Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles were a team who were successful on Offense and struggled mightily on Defense in certain areas. This season however, the roles have been reversed with the Eagles safeties ranking in the top 5 in the league and the team forcing a turnover on 21% of drives. But the success of this team won’t be down to Chip Kelly..it will be down to defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
Now before you all pick up your pitchforks, just hear me out. Chip Kelly has dug himself a very very deep hole. So much Offensive talent has been offloaded in the last three years and replaced with “Chip Kelly guys” that this entire Offense has become a team that on paper should be performing week in and week out..but it’s not.
There are a lot of contributing factors. From the Offensive line to the running game deficiencies, the countless drops to an inconsistent Quarterback. Kelly has essentially ripped out the core of the Offense and replaced it with new shiny pieces that are yet to click. Because like having a heart transplant, it is by no means an easy process and it takes a while for the new heart to adapt to an entirely new body. Sometimes it can take a couple of years for all complications to completely disappear.
The thing is that Eagles fans are not happy…at all. Some are still blaming Bradford for the failures and woes this team has faced while others are placing the blame fully on the Head Coach and they’d be right. It’s Chip Kelly’s responsibility to iron out these errors or to see what isn’t working and change it. But by that logic, surely it’s his name that should go up in lights if the team make the playoffs?
No. Because while the Offense has been struggling to play all four quarters to a suitable standard, it’s the Defense that’s had to step up and pretty much save this team. The responsibility on that front falls to Billy Davis who has completely renovated the Secondary after last years woes…and that’s the difference.
Chip Kelly took an Offense that was producing and tried to improve it. Davis took a failing unit, changed the core and created an elite Secondary that has bailed the team out countless times this season. We could talk all day about stats but the bottom line is this. The reason this team have three wins falls completely down to a Defense who have had to play up to 40 minutes per game, been put under severe pressure in their first season as a cohesive unit and placed in situations that could decide the game and yet still come up large.
If Chip Kelly is able to right the wrongs with this Offense, he hasn’t succeeded. He has merely dug himself out of a very dark hole and helped balance the scales. It’s the Defense who are creating turnovers and putting the Eagles in scoring range, it’s the Defense who are forcing Superbowl winning Quarterbacks into poor throws and short drives. It’s the Defense who are shutting down some of the fastest receivers in the game and it’s the Defense who are the reason the Eagles are still in games.
Could you imagine if last years secondary played 40 minutes against Washington? Or if the likes of Bradley Fletcher lined up against Odell or Brandin Cooks? Billy Davis has done a spectacular job in restoring a fallen Defense to its former glory. What if the Eagles were still giving up X-Plays constantly and were unable to stop the run game? A sloppy Offense combined with an inconsistent Defense would result in the team going from promising to worryingly underperforming in just one game. Every single player on the Eagles Defense has made an impact of some kind and have been the ones putting the entire team on their backs, carrying them through some tough games.
We all want to see a reduction in drops and we all want to see Bradford get going. But when he does all that’s going to happen is we have a team who can perhaps salvage the same sort of numbers they posted last year. That’s not progress or success, it’s rescuing a disaster. Billy Davis and his exceptional have been the glue holding this team together and I think far too much attention is being placed on the Offense dictating the success of this team. It may not be by choice, but the Eagles are rapidly becoming a Defensive team and because of that, any success for this season at least has to be credited to Billy Davis.