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Philadelphia Eagles News

FS Brian Dawkins

On the secondary operating as a group: "We're operating at a very high level, I think. I've said this before and I think everybody knows, we know our role, we know what is expected of each individual and everybody is comfortable in those roles; comfortable in the fact that we know where the next guy is going to be. There's no guess-work at all. That makes for a very fast moving and big-play-potential secondary."

On whether that teamwork is unusual: "I wouldn't say unusual, but it usually takes some years together to be able to get that done within a year, which is a good thing, obviously, for this team."

On whether this is the best defense he's played on: "It's hard for me to think back to some of the other defenses. I will say that this is probably, if not the best, the top two; but I'm leaning towards the best that I've played on. The speed in which the guys play, this is the best run-stopping defense that I've played on since I've been here, by far. That allows the whole other part of the defense to flow, when we stop the run. We're stopping it and get after the passer on third-and-long with the speed that we present by bringing (DEs) Chris (Clemons) and D-How (Darren Howard) onto the field. This is definitely a defense that can cause a havoc."

On when the defense went from being a good defense to something special:"Whichever game we stopped making the most mistakes in, it was that game. I can't remember exactly which game it was. Earlier, we were making a lot of mistakes. We were assisting teams and giving them opportunities to make plays against us. We stopped doing that. We're not making as many mistakes. Now, we still make mistakes. I don't think I've ever played a perfect game and we're never going to play a perfect game as a defense. That doesn't mean you don't try to have a perfect game. The percentage of mistakes are low and that's a good thing for this defense because that means that we're not giving you a lot of clear areas to get into. The likelihood of you continuing a drive up and down the field on a consistent basis against this defense without making a mistake, an opposing offense, is not high."

On what is different about this run defense: "I don't want to leave out anybody, but I'll just give you (DTs) Bunk (Brodrick Bunkley) and Mike P. (Patterson). Those guys are playing tremendous ball inside; they really are. The penetration that they get, being able to defeat one-on-one blocks on a consistent basis, the penetration that they get in the middle, it affords the linebackers to flow a lot faster and then we come down and assist them, as far as safeties. The linebackers are doing an excellent job, but it starts with those two guys in the middle. I know we do a rotation in there, but those two individuals are key for this defense; they really are. They're very much unsung."

On the defensive line rotation: "That's very key for those guys. They bang together every play. We don't bang every play in the secondary, obviously. Linebackers, they bang a little bit more, but d-linemen, they bang every play. We have a rotation in there to be able to get them off the field on third-and-long to put those other guys on the field and give them another opportunity to rest so that they can be ready to go for the next series. It's very, very important for us to be able to get those guys rest."

On how the young linebackers have adjusted to the defense: "It's been a growth process for them, learning the position and learning their roles and what is expected of them. I said this a while back that now they know where they're supposed to be, so there's no guesswork in it. Now they can move around and feel comfortable owning their position. It's not a position they're playing, they actually own that position. It's a big difference in that. They're very comfortable. Sometimes they're able to defeat blocks with ease with their speed a lot of times, not allowing guys to be able to get good angles on them because of their speed. They're very athletic playmakers in the middle right there, so that once-upon-a-time thing that might have been looked upon as a weakness is no longer a weakness for this team. It's a strength of this team, that linebacker core is."

On LB Stewart Bradley's play and when it started clicking for him:"I don't know, I can't tell a game, they kind of run together on me, but there was a point in the season that you can see that he really began to take off with that position. He really began to own and play with a different aggression and different temperament at that position. I can't tell you exactly what game that was, but you can definitely tell that there was a point in this season that he owned that position, he owned that aggressiveness, and he owned that mentality. There was a point in this season that you looked at him and, when he called attention to the huddle, you said, 'You know what? Let me be quiet and listen to Stew because he has something to say.' That's a big thing to finally get that type of respect."

On whether Eagles-Giants has turned into the biggest rivalry for him:"It was never a 'turn into' thing, it's always been that way for me. I've always respected this team; we'll always respect this team. The players on it, the coaching staff, I've always had respect for them. I'm not cushy with them, but I've always respected this team. It's always been a physical battle with this team. Every once in a game it's been a blowout, but, for the most part, it's usually some grind-out, close, defensive battle with this team. Since I've been here, this has been, to me, my biggest rivalry game."

