Three Highlights From Billy Davis

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis met with the media today. Here are three things that stood out from the session.

1. Since the day he was hired, Davis has talked about how defensive coordinators have to call games against the opposing quarterback and the opposing play-caller.

This week presents one of the best duos in the league in that respect with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. I asked Davis what makes Payton, specifically, so good as a play-caller.

“He’s probably one of the best in formations and matchups and adjustments,” Davis said. “He’s got a great mind as far as, again, he makes you defend the width and the depth of the field. And I think him and Drew are really one and the same person. They have worked so much together that their understanding together that no matter what is in Sean’s head, Drew can execute. And that’s the key to great offensive football is when the quarterback has the same understanding as at coordinator or the head coach in this case.”

The good news? Much of what Davis said about matchups, formations, adjustments and using the whole field can be applied to Chip Kelly’s offensive principles too.

The bad news? Davis has to come up with a plan for slowing down Payton and Brees.

2. Brandon Boykin has been the defense’s best playmaker in the back end all season long. His six interceptions during the regular season tied for second-most in the NFL. Yet Boykin has only played 51 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Davis gave an interesting answer when asked if there’s a way to get the second-year player on the field more.

“I really think, and I believe this, that one of the reasons that he’s grown like he’s grown and made the plays that he’s making is because we’ve allowed him to specialize and really focus on the nickel position and how to play,” he said. “He’s a young player that’s still growing, and I think that is one of the things that we’ve done that I’m most happy with. And I understand he’s got a lot of interceptions and second in the league, but I think that’s a product of specialization and really knowing exactly and playing a position with confidence. And that’s how you win.”

Translation for the short-term: Don’t expect to see Boykin in any other defensive roles against the Saints. But in the offseason, the conversation might be worth revisiting.

3. Kyle Orton dropped back to pass 47 times Sunday, and the Eagles failed to notch a sack. In all, they only had two QB hits and failed to make Orton uncomfortable in the pocket.

But Davis said the Cowboys’ QB was just getting the ball out quickly.

“Looking at the tape from the other night, the ball coming out that quick, they say, ‘Boy, the pass rush just wasn’t on,’ ” he said. “It’s a different time set. It’s a different time frame. It’s much harder to get to those guys that the ball is out right away. And sometimes, if he had held on one more count, we would have had him, and that’s a product. That’s why they get rid of it so quick.

“I’m very happy with the pass rush where it is. We have a lot of pressure and it’s a major cause for some of the turnovers we are getting.”

Brees has been one of the more difficult quarterbacks to sack this season. He was brought down 37 times total, but when you consider how often the Saints pass, that number is even more impressive. Football Outsiders had the Saints’ offensive line fourth in adjusted sack rate.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Bdawkbdawk

    Davis’ decision with Boykin is almost preordained. Take a look at his coaching tree. Capers did this with Woodson and now Hayward. Robert Mays’ intro in his All 22 piece should give us a good idea of what to expect out of Boykin in the future.

    • theycallmerob


  • jabostick

    I can understand Davis’ rationale (and this is basically what he’s been saying/hoping for all along) especially when Boykin could lay claim to best nickel DB in the league.

    But seeing how he played that ball against Dez Bryant, I hope he gets a chance in the offseason to ‘specialize’ outside and an every down player, if that’s where he wants to be.

    • theycallmerob

      you beat me to it. I liked his explanation a lot, think it’d be a stretch to extrapolate Boykin’s results to the outside.

      • GEAGLE

        Leave him in the slot….just because he handled Dez in the slot, doesn’t mean he can handle Dez on the outside..,why screw around movin him outside when you can keep giving him continuity til he becomes the best Nickle corner in the game…remember Al Harris? He was a 3rd corner, but had a very important role on an amazing defense..

    • mtn_green

      They tried Boykin on outside it didn’t work

  • cloisterwater

    I’ve heard that due to Brees’ height that he has to take mostly 5-7 step drops to see clearly over the line. Any chance this will provide the extra second needed to get to him? Or was Orton’s getting the ball out of his hand quickly more a product of quick decision making and not a shorter drop?

    • theycallmerob

      If I’m not mistaken, Brees has one of the fastest releases in the league

      • Will

        yup Brees a 9 year Vet is the real deal….

        • UKEagle99

          If it comes down to a kicking contest in our house and Henery doesn’t win it then we bin him. Shayne Graham has been with them for 3 weeks, I’m guessing he’s not Morten Anderson in his prime.

          • Will

            Graham has a 55 yarder to his credit he’s been bouncing around the league since 2000 but has been known to miss extra point tries….

