With personnel uncertainties abound and a massive overhaul underway, it’s questionable whether this defense can hold its own in a 16-round bout in 2013. But based on the histories of Chip Kelly and Billy Davis, if the ‘D’ goes down it will go down swinging.
“In terms of what we want to be, we’re going to be an attacking style defense. It’s going to be a group of people who dictates the tempo of the game,” said Kelly.
“I think it’s hopefully going to be a defense that creates a lot of turnovers and gets the ball back to our offense so we can be productive on our offensive side of the ball.”
That’s exactly what Kelly’s defense did for him at Oregon. The Ducks led the entire nation with 131 takeaways from 2009-2012. Forty of those came in ’12 alone.
Davis’ defenses have been known to create turnovers as well. With Davis serving as the defensive coordinator, the Cardinals came up with 21 interceptions in 2009, which was the highest mark for the franchise in since ’94. The following season, Arizona recorded 12 return touchdowns (7 fumble returns, 3 interception returns, 2 kickoff returns), the second-highest single-season total in NFL history. The seven fumble returns for scores established a new league record.
Those defenses only ranked 20th and 29th overall, respectively, but they did get their hands on the ball. His units in San Francisco also finished in the top-half of the league in takeaways despite being in the basement when it came to total yards.
“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.”
Kelly said that Davis’ experience running both a 4-3 and 3-4 made him an appealing candidate. Kelly is big on versatility; he likes his defense to be malleable and able to deploy multiple fronts. Davis’ background and general philosophy falls in line with that.
The Eagles’ defense promises to be big on pressure, or at least the “illusion” of pressure, something that the late Jim Johnson was a master at.
“Now he had some great dynamic pressures, and I’ve studied a lot of them,” Davis said. “They were out-of-the-box thinking. But when you really break him down, it was more guys up in the A-gaps with the illusion of pressure than actual [sending] more than four rushers.”
From what we’ve learned so far, this defense will be big on multiple looks and disguises. It will attack in the name of turnovers. What we don’t know is whether their efforts will be successful, especially early on.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.