Q. What does getting LB Mychal Kendricks' new contract done mean for the defense this year and in the long term?
BILL DAVIS: I think it's a great move. We're real excited about Mychal, and I think Mychal, like most of the young guys who get their second contract, it gives you peace of mind and the ability to relax your mind a little bit and not worry about lifelong security. Now that he has that, he can really focus on his craft and getting great at it. I think it's great for Mychal to have that. He's the kind of guy who really will probably flourish because he has the contract done.
Q. He is not the prototype inside linebacker, but what is it about how he plays football that led the team to make this sort of investment?
BILL DAVIS: You know, in this day and age, I think the prototype, he's getting close to it, because I don't think there's really a need with all the passing and really the spread out offenses out there, you need speed and athleticism in there. The old days, especially in a 3 4, we used to find the big Levon Kirkland's [former NFL linebacker] that could go butt heads with a guard and you don't need that quite as much anymore, at least in our style we don't need that.
Q. Does this new contract guarantee that Kendricks plays three downs?
BILL DAVIS: There are no guarantees, at all. But he's played three downs for us so far, so I don't think the contract doesn't guarantee him anything, but Mychal is a three down player, absolutely, and in the NFL you're really looking for that.
Q. And LB Kiko Alonso could be a three down guy, too?
BILL DAVIS: Could be, yeah.
Q. So what does that mean for LB DeMeco Ryans?
BILL DAVIS: DeMeco could play three downs, too. DeMeco has played a lot of downs for us. It means we have three good inside backers that we've got a lot of options with. It depends what's coming at us, too. Nowadays we've got so many 11-personnel groupings for 60, sometimes 70 percent of the game, the ability to have all those three guys in there, because some people are going with 11 to run the ball and some are going to pass. It's a great, great scenario to have with those three quality inside backers.
Q. Are you looking forward to seeing them together finally?
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. Hopefully by the time we get to game day they're all ready to roll and going. But I actually I see them in practice all the time, too.
Q. But you don't see them live.
BILL DAVIS: You don't see them as much. These guys have played a lot of football, so I've seen a lot of live football from them, so it's really not something we need. I think they need it sometimes more than anything, just kind of to get the rust off and tune up and get ready to go, but it's not something that I need to see because I know what they can do.
Q. Do you think it'll be a week to week thing in how you deploy the three of them?
BILL DAVIS: Yeah, I do. I think it will. I think they'll all get a lot of reps. As a matter of fact, I know that. There's three quality players that need to play, and hopefully I can put them in the right situations and let them do what they do best the most amount of times.
Q. Is this the most talent you've ever had overall? At this time in the season, have you ever before felt like, 'Wow, I've got this, this and this?'
BILL DAVIS: You know, it's tough to compare, but it's a great feeling right now. We do feel like we have a lot of talented young men that we're looking forward to using all their skills. So I don't know if I'd compare every roster I've been on, but this one is absolutely one of the top.
*Q. But it's different from last year at this time for you in terms of *
BILL DAVIS: Yeah, it is. We're deeper. We're absolutely deeper, yes.
*Q. Do you think Kendricks was paying much attention to the speculation before the draft that he wasn't going to be here very long? Do you sense any *
BILL DAVIS: I think they're all human beings, and I think they're all sensitive to their security, and especially, I've been through so many seasons now, I've seen so many young men go through that first free agency, and it is a stressful time for them because they're waiting for that contract that could set them up for life versus an injury. It's just a lot that weighs on them, and you see them really relax and change a little bit once that contract is signed. So, I think he was.
Q. When you played the Seahawks last year how did you have your guys defend the zone-read?
BILL DAVIS: Different calls or different ways of doing it, different defenses. We are a two gap system, so we have different ways of doing it. We can absolutely make the quarterback keep it, we can make the quarterback give it on any given call, so it varies by call, and then when I jump into 4 3, like when we do in some of the nickel, and they're still running it, now that's a whole different animal, so it depends on the call.
Q. How do you differentiate a quarterback in the shotgun who is handing the ball off and a designed zone-read play? How do you make that distinction in that split second?
