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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis

Posted Jul 27, 2014

Q. How legitimate are the chances that CB Nolan Carroll ends up as one of the starting cornerbacks?

BILL DAVIS: Oh I think everybody has a legitimate chance at the starting jobs. That's one thing about the off season and Training Camp that we pride ourselves on. It's open competition at all spots.

And guys that are new coming in, whether it's a young rookie or it's a veteran from another team, is that we open the doors, and competition is the healthiest thing that we've got going and they are all competing for the starting job. I think it's a great possibility. Anything's possible.

Q. Carroll seems to get his hands on a lot of footballs. Is that something you guys saw at least in the spring on film or liked about him?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. He's a very well rounded talent. He's got size, he's got length, he's got speed. He's a real tenacious competitor. I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he's got a good knack for the ball.

I think he's a good asset to us, he's a great addition and we look forward to seeing him in camp and how he fits into our system.

Q. At outside linebacker, there are no rookies or new faces. How is the depth relative to last year?

BILL DAVIS: Well, you touched on it that they are in the same system and they are really our quarterbacks out there. They set the fronts. They set coverages. They make adjustments and having a bunch of intelligent experience now in our scheme; experience in our scheme, we think the depth is solid.

Q. What are you looking for out of LB Marcus Smith in the early going?

BILL DAVIS: They come at their own pace. We give them every opportunity to teach and grow them. Every rookie is different.

Really once they get in the building it doesn't matter the pecking order of the draft or undrafted; the fact that they are here; they are young; they have got to learn how to play in the NFL; they have got to learn how to practice in the NFL; they have got to pick up our systems which are much more complicated than most of them ran in college.

It's on every individual rookie to grow at their pace and we have got an open mind with all of them and we hope they grow very fast, but time will tell.

Q. What has impressed you about Marcus to this point?

BILL DAVIS: Marcus is a very hard worker and a very intelligent guy and very athletic. So you have a bunch of characteristics that you look for in all Eagles players. He cares a lot about the game.

He's picked it up fairly quickly and one of the biggest things that attracted us to him was that Louisville and Charlie Strong's defense is a lot like ours, and the way they used him is a lot the way we use our ‘Jack’ position.

So he comes in not as an end, a 4 3 end in college that we are converting to a 3-4 outside backer. He's coming to us as a 3-4 outside backer. The only knock is that he doesn't have much experience on the defensive side of the ball. So we see potential there for growth.

Q. In the spring, you spoke about DE Fletcher Cox and his transition playing more to the gap. How much last year did you allow him to shoot gaps?

BILL DAVIS: It was situational  a lot. On our run downs, it was strictly 2 gap. More 2 gap than anybody else and we play more and if you're playing one of the defensive end positions and we're in our base, you're going to be more 2 gap than anything else.

We are not gap penetrators in our kind of run base defense. And when we get to penetrators is when we are in our nickel or dime even Jet 4 3 spacing. So we are both. In base, we major in the 4 3 2 gap but when we get into our nickel, it goes to 4 3 and some elements of 3-4 mixed in.

Q. When you're in that nickel defense, what technique is he normally playing and does he have free range in pass rush?

BILL DAVIS: I can't answer that in one answer because we have got some 3-4 elements in our nickel where he is back to 2 gapping, and we have 3-4 elements where he is gap penetrating. We stunt in game a lot so you're on the move.

So you're trying to use all the talents that he has and the rest of the D line have and kind of maximize our different packages.

Q. Was there anything behind DT Bennie Logan not getting a lot of reps with the first team?

BILL DAVIS: We're rolling and just moving guys in and out. That's one thing you will notice that not only the corners, the safeties, the first two weeks, there's nobody 1s and 2s. We are rolling guys all the way around so we can see them against different competition. The D line always has a very extensive sub rotation package that all the positions will have.

Q. The competition between safeties Nate Allen and Earl Wolff, do you see that going deep into Training Camp?

BILL DAVIS: I don't see it as just those two going at each other. I see the safety positions are up for grabs. We bring Malcolm (Jenkins) in. We have got new faces in. Chris (Maragos) is involved.

