Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Importance Of the Billy Davis Hire

The void Jim Johnson left when he passed away back in July of 2009 has not yet been filled.  The Eagles went  through three defensive coordinators in the last four seasons, and they all fell short. It is one of the biggest reasons why Andy Reid is now coaching the Chiefs.

The importance of assistant coaches can be lost to a degree when so much focus is on the head man. Chip Kelly is the story, he is the draw. He is also nothing if his staff can’t pull its weight.

We have seen the sharp contrast between the early Reid years in Philly compared to crashing end, and how vital his support system was to his success. There was Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier, Ron Rivera and Pat Shurmur (who is now Kelly’s offensive coordinator). But most of all there was Johnson.

Reid seemed perfectly comfortable leaving that side of the ball almost totally in Johnson’s hands. No need to meddle — that may only mess things up. That appears to be the way Kelly would like to have things as well.

“Specifically on game day, I don’t believe you can have someone micromanage it. When I was an offensive coordinator, I was fortunate that the two head coaches that I coached for allowed me to work,” said Kelly. “We’ll have discussions during the week about where we’re going with things, but on game day, those guys have to be able to not worry about who is second guessing them and who is over their shoulder. If I do have to second guess them and I do have to look over their shoulder, then I hired the wrong person.”

There is an image from last season that I often think of that might speak to this. Prior to a special teams unit taking the field, I noticed Reid regularly going up to the huddle towards the end of the season to count and make sure there were 11 men present. Maybe I just never noticed it before, but it struck me as symbolic of a coach’s fading trust in the men he chose to surround himself with.

With Johnson he had the field split in half. Sean McDermott, Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles could not offer such luxuries. He was forced to peer into the huddle.

Can Billy Davis provide a similar sense of confidence for Kelly that Reid enjoyed in his early years? Impossible to say for sure. But as Kelly mania gives way to the reality of life in the NFL, we’ll be reminded that the answer needs to be “yes” if Kelly plans on achieving true success.


The Eagles finally have a defensive coordinator. And a pretty noteworthy offensive line coach.

Get to know Davis and his preferred approach.

Sheil puts the entire coaching staff into focus.

In the latest Twitter Mailbag, we look at why Kelly and Nick Foles have yet to have a sit-down.

One national reporter says Kelly likes Foles, but “he’s not as high on Foles as some believe.”


ESPN the Magazine takes a further look at DeSean Jackson and his involvement in the music industry.

One week into the new year, Jackson is in a positive mood at a Burbank studio. After a six-week stretching regimen, he declares his ribs healed. He’s open and loose, draped on a couch, but tenses when asked if his career is out of balance. “Everyone has their opinion,” he says. “I’m acting. I do commercials. I do charity work almost every week. There’s so many things where you could be, Why is he doing this? Why is he doing that? I’m just living my life.”

With that he heads to the control room where the engineer is tweaking a mix, a work in progress in which he touches on a recurring theme: hater management. Jackson’s voice booms through the speakers: “And I ain’t the jealous type / I’m just livin’ my life.”

Donovan McNabb believes that Vick is a fit for Kelly.

“He fits in it very well, if you look at it from afar,” McNabb said on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” on Wednesday. “If you look at just the 2010 season, when they were playing very well, the offensive line was healthy, and they were making explosive plays. Explosive plays from 30, 40, 50 yards, and that’s what Chip Kelly has been doing at Oregon.”


The staff will likely be announced soon. We should have a chance to talk to the assistants in the coming days.

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  • eagle fan dwn south

    I really hope CK meeting with davis gave him a clear picture cse the league is not giving new coaches alot of time anymore

  • ClydeSide

    This fits well with Rick Minter as the linebacker coach. As a DC at Kentucky Minter faced the SEC spread offenses. The spread is being used by more NFL teams everyday. Davis’s NFL background and Minter’s experience with the new offenses and defenses coming to the NFL now makes a good blend.

  • Seabreezes51

    I like a couple of things about Davis. He was on the ground floor implementation of the 3-4 in San Francisco so he knows how to direct the switch and I like that he played to a hybrid defense that offers more looks than a simple 3-4 or 4-3 when he was in AZ.
    Third try is a charm…..

  • Kimbafuzz

    I agree… looking back at it. Jim Johnson’s death was the end of the Andy Reid era. The defense always pretty much took care of itself before that.

  • borntosuffer

    “I noticed Reid regularly going up to the huddle towards the end of the season to count and make sure there were 11 men present.” What is it about the number “11” that’s so hard for some football players/coaches. Is it because It’s odd or It’s prime or you only have 10 fingers and during the game your shoes are on? Strange. But, when the head coach is doing the counting, you know something bad is going on.

    • I think it is mainly because of the strong Canadian presence on the team, with Phillip Hunt and Danny Watkins. Us Canadians play with 12 men on the field.

      That’s my theory. It’s probably wrong.

  • knighn

    Donovan McNabb believed that it was always someone else’s fault. It wasn’t. It was often his.
    McNabb said that the Eagles shouldn’t hire Kelly. The Eagles did.
    Now McNabb believes that Vick will be a fit for Kelly’s offense. That is pretty much a guarantee that:
    – Vick won’t play well in Kelly’s offense.
    – Vick won’t play at all in Kelly’s offense.
    Thanks, Donovan!

    • morgan c

      Best QB we’ve ever had… I’ll just never get the vitriolic McNabb hate… positives outweighed negatives significantly and that’s just a fact.
      Here’s betting we won’t ever have another QB to take us to 5 NFC Champ Games.

      • FMWarner

        Agreed 100%

  • Hmmm let’s see can this guy handle the D by himself. Is he inheriting the same level of player that Johnson did from the Ray Rhodes era?? I’d say not even frigging close. Hmm let’s see…Is a real personnel man like Tom Modrak or Ryan Grigson picking the next set of players who will make or break the defense or is it an unproven lawyer wet behind the ears and excused of all responsibility of the disastrous 1010 and 2011 off seasons??? Could you guys like shut this blog down for a few weeks, go study someone like say Phil Sheriden and then open back up with that type of perspective? You know tell it like it really is?

    • B-West

      First, this blog is pretty damn good. Second, why would you want the exact same perspective from everything you read?

    • theycallmerob

      you do know that your participation is not mandatory.

    • FMWarner

      So tell it like it really is = agree with you. Got it.

    • D3Keith

      LOL @ “a real personnel man like Tom Modrak or Ryan Grigson.”

      Like you ever heard of Grigson before last year.

  • Hurricane Dave

    One point being missed is that maybe coach a defense to support Kelly and his turbo spread offense isn’t such an attractive option for a DC prospect.

    • Hurricane Dave


  • this guy brings experience with implementing a new direction. his record may not be much, but he is as it appears the entire staff well qualified and seasoned professionals at the NFL and College Level. Almost every position coach has been a coordinator at one place or another with quality programs and in stellar conferences.

    This has turned into a wait and see rather quickly.

  • planetx1971

    This Davis hire has left me feeling really puzzled at BEST. I was so amped and full of confidence. And hope that Chip would impress me with his D.C. hiring and instead I was left feeling numb & dumbfounded. I’m PRAYING that I eat crow over this but I have a gut wrenching feeling over this. I feel like the boy coming downstairs on Christmas morning expecting a Red Rider BB gun and all there was waiting for me was the pink bunny pajamas from my crazy aunt. DEPRESSING :(