By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What a difference a year makes.
Last year, there was more teaching than coaching with the Eagles at their organized team activities. The players were learning a new system on the fly along with a whole new training regiment. One year later, the veterans are quite comfortable with the X’s and O’s on both sides of the football and Cornerback Cary Williams says the difference is noticeable on the field.
“We have guys that have been in the system for a year now,” said Williams. “We’ve got it under their belt. We understand what’s expected of us and what we’re supposed to do.”
The Eagles struggled on defense early last season but slowly improved under the system of Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans says the defense is already well ahead of last year’s off-season pace.
“It’s another year of understanding each other,” Ryans said. “It’s understanding what Billy is trying to do. Defensively, I think the relationship has grown a lot. I kind of know what he’s thinking and what he’s going to call in certain situations. Overall, the whole defense has just grown because we’re more comfortable with what we’re doing.”
The story is the same on offense, where Chip Kelly’s fast-paced attack remains popular with the players. Running Back LeSean McCoy says he understands there will be some changes, but the pace of the offense remains the same.
“We look the same,” said McCoy. “Sure, there are different faces but we have the same type of pace. It’s the same type of setup, so I like it.”
While the veterans are having an easier time this off-season, the rookies are still going through a learning process. Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews says the experienced players have created the type of culture which benefits the newcomers.
“This is a great locker room,” Matthews said. “It’s a championship locker room. Everybody comes in here, and they’re focused. I’m watching the veterans and just trying to take some things and apply them to my game.”