BILL DAVIS: Really, in all my seasons of coaching in the NFL, it's real simple to me: A, you tackle the man with the ball in the backfield, so whoever has the ball is who you're trying to tackle. Then, from the position of not knowing who has it, the running back or the quarterback, what they had was a little bit easier to read than when your quarterback's back is turned to you. But from there, when you hit a quarterback in the backfield, you've got to stay above the waist and below the neck, whether he has it or not. I have had more penalties called against us hitting a quarterback if you go below the knees, absolutely you're going to be called 100 percent of the time. When he is back there, whether you say he might be a runner or not, it doesn't matter. The NFL is going to protect quarterbacks. So when we teach them, we teach, A, 'Tackle the guy with the ball,' and B, 'If it is the quarterback that you think has the ball, you've got to tackle him in the framework that the NFL has set up.' If he's back there, it's got to be above the waist and below the neck, or you're going to be flagged. And we absolutely teach that, that you've got to stay above. Now, you can hit him if you believe he has the ball. Now, if you have a step or two and you know he doesn't have the ball and you hit him, there's probably a flag coming. Now, when you make him be the runner and he keeps it as a runner, now you hit him any way you want to hit him. But when it's in that gray area, the NFL is going to protect the quarterbacks, period. They always have and they always will. That is what drives the NFL.
Q. In those games against QBs Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, if you wait a second to see if the quarterback has the ball or not, the quarterback could have the ball and break free in that second. Do you teach the guys to go after the quarterback against those teams?
BILL DAVIS: Again, it's the responsibility on that call that you have, that you have to have your responsibility if your responsibility on that call is to have the quarterback, then you absolutely hit the quarterback if you think he has it, but you hit him above the waist and below the neck because he's back there. If you don't, you're going to be flagged.
Q. But if the NFL is going to protect the quarterback, are you surprised by NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino's comments yesterday?
BILL DAVIS: I don't care who says what about anything. What I know in my experience in the NFL, is a quarterback is going to be protected, period. Unless [the quarterback] is a runner out in the field, then he is a runner. But they are going to protect them, and I don't care who says what, it's going to be that way and it's always been that way, and it will continue to be that way.
Q. Do you teach your guys that if you're an unblocked defender that it's going to be a zone read?
BILL DAVIS: No. Again, it falls within the scheme, and I keep coming back to this because in our two gap scheme, we'll have somebody assigned to the dive or the give, and somebody is scraping for the quarterback if he keeps. A lot of times, guys, the shotgun run game on that play in question, there were six blockers for seven defenders, so the offense has to let one defender go. With six, you can only block six, so it's usually the guy farthest away from the intent of the run, which is the backside end. So sometimes you call him with a boot, sometimes you hold him with just a give, but you have to let one of them unblocked, and that's all that happened there is they left him unblocked.
*Q. Do you remember Russell Wilson's touchdown last year on *
BILL DAVIS: Yep. [Former Eagles LB and current Colts LB Trent] Cole should have it.
Q. It wasn't former Eagles LB Casey Matthews' responsibility?
BILL DAVIS: No, but it was because of the call. The call was an all out blitz, which put Trent on the quarterback only because we didn't have a second level defender because he was a blitzer. Does that make sense to you? So Trent had to stay outside and should have hit the quarterback and hit him normal high, and you've got it. That was a penalty there because he went below their knees.
Q. I wanted to ask you about a guy currently on the defense. LB Diaheem Watkins --
BILL DAVIS: The Eagles defense! Here we go.
Q. Just what Watkins showed you the other night and in practice and since he's been here.
BILL DAVIS: You know, he's really been impressive. I didn't know anything about him when we got him, and each week he's just getting more sound and more stable in the position, and he's making some plays for us. We're excited to see where he can go from here.
Q. How tough is it for a guy like that who comes in late?
BILL DAVIS: It's hard. We've had our share of waive injured players and new guys come in, and they've done a nice job. We really as a coaching staff put a lot of time in seeing how teachable of a system we could put in two years ago, three years ago, and now it's times like this that show you that the guys are playing pretty well without many mental errors, so we're happy with the teachability of the system, and then we have some of the best position coaches as teachers in the business, and that shows. When you see guys plugged in that quick, that says a lot about the teachers that are coaching them.
Q. You guys had DB Eric Rowe playing nickel well into the second half. I was just wondering what your impressions are of how he's doing?
BILL DAVIS: Of Eric?