      • GEAGLE

        No he is right…this year they are taking more shots down field, and he is going with a lot more 5 and 7 step drops..which should provide better rush opportunity then Orton did! who Dallas really didn’t trust to go Down field too often…yes, he has a fast release. But he isn’t taking as Many 3 step drops as previous years

    • GEAGLE

      Put it to you this way…if you are coaching, are you going to let Kyle Orton throw the ball 30 yards down field as much as you let Brees take shots deep?
      This year you see Brees taking shots down field frequently,..those aren’t 3 step drops..those are 5 and 7 steps. more steps a QB takes on his drops, more opportunities we get to try and Rock their QB…one of the top QBs in the game is going to take more shots down field, then a backup who took 15 snaps the past two years…Saints won’t be as conservative, which can hurt us more, OR give us more opportunities to hurt Brees…
      I want Kendricks to knock him out this game EARLY!!

      Do not let the saints get off to a fast start and take the venom out of our crowd…we have to start this game better then them, and at some point we will hav go weather their storm…

    • UKEagle99

      Barwin should be good for a batted ball or two but I want to see Trent Cole rape their rookie left tackle.

  • Will

    New Orleans is a high powered Offense that is pass happy, I expect to see a lot of Boykin in nickel this game…also thinking a lot of press man coverage as well…Brees has had a pretty good year so far and is second in most QB stats behind only Manning… 22 degrees game time and the 12th man might slow him down a bit…Billy D is gonna have to call his best game…no Zero coverage with Chung in coverage, why not have Chung blitz instead if you go that route, live and learn….

  • cloisterwater

    Fun fact: Shady has more rushing yards than the Saints (and 9 other teams).

    • Will

      That’s the ticket 25- 30 carries for McCoy this game…uptempo all game…if the O-Line can run block effectively should take a lot of pressure off of Foles… McCoy was what 27 carries for a buck 37 or 5 yds avg. last weekend and a lot of the run plays didn’t work but to there credit the Offense kept pounding the rock…excited to see what Chip’s game plan is for Saturday night…If the Eagles can run the ball they should run away with this game in the end…

  • GiveMeABreak

    This guy has done a great job. Kudos to Chip for picking a coach that looks good near the end of the season particularly where he appeared questionable at the beginning of the season.

  • Jason

    If we know that the QB is getting the ball out quickly, why aren’t we jamming receivers or jumping routes? How many times did the Cowboys run that quick out to Witten or the check down to Murray before we adjusted?

    That being said, we did adjust. Something we couldn’t say the last few years.

    • GEAGLE

      You need to trust your safeties to be able to Jam recievers…did you see Chung not tackle Dez? If you jam and get beat! you BETTER. Have safeties you trust to keep the YAC under control…Cary and Brad were brought here to press…as soon as we get quality safeties, you will see us predominantly press

      • Jason

        So your solution is to play scared? If your sole reason to not jam is based on one person unable to tackle. Not buying that

        Not to mention, that is a completely different type of tackle. Trust me, I won’t argue the validity of our safety play, but don’t handcuff the corners because of it

        • GEAGLE

          Lol ok

  • TNA

    I would love to see Chip go up against Payton (and Foles vs Payton or Brees) in a video game setting where they are given the same offense and defense talent wise. See who makes calls quicker and how they set up their play calls.
    Earlier this season, Davis said Boykin would be playing nickel for the next several years. That’s not going to change unless the marginal value equation changes next year with new personnel.
    I do think there needs to be a new breed of linebacker that can match up with the freaks that are now playing TE. Curious to see how Casey would play as a linebacker or safety as an experiment in the offseason.

    • mtn_green

      Kendrick’s is the LB that is fast and supposed to cover. He’s not the best at it. All safeties blow, that’s who you would want is a cover safety.


    Historically everyone thinks of Brees as this guy who gets the ball out lightning fast! but this year they have him taking more 5 and 7 step drops then ever.

    those big plays with Graham running 40 yards down field do not come off of 3 step drops. They will take plenty of shots down field, which provide opportunities to knock Brees block off!..Brees is a shorter guy, who has to create throwing lanes…let’s get in those lanes and get our hands up….we have become really good at blitzing the A gap with Kendricks, Meco or both. No pressure. Effects QBs like pressure up the middle, so if Kendricks and Meco can get home! they can cause Drew problems..
    Saints defense forced 17 turnovers the first half of the season…down the stretch, they only came up with 3 Interceptions, as their secondary got banged up..

    On the Dline, we have to keep Cameron in check…

    Rob Ryan’s defense has gotten GASHED by running backs for most of the season…gotta pound shady.

