It'll take time.
They're working hard.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel stuck to those main points early on in his media session after Friday morning's practice. He's encouraged by the 'want to' and eagerness to learn, but he went nowhere near any bold proclamations for 2014.
"They're working hard to try to understand it and grasp it and I think that they're making progress doing that," Crennel said. "They've got great attitudes and they've been working really hard, so if we can keep that up, I think that we'll make enough progress to be competitive."
Crennel, who earned a pair of Super Bowl rings as an assitant with the New York Giants, as well as
three more with the Patriots, is installing a 3-4 new defense. At his disposal is the game's greatest defensive player in J.J. Watt, as well as the 2014 Draft's first overall pick in outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. Through the first week of work, Crennel made it clear that he "cannot help but see J.J" when number 99 is on the field. He was optimistic about Clowney as well, but with a bit of cautioun.
"He's beginning to be in on more plays and do more things and I think that as soon as we can get him out there more, he will improve more," Crennel said. His side's signal caller is Brian Cushing, but the inside linebacker has been on the side field working with the team's training staff. Cushing said in early July he'd be ready when it was "go time", and in his absence, Crennel has utilized second year linebacker Justin Tuggle and undrafted rookie Max Bullough.
"I think Tuggle has done a good job," Crennel said. "Bullough has done a good job as Mike linebackers and the guys who are calling the signals are in there."
Tuggle was a bright spot last season on special teams, and head coach Bill O'Brien has noticed how well he's picked up the new system.
"He's an instinctive guy," O'Brien said. "He's a good team guy. He works extremely hard."