Bill Davis Can Gameplan

Posted: June 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 27 Comments »

One of the problems with Juan Castillo as DC was that he could not put together a special gameplan. When the Eagles dominated, it was due to talent or an inferior opponent. Castillo would mix in a good wrinkle at times. He just didn’t have the background to come up with complex gameplans for specific opponents.

Bill Davis can do this. Back in 2009 the Cardinals were set to face the Vikings, who were 10-1 and a juggernaut. Brett Favre was playing out of his mind. Adrian Peterson was being Adrian Peterson. Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe combined to catch 25 TD passes that year. In 7 of the first 11 games that year, the Vikings scored 30 or more points.

Davis knew he had his work cut out for him. Favre was a veteran QB so you had to get creative if you wanted to confuse him. The best bet with Favre, Davis figured out, was to frustrate him. That meant taking away deep throws.

While that sounds simple enough, also stopping Peterson complicated matters. How do you crowd the line of scrimmage to stop the run and keep DBs back to take away deep balls?

Davis got very situational. When he sensed a run play, he had 8 and even 9 guys in the box. When the Vikings came out in the Ace formation, Davis had 8 guys in the box, but made sure the FS stayed plenty deep. The Vikings tried to run from the spread, but Davis had a wrinkle for that. His nickle corner didn’t line up over the slot receiver. Instead, the NB would take a couple of steps toward the formation and would read run first, then bail into coverage if it was a pass play.

Adrian Peterson finished the game with 19 yards on 13 carries. If he was a normal human being, he wouldn’t have gotten that much. AP used speed and strength to get the 19.

As for the passing game, Davis and the Cardinals gave up lots of short throws. They kept everything in front of them and forced the Vikings to move down the field on sustained drives rather than getting chunk plays.

Davis had one plan for the 1st half and an adjustment for the 2nd. In the opening half the Cardinals were more aggressive, rushing 4 defenders a lot and blitzing more on other plays. In the 2nd half, Davis used more 3-man rushes. He essentially dared Favre to take off running. Favre never did. He held the ball a lot. That led to some sacks. It also led to some forced throws, including 2 INTs.

The key defender was ILB Karlos Dansby. He did a bit of everything. He played the run aggressively. He blitzed at times. He covered RBs in the flat. He covered TEs. Dansby also dropped deep down the middle, forcing Favre to throw over him or in front of him. Dansby picked off a pass while covering in the middle.

The Vikings finished the game with 17 points. They scored an early TD when getting the ball in Cardinals territory after a fumble. They scored a TD late when going against a prevent defense. In between, they got just a FG. The Vikings were just 5 of 15 on 3rd downs. Favre was sacked 3 times and picked off twice.  He finished 30-45-275, but 85 of those yards came on the final drive.

Davis didn’t do anything that was genius. He didn’t re-invent the wheel, so to speak. He simply put together a good gameplan. It fit the skill set of his players and addressed the strengths/weaknesses of the Vikings. This is all you need to do.

There was one creative, oddball element that Davis and the Cardinals coaching staff used in preparation for the game. They had Brian St. Pierre, the QB who played the role of Favre in practice, mimic some of Favre’s mannerisms, including his look-off pump fakes. It is hard to know exactly how much this helped, but it certainly didn’t hurt. I do like the fact that Davis and the coaches were looking for any angle that could help the players. Little things like that can sometimes mean a lot.

The 2013 Eagles defense won’t succeed or fail because of Bill Davis so much as the players, but he will have a major impact based on whether he’s able to put together good gameplans and call the right plays. With smart veteran assistants around him and some talented pieces in place, I’m looking forward to see what Davis can do.

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  • Anders

    Bill Davis, is also able to communicate his idea to the players. It seemed that Castillo had a hard time doing that.
    I think Davis will be a fine DC for us. It might take is 2-3 years to fully implement and get the player that he wants.

    • Iskar36

      The question really becomes, is his ability to communicate his ideas to the players something he has developed since being the DC of the Cardinals, or did he already have that abilty then? If it is the latter, considering that defense ultimately failed, you have to figure out what caused the failure and whether or not Davis has managed to fix that issue.

