The Dick Vermeil influence is all but gone from the Philadelphia Eagles. The intense pressure the players were under, virtually all the time, isn't there anymore. In short, it's fun, once again, to play for the Eagles.
Marion Campbell, the team's defensive coordinator for six seasons, is the new coach, replacing Vermeil, who retired after last season, saying he had burned himself out. He probably burned out some of his players with him.
Campbell, the Eagles are quick to point out, does things a lot differently from Vermeil.
"If there's a similarity between the two, it's that they are both very demanding, but in different ways," quarterback Ron Jaworski said.
"The biggest difference is that Marion is more game-day-performance-oriented than Dick was. With Vermeil, you had to do it practice, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, as well as in the games. There was a lot of pressure.
"If you dropped a pass in practice you felt like you had let the team down. It was tough for some people to play like that."
Campbell, who was coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 1974 to 1976, said he believes the only way to get the performance he wants is to be demanding.
"It's a performance-oriented game, and you have to demand it to get it," he said. "Dick wanted things done perfectly every time. I might be just a bit more tolerant."
Campbell's approach is already showing results. The Eagles, despite 15 new faces on the roster and some injuries to key players, won three of four preseason games and defeated the 49ers, 22-17, in San Francisco in their opener last Saturday. They will face the Redskins Sunday at Veterans Stadium at 1 p.m.
Jaworski, who suffered a concussion when San Francisco's Fred Dean slammed him to the turf Saturday, will start against Washington.
Running back Wilbert Montgomery, who missed the last preseason game and the San Francisco game because of a sprained knee, is listed as questionable, and Campbell said today that he doubts Montgomery will play.
Jaworski, who was injured in the second quarter against the 49ers, returned to the game, but only to hold on placements. He had completed seven of nine passes for 85 yards. He was relieved by Joe Pisarcik and Pisarcik completed eight of 10 for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Jaworski, the team's starter for six seasons, has often been booed at Veterans Stadium. He said he is expecting to hear more of it and a clamoring for Pisarcik as soon as he throws an incomplete pass Sunday.
"I have to be honest and say there was a time when it bothered me, but I'm accustomed to it now," Jaworski said after today's three-hour workout at JFK Stadium.
"I have so much confidence in my ability that I don't think about it."
Campbell said it baffles him why the Philadelphia fans are often so down on Jaworski.
"He's got the stats, the record and everything to back up that he's a good quarterback," Campbell said.
"Maybe it's just the fans here don't appreciate what he's done and how good he is. He's the quarterback and I have no intention of changing."
Jaworski said that, although Sunday's game against the Redskins is a big one, there is no bitter rivalry between Philadelphia and Washington, as there is between the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
"I feel it's more of a respect-type relationship between us," he said. "We've both been way down before and know what it's like. It's respect, not hate."
With Montgomery sidelined, a key figure is Michael Haddix, the Eagles' No. 1 draft choice from Mississippi State. He was not a popular choice among Eagles fans. He played a wishbone halfback in college and fullback only in postseason all-star games.
"In the back of my mind, when we drafted him, I was thinking that if anything happened to Wilbert, I'd put Michael at halfback and keep on going," Campbell said. Haddix, who is 6 feet 2, weighs 227 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, rushed 76 yards on 24 carries against the 49ers and scored a touchdown. He slightly sprained an ankle in the third quarter, but is fine now.
Campbell has also simplified the offense. "We had to find out how good we were and you can't do that running a lot of complicated stuff. I didn't know how good we were because we hadn't been good for two years. Going into this season we had lost 13 of our last 20 games. "Now I know we can play, so we're adding some things. We're still playing with some babies, but the babies are football players."