On what he remembers about the playoff game against the Giants in 2000:"What do I remember? Not much."

On scoring defensive touchdowns:"That's been something (defensive coordinator) Jim (Johnson), he's harped on since day-one in mini-camps, that he wants this unit to be a unit that not only turns the ball over, not only gets pressure on quarterbacks, but actually scores on defense. We've practiced it in practice when we intercept the ball to return it. You saw a good example of that in Chris (Clemons), as far as getting a block this past week. We practiced those things. Obviously, we don't practice finishing off a block, but being in position to make the blocks for your teammate. It's very important for us to be able to score. When you're in the playoffs, you're usually going to play against, every week, some pretty dog-gone good defense. As much as you can help your offense and put them in good field position or score the ball, it only makes their job a lot easier; I'm talking about our offense, that is."

On whether he feels like he's in the zone right now:"Yes, I do feel like I'm in the zone. The game has slowed down even more so that it usually is. I'm being able to recognize things a lot faster. For whatever reason, I don't know. I really feel good at this time of the year."

On how he feels about the way the safety position has become a playmaking position:"I definitely feel good about it, knowing that there is no longer a safety that is looked upon as a deep-middle guy who doesn't have an effect on the play. I think you're seeing guys at the safety position who actually want to play the position, instead of just being put there because they so-called 'can't cover' or 'can't catch' to play receiver. They want to play the safety position, because they see it as a position where they can actually cause havoc back there—roam a little bit, come up and blitz every once in a while, and come up and stuff the run if they have the heart to do it. I have a lot of fun playing the position, obviously."

On Ravens S Ed Reed and Steelers S Troy Polamalu:"I have big time respect for both of them. Both of them bring two different things to the table. Obviously both of them are ball hawks. They bring two different aspects to the game. Troy is an all-over-the-field type of guy. Full-speed to the ball, hit anything that moves, and can pick the ball at the same time. Ed, if he gets the ball in his hands, it's pretty much a touchdown. He is a very unique individual."

On the chemistry of the defense:"That's just the role part of the thing that I was talking about earlier. Everyone knows their role. I don't know how long it took. I don't know if individual guys will tell you how long it took, but I just know now that we all understand our roles. We all understand what is expected of us, we all understand why we are at this point of the season, playing this type of ball. It's because every guy is knowing his responsibilities, not stepping outside of his responsibilities and holding fast to his responsibilities. We all can trust that everyone is going to be where they to be. That's a great thing to have, especially when you have as much talent on the defensive side of the ball as we have."

On the opportunity of playing against the defending Super Bowl champions: "It's really not about any of that. It's about what we feel as a team and concentrating on what we have to do. I don't need anything else added to the fact that this is the New York Giants. We have played them enough and I've played them enough in my career to know what type of game this usually is. So, I don't need anything else to be added to it for me to be up and hyped for this game. I'm going to be that. I'm going to be probably up even more than that. It's about us handling what we need to handle, concentrating on what we need to concentrate on as a football team, and not worrying about anything else."

On what he appreciates most about Andy Reid as a head coach:"He is consistent. He is very consistent in his messages, telling us what we need to hear and what he feels like are the most important things to hear. He doesn't beat us over the head with a whole bunch of meetings all the time, and he's looking out for our legs when we need it. He is very open to suggestions from the players, but he is going to stick fast to what he believes in. He's not going to be up and down emotionally; he is going to be even-keel. When you see your head coach, especially for the young guys, not being all over the place emotionally, that usually keeps young guys understanding that maybe they need to calm down a little bit more. He has been that way since he's been here, also. This is not just through this run on through the down times. From day one, he has been the same way."

On how dangerous the Eagles are and how tough of an out they are:"Out is not in our vocabulary right now. We have to depend on what we need to depend on, and that's one another. We're playing for one another and giving everything we have for one another. We are worrying about what we need to worry about, and the only thing we need to worry about is us. We're making sure that we go into this game not making mental mistakes and giving ourselves the best opportunity to win the game. It's going to be a tough one. I love playing against this team. It's always a physical battle. Out is not in our vocabulary right now."

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