For the Eagles' loudest, proudest player, a 1-2 start to the season is tough to swallow. But Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel is confident the Eagles have the talent and dedication to turn things around, beginning Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
"We're very prideful over here," said Samuel Thursday. "We love to win and we love to compete, so whenever we're getting out-competed, it's definitely a problem as a competitor. We're definitely going to strap down and make a difference."
Samuel added that the defense's goal this week will be to hold the 49ers to around 200 yards of total offense en route to a victory. With Frank Gore hampered by an ankle injury and the 49ers struggling to get big plays from their wide receivers, the biggest threat to the Eagles defense may come from Vernon Davis. Of course, tight ends have, at times, given the Eagles fits over the last few years.
Davis "is definitely a tight end that has receiver speed, so he's definitely a mismatch for most linebackers," Samuel said. "We're definitely going to be looking out for him, he's a big part of the offense. So we'll try to take him away and help ourselves out."
It's only been three games, but for the second straight season, the Eagles find themselves ranked 32nd in the league in red zone defense, having allowed over 85 percent of opponent's trips to the red zone to result in touchdowns. Samuel, one of the few holdovers on defense, doesn't think there's an easy solution beyong better execution.
"It's just bad red-zone defense," he said. "Going back to last year, we just have to figure it out, figure out how to stop the team from getting in the end zone."
Samuel was also asked about the performance of fellow starting cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha through three games. Asomugha, the Eagles' big-ticket free agent signing, was partially responsible for two touchdowns last week against the Giants, but has allowed little else.
"He's doing well," Samuel said. "Everybody has a little oops here and there, but everything wouldn't be as bad if we had won. That's what we're dealing with, we lost, so Nnamdi's doing fine."
For Samuel and the Eagles, the focus is on pulling out a victory this Sunday.
"I think we're in the point of putting everything together," he said. "We're jelling. We still have a couple new faces in and out of the defense. I think we're just trying to jel everybody together and then, at the end of the day, get a win."