Q. Yesterday, Head Coach Chip Kelly said he didn't see a lack of talent as an issue for the Eagles in what happened this season. Where does that put things in terms of who is responsible?**
COACH DAVIS: Well, I think we're all responsible. We just had a good meeting with the players and everybody has got to look at themselves and it starts with me, defensively. I've got to look in the mirror and say, 'Why did we start [so well], in an area that we were excited about in the first half of the season?' And the thing that keeps coming back to me is the consistency. When you have the ability to play good defense and you show that, then you know that you do have talent there and you do have coaching and you do have scheme. But the inconsistency part of that is what let us down this year. And I'm the first one in line to make sure I've got to get that consistency right. [It's] consistency in tackling, scheming it to where the guys are in position to make plays and then getting out of the way and letting them make plays. So we'll focus on the Giants this week and then after that we've got a lot of time to reflect on how it went south on us. And everybody's got to start with themselves and that starts with me.
Q. You were a top-10 defense going into the Carolina Panthers game. In yards per play you were sixth in the league after nine weeks, which is more than half the season. Does consistency explain such a precipitous drop? Have you ever experienced anything like that before?
COACH DAVIS: I haven't and that's something that we have to -- I've got to find the answer to that. And right now, without diving into it like we do in the offseason, the inconsistency is what jumps out, and it's from third down, to stopping the run, to the X-plays. The red zone touchdowns are really something I've got to solve. It's points on the board, which is something that we haven't had an issue with before, but now we have. So we'll look at all of it. This week the focus is on the Giants and going down there and putting our best out there and winning a game and finishing the thing right. Playing defense like we know we can and did early in the season. That's what the focus is right now.
Q. Scheme-wise, how much have you really adjusted or changed up over this last month or so, especially in the secondary and --
COACH DAVIS: In the season as a whole, we've added quite a few coverages that we haven't done in the past. Our football IQ in the secondary is a big reason why we can do that. We've moved around a lot of things and even in the game the other night we went to an all-DB package on third down to play some man coverage. So we've made a lot of adjustments and done some new coverages that we hadn't done in the past. Some of them have been great for us and some of them haven't worked out. So the scheme part of it we're constantly looking at how we can -- Again, our whole job as a coaching staff is how we can get these players in position to make more plays, and then get out of their way and watch them make the plays. And that's really what our goal is.
Q. Can you play the number of snaps that your defense is asked to play and be effective?
COACH DAVIS: Yes. I'll say it this way, and I know I've answered this a couple times during the course of my time here, but we are responsible defensively to get ourselves off the field. For instance, the other night on third down I think we were 5-of-14 something. Three of those were third-and-longs and the third-and-longs were converted and on those drives they turned into touchdowns. So we've got to get ourselves off the field on those third-and-longs. Really we have to get our third down up higher than it is. Those are things that we're in control of, so I can't point outside of ourselves when defenses can control getting defenses off the field.
Q. What happened at inside linebacker this year? It seemed as if early on, especially when LB Jordan Hicks was contributing, it was a strength, but LB Mychal Kendricks never seemed to live up to his potential and LB Kiko Alonso wasn't exactly a contributor for a portion of the year. What happened there?
COACH DAVIS: Well that's something I've got to look at. I've got to look at it hard, because I do believe in the players we have and I believe in the positions we put them in. The other night, the pass defense was what really hurt us in that room and I've got to help them get the techniques down and understanding leverage and where they're at and winning the one-on-ones in pass coverage. But collectively as a unit, I could say that about every position group that there are inconsistencies in the play that contribute to the failure or success of the team and it's my responsibility to get those things solved and get it right.
Q. Last year you guys gave up 33 touchdown passes, turned over the entire secondary other than S Malcolm Jenkins, and then this year gave up 34, which is a franchise record. How disappointing is that? How much of that is pass rushing and how much of that is the guys in the back?
COACH DAVIS: It all is combined and It's all attached. It's highly disappointing that we've given up those touchdown passes and the majority of them have come in the red zone. So, again, it's a focus that we've been working on and trying to solve that issue and have to continue to work and get it solved and take a good, hard look at everything we're doing in those areas and solve the problem.
Q. Jenkins has played almost every snap this year and last year, too. What has made him so durable in the last two years?
