowl, Williams pushed a referee during a scrum between the 49ers and Ravens. He was not ejected from the game.
Williams returned to practice on Sunday after missing several days of training camp last week, as well as Friday’s preseason game, because of a nagging hamstring injury. The cornerback said it’s the first hamstring injury he’s had in his career and called it “frustrating.” During the offseason, the Eagles signed Williams to a three-year deal reportedly worth $17 million. The contract included a $5 million signing bonus.
Willliams said he was “kind of quiet” during Friday’s loss to the Patriots because “it’s hard to lead when you’re on the sideline, when you’re in the ice tube." Even so, Williams said the defensive backs “made their mistakes” and the unit would “learn from it” and “get better.”
“We have to establish a tenacity,” Williams said. “A tough-nosed defense. A hard-nosed defense. Something that’s to be feared when it comes out there each and every week. Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple of 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. We have to come together, find a way to get back to those old days when Brian Dawkins was here and strike the fear in individuals or teams.”