Billy Davis Brings An Old-School Mentality To Eagles’ Defense
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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — According to a report by CSNPhilly’s Geoff Mosher, Billy Davis, who has 21 years of NFL coaching experience and the linebackers coach of the Cleveland Browns the last two years, will be the new defensive coordinator of the Eagles.
According to Scott Paxson, a Roman Catholic standout that played for Penn State—and with the Cleveland Browns when Davis was there, the Eagles made a sound choice.
Under Davis, a former defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, the Eagles may be re-aligned from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Davis did wonders with the Browns’ D’Qwell Jackson, who became one of the most dangerous middle linebackers in the NFL.
In 2011, Davis played a role in moving the Browns to 10th in the NFL in total defense, after finishing 22nd the previous season. It’s the first time the Browns had the NFL’s top-10 defenses since 1994.
Prior to Cleveland, Davis was Arizona’s defensive coordinator from 2009-10, where he coached cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a Cardinals’ Pro Bowler in 2009. While with the Cardinals in 2009, Davis’ defense allowed 325 points, the fifth-lowest total for the franchise since 1978.
“I think Coach Davis is good and he demands a lot from his guys, I know the linebackers really liked him, and they liked playing for him,” said Paxson, who played for the Browns in 2011 before getting hurt last year. “I know the linebackers were the smartest group on the defense and they communicated real well with us. When I was there, we played a 4-3 in Cleveland and I know Coach Davis was in 3-4 schemes before Cleveland, which was Dick Jauron’s defense.
“Just knowing him, when I was around Coach Davis, he knew his stuff and knew how to teach. I think that’s his biggest strength. Coach Davis is a very good teacher, he could get his schemes across to his guys. I know he’s helped D’Qwell a lot. But working in a 3-4, or 4-3, I think he can do a little bit of both, with an aggressive defense and a bend-and-don’t-break defense.”
Paxson also brought up an interesting point that’s been missing about the Eagles’ defense since defensive coordinator Jim Johnson died in July 2009. The Eagles haven’t had an attacking defense, with exotic blitz schemes.
“That’s something Coach Davis will bring,” Paxson said. “He’s an old-school guy, and a lot of guys there with the Eagles will like him. I was never in the meeting rooms with Coach Jim Johnson, but I have a feeling Coach Davis carries himself in the same way.
“He’s seen what works and what doesn’t work. Coach Davis was in Arizona and San Francisco and he does have a 3-4 background. But he’s seen both alignments. The NFL is changing into a 3-4 world. What Coach Davis does is he’s good at hiding things—that he hide when blitzes were coming and making the quarterback think one thing, and dropping back into coverage.”
Linebackers these days have to be hybrids, Paxson stressed, able to smash a running back to stuff a run and keep up with a Vernon Davis-type tight end running down field.
“Coach Davis brings something like that; he knows where guys should be and you’re going to do it every day for him,” said Paxson, who’s gearing in coming back next season. “I’m ready to go and hoping maybe someone like the Eagles gives me a shot. I think I fit real well in a 4-3 or a 3-4.”