COACH DAVIS: I think it's the work he puts in. Malcolm is one of the guys that takes advantage of the sport science system we have here, probably more than anybody. He's all in with taking care of his body, with doing all the little things extra to get his body right and recovered. I think he's just a true pro in that aspect, where he's doing all the things right. And that's what it takes. The athletes that I've been around that make it a whole season and make that many snaps are highly in tune with their body and what they do to it during the season, and how they handle the offseason. I think Malcolm is a prime example of that.
Q. LB Marcus Smith didn't play any defensive snaps on Saturday. He has played 91 snaps the entire season. Has he shown you anything?
COACH DAVIS: Marcus continues to -- All of the young guys have all the opportunities in practice and that's kind of how we determine how long and how much we'll play them. Marcus has got to continue to get better. There hasn't been a whole lot of production yet. We're still working and Marcus is working hard at it and hopefully we can get some production from him.
Q. Chip Kelly said yesterday that the thing that hurt you guys early on was the zone coverages and that was one of the things the running backs were able to exploit. What made you want to go zone early on, especially how earlier in the season it seemed like something that didn't work as well?
COACH DAVIS: Well, you look at going in and out of man [coverages] and zones. You can't sit in any one coverage without an offense attacking you. You look at matchups in your man coverages: Where do you want to help and how do you want to help? By splitting the safeties lately in the second half of the season, we've had more success than when I was pressuring higher at the mid-range. So again, in an effort to find what our guys do best, we played some more zones and it helped us on the vertical ball, on the X-plays and on taking care of DeSean [Washington Redskins WR DeSean Jackson] on the outside and [Washington Redskins WR Pierre] Garçon. But then [they worked] the inside. So wherever you move your help in a coverage, you've got to hold up -- Everybody, no matter what call you make, there are a number of players that have a harder down than others. Where am I giving the help? Where am I taking the help away? When you give help to one spot, the other ones have to hold up.
Q. On that point, it sounded like last week Jenkins thought he would be covering Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed. On Reed's two touchdowns, Jenkins was not covering him. Why was the safety not on the tight end in that situation?
COACH DAVIS: Because every call -- You cannot make the same call over and over again to have that matchup. Sometimes there's a zone that we're in over the top of DeSean for a vertical pass. First and second downs we were a little more zone. In man, on third down, there's almost always man and I just have to pick whether I put a double on Garçon and put a double on D Jax [Jackson] so he doesn't go over the top of us, but that leaves a one-on-one inside. Then when I say, 'Put Malcolm on the [tight end],' well now I go down there and there's one-on-one's out at the other spots. The other night I moved in and out of the matchups and the combinations and early on, on first and second down in the zones, Reed was having some success, but those zones were in place to help the outside with the other threats that they have. And then when [Reed] was a problem, we said, 'Okay, now we're going to go back in here and now we have to hold up out there.' So the game is constantly moving and [is about] who is struggling and who is not struggling. You go into a game with a plan. Now Reed was a big target on third down that we wanted to make sure that Jenk was on there. But you can't make one call every play to make that one matchup.
Q. Hicks is only one guy, but it seems like a lot of the issues started right after the Dallas game when he got hurt. He was making so many big plays and when he left you had to play Alonso more snaps that you maybe wanted and Kendricks wasn't healthy yet. Is it possible that the loss of Hicks was one of the big contributing factors to the decline?
COACH DAVIS: Well, we're very excited about Jordan and the way he was playing and what he was contributing to the defense, but I wouldn't say that's [the] one point that it turned on us and that without Jordan we can't succeed. There's no way we'll go there. We've got a lot of capable, good players that I have to put in better positions and they have to make the plays when they're in position. That's really what it is and on a consistent basis. I think everybody that's in the league right now that hasn't met expectations, like we've fallen short of our expectations, you've got to look hard at yourself and you've got to look hard at everybody and what you asked them to do and then their ability to do it and understand it and get it done.
Q. Do you see LB Najee Goode as a guy who could be able to play some day at inside linebacker? What have you seen from him?
COACH DAVIS: Najee is a solid player. Najee's been on the field over the last three years for us. Obviously Najee is in the fourth spot of the four linebackers that we have and that's through every day in practice. We believe in Najee, but right now we also believe in Mychal and Kiko and DeMeco [LB DeMeco Ryans], and we've got to get them playing at a higher level. We'll continue to roll guys in and out. It's not just that one position that we've got to get more consistent production out of it. It's all of them and again that falls back on me.