All the guys, all the safeties that are lined up at safety, it's an open competition just like we talked about at the corner position. And we roll them in and out.

So I don't see it as a two man race for that one spot. Right now we are in the very first part of Training Camp and it's open for all of them and we'll be rolling them and they get a chance to go against 1s, 2s and 3s.

Q. The additions you made on the back end and the addition of Marcus Smith seem to give you more flexibility this year with your sub packages. Would you anticipate that having a trickle down effect on giving fewer snaps to your inside backers and to Connor Barwin this year? Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans both played 1,100 snaps and Kendricks would have been on that pace if he played 16 games.

BILL DAVIS: It's something we are very concerned about. We don't want any of them to play all the snaps. It's too many snaps for any one defensive player. We know we had, way too many. It benefits both us and the player and DeMeco or Mychal that we get a rotation in there, too. We'll get that rotation all the time through different packages and with the addition like you touched on of some new players, it will give us a little bit more flexibility.

We really ran last year out of two personnel packages, a base and a nickel and I think we can grow and add those personnel packages, maybe two or three more packages.

Q. When you said that Smith doesn't have that much experience on the defensive side of the ball, how do you get him some of that experience very quickly so he can make a contribution from the get go?

BILL DAVIS: One of the benefits that we have with the style of practice and the no huddle offense where every period is no huddle, our seconds and thirds  and I've gone back and charted this, they get almost twice as many reps as the other teams I've been at when you're sitting in the second and third spot. We have more reps per period and we have more reps per practice.

So the 2s and the 3s get more of those, and really, what this kid needs more than anything else is reps. He needs a big volume of reps every day, getting his eyes in the right spot, his feet, his technique and that hopefully will grow them faster.

Q. Do you see him at some point being on the field on third down passing situations with Trent Cole or Barwin, and at some point does he have to get some experience against the top flight offensive linemen?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. Absolutely. We do have to roll him in and that's part of the reason you'll see him running at times with the 1s against our tackles so we can evaluate him against some of the best tackles in the business. Over there against (LT) Jason (Peters), you're not going to get any better work than going daily day in, day out against him.

When we get to preseason, we do get our younger guys and rookies in quicker than most and we are trying to match our guys in against their 1s at times for that very reason so we can evaluate our 2s against the top flight 1s, and that's the true evaluation you get in Training Camp.

Q. Have you tackled to the ground in camps where you were before or have you seen that?

BILL DAVIS: No. At times we did in New York, it was a small period, might have been goal line. Very rarely has anyone done that because of the way you expose too many people to injury on a daily basis.

Q. When you’re doing your evaluations in terms of tackling, I know you did a little bit of one-on-one work --

BILL DAVIS: In a contained drill, yes.

Q. In that first game you had problems with tackling but it improved. Why was it able to improve without adding that tackling to the ground?

BILL DAVIS: I think all of us in the NFL any more are getting better and better at teaching tackling and working on tackling without the tackling to the ground element. A lot of that is body placement, coming into balance.

You'll see that we have our guys two hand tag below the waist. If you can two hand a runner like (LeSean McCoy) below the waist, your body is in a position to tackle him.

If you can continually work on putting your head in front of the ball carrier, as opposed to behind  I think one of biggest problems we had last year when I broke down the tackling issues was our head placement was always behind the ball carrier, leaving all arm tackles. We kept working on it and talking about it and as we went on and got better at tackling, our head placement along with our total form tackle increased. And we have to build on where we left off at the end of the season.

Q. Given what you were talking about the sub packages, will you look differently defensively this year because you've had a year? Is it unfair to look at last year and say this is what the defense is going to be?

BILL DAVIS: I think last year you saw the base foundation of the defense and what we have added and grown. We have kept our foundation and we really had some bridge concept coverages we’ve added, some run calls we've added.

We've grown it in a way that we didn't take away what we did last year, the guys understand what we did, and we just saw some holes and maybe where game plan tools we didn't have, we've added them in the off season. We’ve worked on them and continue to work on them here. So we think we've grown the package without changing the package at all. We've just given ourselves more tools.

