Eagles Almanac Excerpt: Davis Brings Steelers’ Influence

Below is an excerpt from my contribution to the 2013 Eagles Almanac.

Brian Solomon came up with the idea last year, assembled a group of talented writers (plus me) and put together the publication once again.

On the piece below, I teamed up with Derek Sarley of Iggles Blog fame to break down what to expect from Billy Davis and the Eagles’ defense. The chapter features anecdotes, interviews, All-22 shots and statistical analysis.

The other post I contributed looks at all the changes Chip Kelly has implemented at the NovaCare Complex.

I’ve just begun to scroll through this year’s Almanac and can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am. I’m not just being a salesman here. If you are a regular Birds 24/7 reader and an Eagles fan, you will not be disappointed.

Click here to download the PDF for $10.


There’s a reason the Eagles’ new defensive coordinator goes by Billy in league circles.

Davis was 26 when he got his first shot at an NFL job as the defensive quality control coach with the Steelers. But the name Bill had already been claimed by a new coach in Pittsburgh, who went by the last name of Cowher. And so the low man on the totem pole decided that Billy would be just fine by him.

The year was 1992, and Davis had just served two years as a graduate assistant at Michigan State. He had been around the game his whole life. Davis’ Dad spent 13 years in the NFL, including three separate stints with the Eagles as linebackers coach, tight ends coach and vice president of player personnel.

Having served as a ball-boy when he was younger, it’s safe to say there are several individuals who have influenced Davis over the years. But when you ask him where his defensive philosophy comes from, he points to those three years in Pittsburgh, working with an array of talented coaches like Cowher, Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau.

At the time, the Steelers were looking for an answer to the high-effi ciency passing game known as the West Coast off ense. Quarterbacks were getting rid of the ball quickly and completing a high percentage of their passes. Blitzing did not provide an e ffective solution because extra pressure meant man coverage and a degree of predictability that o ffenses preyed upon.

But that changed with the zone blitz schemes made popular by LeBeau and Capers. The idea was relatively simple: create confusion at the line of scrimmage by disguising which defenders were rushing and which were dropping back into coverage.

Davis has emphasized throughout the off season that his scheme will be based around personnel. But clearly, the kind of deception created by those Steelers teams will play a role in his defense.


Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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