Billy Davis sat at the head of one of the cafeteria tables inside the NovaCare Complex Monday, surrounded by a swarm of reporters trying to get a feel for one of Chip Kelly’s most curious hires. Certainly his most important.
Eventually, the subject of Davis’ less-than-sizzling resume as defensive coordinator came up. 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. Those are not the most comforting statistics for fans who have little else to go off of.
“In my past I’ve got good stats and I’ve got bad stats, like most people,” said Davis. “There are a lot of reasons for all of it, I’ve got no excuses for any of them. Everywhere I’ve been I have had good people, I’ve learned lessons from those experiences and I think I have gotten better because of it. It’s something I’m bringing to the Eagles now, I’ve got some experience in calling games and working schemes and game-planning and adjusting. At the end of the day we’re problem solvers. You learn from your experience and you move forward.”
Davis raises a fair point in terms of experience. The three defensive coordinators that followed Jim Johnson had zero history as a play-caller on this level. Davis already has four years as a DC logged. An NFL lifer, he has learned from the likes of Dom Capers, Bill Cowher, Vic Fangio, Marvin Lewis and Dick LeBeau.
In his 21 years coaching in the pros, it sounds like he has built up a solid reputation.
“Guys that I know in this profession that have worked with him speak the world of him, and I hold their word in high regard,” said new outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern. “I’ve got a couple guys that have taught at this level for over 10 years that have said, ‘You’ve got a great one. He’s not good, he’s great.'”
Kelly acknowledged at his Monday press conference that one of the Super Bowl teams blocked his request to speak to one of their assistants about the defensive coordinator job (he would not say who). We may never know just where Davis, who was interviewed on January 27 and wasn’t named to the post until February 7, fit in Kelly’s pecking order. The head coach was obviously impressed with what he heard from Davis, though.
“Really sometimes when you interview people, sometimes it’s like you’re pulling teeth. There is not a great rapport. But there was a great rapport,” said Kelly. “We kept going over different situations, different scenarios and just talking football. It felt like what I want our meeting rooms to feel like, because it wasn’t an interview. It was just a bunch of guys talking football, and some really intelligent questions, and really intelligent answers. I felt like after interviewing him, he was the guy I wanted to work with. And I also knew instead of jumping at the first thing, to make sure we had an opportunity to look around.”
One of the things that surely intrigued Kelly was Davis’ familiarity with both the 3-4 and hybrid schemes. Davis said he has 15 years of 3-4 experience. That seems to be where the Eagles are headed, though they are not ready to commit to it yet for 2013.
“Honestly men, we have to keep grinding as a staff and see what the strengths of these guys are and how they fit in a dynamic, multiple front and coverage system. That’s really what we’ll be running,” said Davis.
“Whatever they do the best we’ll have them do that the most. It’s a flexible scheme, we’ll be evolving as we go and maximizing the players’ talents.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Michael Vick has agreed to restructure his deal and will likely remain in Philly.
Sheil gives his instant reaction to Vick’s new deal.
What does the Vick news mean for Nick Foles?
Vick says his heart is in Philly.
What will DeSean Jackson look like under Kelly?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Mike Florio has some details on Vick’s contract.
Per a source with knowledge of the contract, Vick received a signing bonus of $3.5 million. He also will receive a non-guaranteed of $3.5 million. That’s a base rate of $7 million.
The rest comes from incentives. He can earn up to $500,000 in roster bonuses, with $31,250 for each game in which Vick is on the 53-man roster. He gets another $1.5 million if he participates in 90 percent of the offensive snaps, and $1 million if the Eagles win the Super Bowl (and if he plays in it).
So it’s a one-year, $7 million deal with $3 million in incentives.
Dan Graziano reacts to Kelly’s decision to keep Vick.
Kelly wouldn’t be the first coach to get fooled by Vick’s potential, but he’d do well to learn the lesson of his predecessor. Committing to Vick was one of many decisions that got Andy Reid fired, and if Kelly is dreaming big dreams of Vick as the key to the translation of his high-speed offensive principles to the NFL level, his tenure in Philadelphia could end up being short.
Plenty more on the new staff and the quarterback developments.