    They blitz a lot, so I’m sure we will burn them with a screen or two

    • GEAGLE

      To add…FOles and Kelce were spectacular presnap against the cardinals! diagnosing most of their exotic blitzes and getting us in position to pick up those blitzes and our offense did a fantastic job against the best blitzing team in the game..Drawing back on cardinals game can help a lot on both sides of the ball..Rob Ryan will blitz often, if we pick those blitzes up like we did vs. arizona’s better defense, then we will BURN this defense…
      Shady is gashing this defense no matter what, and our screen game will cost them dearly when we catch them in a blitz or two..,,if our Oline picks up the high volume blitzing! Ertz,Celek will expose roman Harper
      Btw, remember that Wheel route to RB we like to throw to shady, and against dallas we used Polk? We are going to connect for a big wheel route to a running back when we catch Curtis Lofton matched up on shady! Picture Trotter trying to defense Shady on a wheel route? Lofton is the same type of big downHill linebacker! MISMATCH!

      • UKEagle99

        As always, I hope you are right 😉


    You know what I have been thinking? Desean Desean Desean…has been busting his ass, Too dailed In all year not to return a punt for a TD all year,.he has flirted with a few…..Dunno, why but Desean breaking one this week has been on my mind..
    I also think we will force a saints RB to fumble…
    Our Dlinemen, have been turning the corner, and literally being an inch away from hitting aQBs throwing arm when it’s cocked back to throw all season…they have been inches away from forcing that fumble too many times. can we really go all year without getting one? Terron Armstead is too green to stop Trent Cole every single time.,,and all it takes is one! we will send our ILBs on A gap blitzes as usual, but Armstead should get tested with a heavy dose of twist, stunts, overload blitzes to his side..When you play a great QB, you try to throw a million different formations and schemes at keep switching it up against the greats and try not to let them get comfortable…well that GUARENTEED that Terron Armstead is going to see so many different Fronts,and schemes that I don’t see how he can hold up every single time…and all it takes is one time that he isn’t sure or is wrong with his assignment and we get a chance to make something happen..
    The saints are a big play offense Iike us. they rely on it…well our defense gives up the small stuff, and focus’s on taking away the big play, and for the most part they have become pretty damn good at it…we took away the big play all season, but early on we would miss tackles and get killed on YAC yards when we gave up the underneath throws…we have tightened that up drastically, yet we will still give up so much underneath, that it’s very difficult for you to get a big play on us, when Nate and Wolff are having a good game(Wolff says he is probably playing)…take away their big plays, and I don’t really fear the methodical part of Their offense. I don’t fear their RBs,,Sproles is more of a weapon in nthe pass game…..they can’t run the rock like us, and the ability to run the ball is HUGE in January when you aren’t a nice cozy dome…They can run the ball, and you damn sure ain’t running the ball against us…

    Control this game with our 3 backs, gash their blitz with screens, play action to Ertz and Celek when Roman Harper is matched up with them. Throw to shady when Lofton is matched up with him…30 plus points are going on the board!!!

    • Will

      The games the Saints lost were from teams that pressured Brees in the pocket, our front seven has to have there Best A game all night long…

  • Tautalatasi Jr.

    I think it was a good thing that Joselio Hanson didn’t want to mentor Boykin lol

    • Septhinox

      Aww man, I forgot all about him. lol

  • Brian

    Happy New Year, Guys (and Maggie)! GO BIRDS!!!

    • Maggie

      Why, thank you! And the same regards to one and all, even the grouches!

  • Will

    Happy New Year to All…

  • daggolden

    Move Boykin to FS. He is as big as Honey Badger and Elam of the Ravens.It is stupid that possibly your best defensive player only plays 51% of the snaps.Same thing goes with Curry. All he does is make plays on his 20 snaps per game. Boykin may be the playmaking FS we need.

    • theycallmerob

      Completely different positions, it doesn’t work like that. And he’s way too light for S

  • Reef215

    Did anyone notice that the Saints losses, Besides the patriots, the other 4 losses came from top 15 DEFENSES!!! Top 15!

    I wish analysts would stop with this cold weather nonsense. I love the Eagles & bleed green but I can’t see how in the world were going to keep up with them. .. .. . Oh the Saints have the 4th ranked defense. The 4th.

    Good luck birds. . ..

    • Brian

      I agree with your point about the weather. However, as far as the rankings go, none of that matters in the playoffs.

  • G B

    I thought the question was going to be asked to Davis “why was Chung covering and Boykin blitzing (instead of vice versa)” when Dez Bryant scored?

  • morgan c

    BD has done a great job, and yes, Orton was getting it out quickly, but you gotta believe he realizes our pass rush must be better against the Saints…