Q. With Alonso, how much will another offseason and being two years removed from the injury help him gain more of a grasp of the defense and get more comfortable? How much more will that help him next year?
COACH DAVIS: I think he'll make a big leap. I really do. I think having last year off with no football, this year starting with the injury and coming off and always thinking about it, [playing] in a new system – And there are no excuses here for Kiko. Everyone has got to play better and do better. But I do believe, and my experience has been the second year in a system and making the calls and hearing the calls and understanding every little detail of what is asked of him, I think that will absolutely help Kiko. And not having to have an offseason of thinking about an injury rehab, he's thinking 'How am I going to get better and play better?'
Q. Getting back to Smith, Chip Kelly said yesterday that the main reason he's not playing more is because it's hard to take LBs Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin off the field. But if Smith was able to play better and be that third guy, would you like to have more of a rotation at outside backer?
COACH DAVIS: You always want to give the guys a break, but you have to play the guys that are playing the best for you. If there's too big of a gap, the other guy doesn't play. If you're asking me if I would like all the best players I can have and have more? Absolutely. And to have everybody playing at the highest level? The answer is absolutely yes. But right now it's tough to take Connor or B.G. off to put Marcus on.
Q. As you look at this year and your three years here, what do think you've accomplished and how do you think you've done?
COACH DAVIS: I think we've made progress in some areas. This year, I really believe we were turning the corner and had it turned at about the eight or nine game mark and were very excited about the group and their understanding and where we were going. And it went south on us and that's the problem I have to solve. I have to figure out why and when and how and then how are we going to fix it and how are we going to make sure it doesn't happen next year? Because we've shown we're capable of playing top defense, but we didn't hold serve. We didn't maintain it through a 16-game season and that's disappointing. That's what I have to figure out.
Q. You still have one game left against the New York Giants. Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. obviously is a tough cover. Is it tough to get your guys up knowing that you're not moving on to the postseason?
COACH DAVIS: Not this group. This is a mature group with good leadership. And in the NFL it's one week at a time is all you have and you play for your teammates and you play for each other and you go out there and you compete because that's what you do and that's how you're wired. We've got a hell of a challenge in stopping the New York Giants which is a very potent offense. They've got weapons. They've got stats. They've got a great scheme. They've got a quarterback that can make all the throws, and does, and if he gets hot, you're in trouble. So we've got to make sure that we go in there and we will. It's a good group that will fight all the way to the end. We'll cross the finish line going full speed. No one will pull up, no one is letting go of the rope and no one is going to coast in or mail it in. This is a prideful, tough group and it's got good leadership.
Q. What gives you confidence that you'll be able to get this fixed?
COACH DAVIS: Well, we've got the right guys. We've got -- Again, the first eight or nine games, and I hate to keep going back to this, but the proof is there. The proof is there that we can play within the scheme and we do have the players that can make plays and stop the run game and get off the field on third down. Again, [it's] why it went and turned on us. I have to figure that out and we have to as a staff. I believe in the guys we have and the minds we have up there and the experiences we have collectively, and we as a group and as an organization will solve this problem.
Q. Are you confident that you will be in a position to fix it?
COACH DAVIS: I am, yeah. Yeah, I am. In the NFL, when you talk about job security, your job is on the line every week. As an NFL coach, every week it's on the line and you see that by the firings that happen from head coach to coordinators to position [coaches] all through the season. There's never a day or a week that you don't think your job is on the line as a coach. That's why we put the hours in we do and that's why we dedicate ourselves like we do. It's a big boy business and it's part of the deal. The only way to stop the conversation about your job security is to win more games. That's all it's about. So we've got to make sure we find the reasons we didn't win enough games this year and change that for next year. And that's all you think about. You dive completely into your job and solving problems and in this business you can't worry about the others because you know wins will solve that.
Q. Can you get much accomplished in that regard in a game that doesn't have as much meaning as if you were going for a playoff spot?
COACH DAVIS: Absolutely. I think that's the reason you can. You truly see who you have and how they respond. What kind of man are you if you can't respond when things don't go the way you wanted them to go? We're all disappointed. So every player is disappointed. Okay, it didn't go our way. How do we respond going into this game? Individually, they'll show us who they are and collectively we'll show who we are and that's why this game is that important. That's why this game will reveal a lot of character and dedication and love of the game to us.