Photo by Jeff Fusco
We’re nearing the end of Year 3, and the defense is still not right.
The Eagles have dedicated 15 of their 21 draft picks to defensive players under Chip Kelly. They reconstructed the roster this offseason in part to funnel more resources towards that side of the ball; rebuilt the secondary and invested $25 million in guaranteed money in Byron Maxwell and another $2 million in Walter Thurmond to bolster the back end this offseason.
Yet the desired growth has not been achieved. After a strong start in which the Eagles were near the top in many of the key categories, they have since experienced a sharp drop in production. Through 14 games, they are now 30th in opponent rushing yards/attempt (4.5), 27th in points per game (25.9) and last in red zone efficiency (69 percent TD rate).
There are bright spots, for sure, from the development of guys like Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan to their overall success rate creating turnovers (they’re tied for sixth with 25 on the season). And, given the offense they play opposite of, the numbers can get skewed so proper context is needed when evaluating their performance. (Football Outsiders, which dives deeper into the numbers, has the Eagles defense ranked 13th in the NFL, their offense 27th).
But safe to say this unit has not risen to the level of the elite, and as the weeks and seasons begin to pile up without the defense reaching its desired goal, the more scrutiny Davis faces.
As a football lifer who served as a ball boy for Dick Vermeil’s Eagles (his dad was an assistant) and has coached in this league since 1992, Davis knows the drill. He’s worked for nine different clubs; has been on good teams and bad ones; has risen to the ranks of coordinator three times, and has been fired twice.
During our one-on-one with him this week, we asked Davis about his current mind frame, job stability, the state of the defense, and the never-ending climb up the NFL’s “slippery slope”: Read more »