BILL DAVIS: Yeah, Eric is doing a nice job. This is the first time he's ever played inside for us. We kept the calls pretty simple, but he did a nice job. I mean, he's got a nice press technique. He understood leverages, which is what you really have to do in the nickel slot spot. Eric is still growing outside, on the outside, so he'll swing back and forth, and I've said this for a couple years now, it's hard to know the outside and the inside and all the little different parts of it, and as a young guy we try to stay out of that. But right now we're trying to see if one of the corners will take the nickel spot so we can keep the safeties back deep, but it's still up in the air.
Q. What kind of a dimension will LB Kiko Alonso add once he gets on the field probably this week?
BILL DAVIS: Kiko is one of the most well rounded inside backers. He's got length, he's got speed, athleticism, and he's a strong tackler like when he was the rookie of the year, all the tackles he had. We're really excited to see Kiko out there. He can rush the passer. Him and Mychal are good blitzers. So is [LB] DeMeco [Ryans]. DeMeco is getting better and better at beating those backs inside, too, so we're excited about the coverage/blitz ability that we have with all three of those inside backers.
Q. Do you think Alonso will be there this weekend?
BILL DAVIS: I hope so. I think so, yeah.
Q. Do you feel like you've seen enough of LB Marcus Smith this preseason that he's going to make this team?
BILL DAVIS: You know, I'm not cutting the roster today, but Marcus was really making strides. I think we've seen enough of him. I don't know the roster – we're two weeks away from even making those decisions, so right now let's hope he gets back and gives us maybe that last week. But I've seen a lot of Marcus. I'm excited about what I'm seeing and the growth he has, but I'm not cutting the roster today.
Q. How has S Jerome Couplin bounced back?
BILL DAVIS: Nice. Couplin had a couple nice tackles in there. He needs more reps and we've got to get him more time in the game, and the practices mean a lot because he missed that week and a half, but we were excited about the tackles he made the other night.
Q. Any concerns about him being rusty?
BILL DAVIS: No, not at all.
Q. Do you think Ryans will be 100 percent by the season opener?
BILL DAVIS: You know, I don't know. Those are tough injuries to get 100 percent, but boy, is he ahead of schedule. He's ahead of where most guys would be with that. I think it's going to be close. I think hopefully we can get him out there a little bit this week for his sake and ours to see just kind of where he is. But this week looks a lot better than last week and last week looked a lot better than the week before, and the way he works, it wouldn't shock me, but it could go either way.
Q. Did Ryans have a setback? He was practicing full up until recently.
BILL DAVIS: It was full, but because he's the veteran he is, you allow a guy like that who can control what happens within a down. There were times although he was practicing "full", he was being very cautious with it. So every week he's grown, but a guy like that you can allow to get a couple reps and still protect.
Q. A learning point, I guess, would be the year two years ago when Ryans played more snaps than anybody in the league on defense, and you guys weren't that deep at inside linebacker. Is there kind of a lesson as far as we need more than two of these guys? Does that have something to do with the situation now?
BILL DAVIS: That's part of the reason we're always excited about having eight people that can switch positions, play multiple positions; and be depth, so we will and can rotate. We rotate in the first half on purpose because we know how many snaps are coming, so we have to go ahead and rotate as many quality players as we can, and it helps everybody. It's unique that someone plays as many snaps as DeMeco did in that first season and really stay as healthy as he did. That's a tribute to him. That's a warrior right there to play that many snaps and played every game.
Q. With the young defensive backs on Saturday, they've got the Packers passing game and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to play against. What are they going to learn?
BILL DAVIS: I'm excited. I hope Aaron plays a lot because I'm really excited to see our guys go up against them. We took a pretty good beating last year down there, and we're excited about the challenge. We love competing against the best, like Aaron is, and they've got some quality receivers that hopefully they play that first half and we can really get a good test of where we are. And even in the second half when Aaron Rodgers isn't in, they're still moving that ball, throwing it around, and they've got depth at the receiver position, and we'll be challenged. It'll be interesting to see where we are.
Q. It seemed DB Walter Thurmond has locked down that safety spot. What has he done from the start of camp to now to do that?
BILL DAVIS: First thing that jumps to mind is how many turnovers and caused turnovers he's had in every practice. That kind of jumps out at you. He really is aware I've said this from the beginning; one of the biggest reasons we moved him was because of his awareness and his vision of the whole field. He naturally took the right angles back there, so he jumped out, but I would say turnovers more than anything. He's a ball hawk. Not only causing fumbles but the interceptions, too.