"I've been married for 32 years and I think trust is the most important thing in a marriage," Azzinaro said Monday at the NovaCare Complex. "Trust is the most important thing in a working relationship. I think it's the most important thing in a team."
The 55-year-old spent four seasons with head coach Chip Kelly at Oregon and coached against Kelly when both were at New England colleges.
Kelly described Azzinaro as a bright and "extremely thought-out person.
"He's a lot smarter then he lets people on to," Kelly said.
Azzinaro was one of five Ducks coaches Kelly brought to the Eagles, but the only one of the group who was full-time.
Azzinaro inherits an Eagles defensive line that floundered last season under assistant coach Jim Washburn. The starting front four combined for just 18 sacks, down 51 percent from 2010. Washburn was fired with four games remaining and his wide-nine scheme was scrapped.
Ends Brandon Graham and Jason Babin and rookie tackle Fletcher Cox led the Eagles with 51/2 sacks each.
At Oregon, Azzinaro's line operated in a hybrid 3-4. The defense twice led the Pac-12 in sacks. He utilized his players' athleticism, and zone blitzes created confusion for the offense.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis on Monday would not commit to either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Kelly also stayed away from labeling the unit.
"We've coached them every single way. We don't get caught up in that type of stuff," Azzinaro said. "We're looking for performers."
Azzinaro said he has been able to evaluate the Eagles linemen only through watching video, which he does not consider sufficient.
"Sometimes the film is the truth and sometimes the film lies," Azzinaro said. "It's only one piece of the puzzle. I like to get to know the guys and try to figure out what's inside."
Azzinaro wants to know how his players talk, their plans in life, and how they think. That, he said, will only deepen the trust between player and coach.
Players want to to know that you care about them, he said.
When the team holds its organized team activities in two months, Azzinaro said, he will not simply tell his players to trust him. His track record at Oregon will not earn him respect here, Azzinaro said. He's out to earn it.
"What I'm going to say is, 'Hey, let's respect each other and grow this thing,' " Azzinaro said. "If trust is given away, I don't think it's the kind of trust you want."
As for the relish, Azzinaro didn't like it. The label on the back of the bottle confirmed his suspicion: 25 grams of sodium.
Kelly can only hope that Azzinaro's football instincts are just as keen.
Lack of the Sack
At Oregon, Jerry Azzinaro's defensive line operated in a hybrid 3-4, and the defense twice led the Pac-12 in sacks.
The Eagles defensive linemen he inherits did not distinguish themselves as sackers last season in a 4-3 alignment. Here is a look:
Brandon Graham, 51/2
Fletcher Cox, 51/2
Jason Babin, 51/2
Cullen Jenkins, 4
Trent Cole, 3
Mike Patterson, 1
Phillip Hunt, 1
Cedric Thornton, 1
Darryl Tapp, 1/2
Contact Matt Breen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @matt_breen.