Chip Kelly has tabbed Browns linebackers coach Billy Davis to be his defensive coordinator, according to a league source.
Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly was first to report the hire.
Interestingly, the top two assistant spots go to former Browns coaches, as former Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmur is expected to named offensive coordinator.
Davis has been the linebackers coach in Cleveland since 2011. Prior to that he served as the defensive coordinator in Arizona (2009-10) and San Francisco (2005-06). His NFL coaching resume dates back to 1992, starting out as a defensive assistant in Pittsburgh.
The Eagles interviewed Davis back on January 27. The 47-year-old was one of the only names concretely linked to the defensive coordinator post.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham appeared to draw interest. Niners defensive backs coach Ed Donatell and linebackers coach Ted Monachino were mentioned as potential candidates as well. The Eagles stayed quiet on the subject throughout the process, as Kelly wanted to have his staff announced all at once.
Davis served as a ball boy for the Eagles under Dick Vermeil. His father, Bill Davis, worked in the Eagles’ personnel department in the late 80’s.
Davis’ track record as a defensive coordinator is less than striking. His units ranked 32nd and 26th in his two seasons as DC in San Francisco. In Arizona, his defense finished 20th and 29th in yards.
He is well-versed in the 3-4 and 4-3 (he ran a hybrid in Arizona), and does have a history of getting a lot out of his linebackers.
In three seasons as the Falcons’ linebackers coach, Keith Brooking was selected to the Pro Bowl all three years. In the mid 90’s Davis began coached outside linebackers for the Carolina Panthers. In ’96 Kevin Greene and Lamar Lathon finished first and second in the NFL in sacks, with 14.5 and 13.5, respectively.
Also of note is that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made the Pro Bowl under Davis in ’09.
It is unclear how high up Davis was on Kelly’s initial wish list. On Wednesday it was reported that the Niners blocked Donatell from interviewing for the Saints’ defensive coordinator opening; it is conceivable they blocked the Eagles as well. We also know that Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann withdrew his name from consideration several weeks back, though it is uncertain how much interest the Eagles had in him.
In the end, Kelly chose Davis for the most important position in his cabinet. Only time will tell whether or not it was the right choice.