Patience a virtue for Eagles defensive coordinator Davis

St. Louis Rams v Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis has confidence in cornerback Cary Williams and the rest of his players. (Evan Habeeb, Getty Images / October 13, 2014)


— Turns out the sky was never falling, which is what Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis has been trying to tell everyone all along.

Starting with last year's debacle at Denver, which was followed by a fulfilled promise of better days, and continuing into this season, his players have consistently bounced back with unbelievable performances when least expected.

On Sept. 23, he calmly stared down the cameras with a straight face and said that, yes, he was happy with his pass rush after two straight games without a sack. Then last week, he did essentially the same after outside cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams were toasted in high definition by an obscure St. Louis Rams quarterback named Austin Davis.

They were doing the job, he insisted, backing the claim up with a technical explanation about the proper execution of inside leverage and some such, and how they fit with what the team is trying to accomplish and how it takes all 11 to stop the pass.

That he was vindicated during Sunday night's masterful 27-0 domination of the New York Giants doesn't necessarily mean he was entirely truthful. But it was a clear sign that the ends justified the means, that he had to do what he did, which was to support his players, no matter what.

It's still possible that our eyes have not been lying to us about how overmatched the corners appear to be at times or how inconsistent the pass rush has been or how the defense has played in general, as head coach Chip Kelly suggested Monday. But none of that matters.

The approach of Davis and Kelly and the rest of the 176 men or so on Kelly's staff is all that does.

They get results, raise levels, keep players invested.

They do all this by keeping their minds closed, which in this case is a good thing, an essential thing.

"I think a lot of times you guys are wrong," Kelly said to a pack of reporters who were still trying to process what went down less than 24 hours earlier. "Seriously, that's what I really think. When we start listening to people outside of here, we're going to be in trouble. Then we would be wrong.

"I think those guys have played really, really well."

Hard to argue that now.

Seven days earlier, after nearly blowing a 34-7 lead over the Rams, Kelly and Davis were telling us the same things. But who was listening or believing then?

Their players. That's who.

And it's made all the difference in the world, especially to Fletcher and Williams.

Davis and Kelly had their fingerprints all over Sunday night's shutout.

"We don't pay attention to the heat," Kelly said. "There is no reason to. It doesn't make you a better player. It could make you a worse player, to be honest with you. One thing we try to do is tune that out. As a coaching staff we've been very, very comfortable with Cary and Fletch, and I thought they played very well again.

"The only guys they've got to please are the guys in this building, and I think they're doing a really good job — both those guys — and I'm happy we got both of them."

Davis, in particular, is a pragmatist who understands that because the NFL doesn't allow more than 53 players on any roster, it's best to nurture what you have instead of looking for alternatives after the season gets rolling.

This is what he did last year, transforming inherited personnel brought in to fit the 4-3 alignment the Eagles used to run into a more-than-competent 3-4 group.

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