Cary Williams is tired and says he isn't the only one. The Eagles cornerback isn't tired from the games. He's tired from the daily grind of practice and the pace coach Chip Kelly demands when the team is preparing.
Williams made his assertion that the coaching staff didn't look out for the well-being of the players on an afternoon when the Eagles pulled out another crazy win to improve to 3-0, and an afternoon in which the highlight play of the day for Washington came as former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson beat Williams on a deep post route for an 81-yard touchdown.
"A lot of guys had no legs. A lot of guys are in a dogfight before the game even started," Williams said. "We've got to start taking care of our guys throughout the week in order for us to be more productive and have more energy on Sunday."
While it has been an article of faith that superior conditioning is the reason the Eagles have outscored opponents, 74-24, in the second halves of their three wins, Williams spun that around and said fatigue and overwork during practice are just as much the reason for the 54-24 deficit in the opening halves of those games.
"When you don't have legs, period, it shows up in a game, period, throughout the game, period," he said. "I think it negatively impacted a lot of people, and I'm not the only person. I'm just the one [who is] man enough to stand up here and talk to you all as a man and address the issue. Obviously, in my opinion, it's an issue in our starts [to the game]. Something has to change in order for us to be more productive."
Kelly's methods are probably not going to change, so Williams is either going to have to adapt or get out of the way. Jackson, his assignment for much of Sunday, is a pretty good example of that.
There is certainly some frustration in the mix with Williams. He is a proud player and has been victimized several times by opposing receivers this season. According to him, he has been dealing with a hamstring issue for much of his time with the Eagles and can't seem to get it healed as he either goes through the rigorous practices or sits out part of them and loses some conditioning in his legs. He was listed as having only limited participation in practice on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
"Obviously, the coaches have their philosophies, and it is what it is, man. I'm Employee 26," Williams said. "I know what gets me ready, and like I said, I'm not the only one. I'm just man enough to let you know . . . that we're not a fresh team. We're not the freshest team out there. And hopefully, preferably, things will change.
"We do a lot of reps, man . . . and it's exhausting. It's taxing on your body, especially when you're 30 years old now, and you expect to be playing at a high level," Williams said. "So, it's difficult. You've got to find that energy. I don't know where we're going to find it. We've been able to muscle through, fight through that as a team, but there's some modifications that need to be done and made."
Williams, who won't actually turn 30 until Dec. 23, was signed as a free agent before last season and helped steady the cornerback position. The Eagles still finished last in passing yards allowed in 2013, and the defensive backfield was viewed as a component of the team that needed an upgrade. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, who got his second interception of the season on Sunday, was brought in as a starter, otherwise the defensive backfield is the same, except a year older.
Against the Redskins and hot quarterback Kirk Cousins, the pass defense wasn't very good, allowing Washington to ring up 427 receiving yards. It wasn't all the fault of the backfield. Cousins was neither sacked nor hit during the game, and 10 of his receptions went to either running backs or tight ends who were mainly the responsibility of the linebackers. But just six days after the pass defense looked good against Indianapolis, it sputtered against the Redskins.
"You win, and you fix things," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "You keep evolving, and you keep grinding."
For Cary Williams, he's only sure about the grind, and he meant every word he said. Give him this much. He didn't wait for the team to lose to criticize what he thinks is wrong.
"It's awesome that we're 3-0. It's great. It's tremendous. It just shows the resilience, the fight in this team, shows everybody's heart," Williams said. "We've got to find a way to get energy in the first part of the game. Obviously, we started a little flat. We can't continue to have that as the way we start games.
"If we've got to find energy from outside sources or whatever it may be to start games quick, we've got to do it. But right now the way we're doing it is not conducive to success."
Outside sources? Like the ones that get you suspended four games for a first offense? It wasn't really possible to tell what Williams meant by that one. It was only possible to tell that Williams is tired and hurting, and it seems like a long way and a lot of reps until next Sunday against San Francisco.
"I just want to be healthy during the week, and I want to be healthy when I play on Sunday," Williams said.
Feel free to change the "when" to an "if." It has happened before to players who weren't totally happy with the program. Just ask DeSean Jackson.