Q. What do you see as the personality of this defense? Will it be more of an aggressive, attacking defense?

BILL DAVIS: I think the biggest thing you see is a year ago, you saw more assignment football. Guys were studying hard to know their assignment, what was asked of them and they were trying real hard to get to their assignment and maybe not understanding their whole picture of how they exactly fit with their teammates and how it all came together.

It's a learning curve, and you've got to start at the bottom and learn yours first, and then you spread out and learn around yours.

We've had an awesome off season. Not only our attendance but the participation and effort that went into the meeting time and everything else; I think our guys have a much better understanding of not only their assignment. I think they feel the whole package now, the whole defense, how they fit, why their teammates rely on them to do a certain technique we are asking them to do or align in a certain way. I think all of that has grown and will make the package stronger.

The personality of this group will show itself when we play games in the preseason and as we play games on Sunday. Every year your team takes on a different personality. Our goal defensively is to break the rhythm of an offense and to get them off the field as often as possible with turnovers and third downs.

We have a lot of room to improve, and hopefully we pick up where we left off at the end of last season.

Q. What's it like to game plan and go against a player like Darren Sproles now that you see him in practice each and every day?

BILL DAVIS: I'm so glad he's in practice and not in the real games. He was a great addition. I was so happy when we got him. I know he's not a defensive weapon but offensively, he took a lot of our attention when he was in the game because he’s a mismatch on linebackers and safeties. He's just so quick and so good in space and just a great fit for our space offense.

This offense really makes you defend the width and depth much the field and when you have players like Shady and now Darren, you've got another weapon in space that makes it that much tougher to defend. I'm glad he's on our team.

Q. Is this the best opportunity you've had as a coordinator to show what you can do? I remember when you got hired last year, you said I understand there are reservations about me. Do you feel more in a position to show all your capabilities this year?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely, and one thing, I think the biggest misconception, me as a coordinator in San Francisco and you judge me as a coordinator alone in Arizona, and it's not that way. Success or failure is not mine. It's ours.

I've got a great staff. Not that I wasn't part of good staffs before, but this staff is really a great veteran teaching staff. It's all of us that have the success. It's all of us that turned it last year. It's all of us that grew the foundation and it will be this year, also.

It is not me and my defense. It is the Philadelphia Eagle defense. A lot of people go into it.

And I'm very excited about being in my role with this group.

Q. Is there a person, when you imagine your ideal defensive squad, how close to it is this? Do you have that in your mind of what a Billy Davis defense would look like?

BILL DAVIS: Yes, but I'm very hesitant to call it a ‘Billy Davis defense.’ I really don't believe that. I believe because it's all of us collectively making decisions on game plans, it's collectively making decisions on personnel, and it's not just me in a little box in my world. It's us. So I don't like identifying it that way.

Q. Is Jaylen Watkins going to get any looks at safety?

BILL DAVIS: Right now one of the reasons we picked him, he's a very versatile player. We want to start him out at corner and see where he is at corner and see the skill set he has and want to look him at nickel. Those are two corner-world positions.

He's got a very high football IQ and as he digests those two positions, I think we can grow him to where he could play safety if we needed him to and depending how the roster plays out; we love the versatility in his skill set.

Q. You mentioned that not a lot of teams play the two-gap 3-4 now, when you met with Chip and got the job, why was that the direction and what are the advantages?

BILL DAVIS: Well, a lot of it has to do with stopping Chip's offense in the spread. But they make you leave the box, and when you're in the 4 3, it's much harder. You don't have as much versatility to handle the bubbles and the width. When you're in the 3-4 with the two standup outside backers, you can expand your defense.

So the 3-4 really fits not only what he's doing; it's also my history and the majority of what I've done. It's what worked best at Oregon. We combined all  we just kind of sat down and kind of collectively said what's the best for the Philadelphia Eagles and the division we play in and how we want to go forward, and the 3-4 is by far what we feel most comfortable with.

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