      As interesting of an article this piece is, in some ways, it is a bit of a cherry picked example. I don’t think Tommy is ignoring that point, I think the point he is making is that Davis has shown the ability to game plan in certain cases, and the question becomes can he do that on a consistent basis. Still, we have yet to see Davis accomplish that on any kind of sustained level.

      • Anders

        He had an okay defense in 2009 when he still had Dansby and Rolle, but after he lost both in 2010, his defense fell apart as the whole scheme was based on them and the other players wasnt that good outside of those two and Wilson

      • TommyLawlor

        It was totally cherry-picked.

        The point is that he can do it. Never said he could do it on a weekly basis or that he was a defensive genius. You don’t have his track record if you are some kind of a guru.

        There are plenty of games where his defense got lit up. We’ve discussed his stats and issues quite a bit. I’m not trying to erase that. Just wanted to point out that he can build a good gameplan, which is something Castillo couldn’t.

        I do think this is the most favorable situation Davis has worked in. Does that mean he’ll deliver the best results of his career? I can only hope so.

        • Iskar36

          That was completely understood. Hopefully that was clear in my post that I thought your point was that he is capable of gameplanning rather than he is a great gameplanner.

          I’d be curious to hear your logic on why this is the most favorable situation Davis has worked in. I have no idea what the situations were like in Arizona or the 49ers, but at least for the Eagles, he is taking a defense that has run a 4-3 and turning it into a 3-4. Outside of potentially Cox, he doesn’t really have a ton of special talent to work with. Finally, we are a defense that ranked 29th in terms of points allowed last year.

          • Flyin
          • Iskar36

            Thanks. I forgot about that post.

          • Flyin

            Here’s another older post that has some good nuggets about the D staff and scheme backgrounds.
            http://igglesblitz.com/2013/02/misc-monday-5/

          • D3FB

            I think Graham and Kendricks both have the potential to be very special. DeMeco and Barwin are both above average players. Most likely one of the other young players will step up to become an above average starter. This defense isn’t as far as some people think.

          • GEagle

            don’t forget the big swinging COX of the group

  • shah8

    The defensive meltdown also just had to do with teams discovering that the pass rush can’t get home. The early games, QBs didn’t hold onto the ball. The later games, QBs did. If the Wide 9 actually got to the QBs, the overall scheme could have worked. Like with the offense, relied on too many skilled players playing way too perfect to really work.

    • TommyLawlor

      The defense totally fell apart when Castillo was fired and Bowles tried to make changes on the fly. Up until that point. the Eagles were 3-3 and playing solid defense. They had blown consecutive leads and Reid gambled that Bowles could fix that.

      Oops.

  • Scott J

    Please don’t tell me Davis likes the prevent defense.

    • TommyLawlor

      Up 31-10 with 2 mins left, he did.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      i’m happy if my team can build up a lead enough to even TRY the prevent defense. lol

  • phillychuck

    Did you and Jimmy decide to abandon H2H? I love listening to you guys, so I hope not!

    • Flyin

      JimmyK has been busy accepting awards around the world for his uncharted paint artwork.

    • TommyLawlor

      We were going to record today, but I had the sniffles. Hopefully Monday.

  • Flyin

    Tommy,

    Regarding the Wi-Fi… I hope the Eagles offer streaming enhancements for the fans. Real time streaming of Merrill’s broadcast and game closed circuit. Along with immediate replays

    The main reasoning behind it, I believe, is for all the corporate people..

    • TheRogerPodacter

      that would be pretty cool. i’d imagine that at least some fans already do this, though – just stream the game over 3g/4g instead of wifi. that of course clogs down the cell network and no one gets good quality. if they could do something locally, it could be of great quality! i think that would really enhance the game experience.
      in between plays, what else is there to really do? listen to the guy announce things? “mccoy up the middle. 3 yards.” then silence. it would be great to fill that silence with something meaningful.

  • EaglesHero87

    Always enjoyed reading your posts, Tommy! Sorry I haven’t had the time to post anything lately. I really enjoyed the example you provided in which Davis game-planned and made the adjustments in the game against the Vikings.

    Do you know of any other particular games where Davis put in a poor gameplan in one game, and how he dealt with it? It’s one thing that this guy has proven experience in understanding defensive schemes and principles, but it’s another if he can implement the right plays and executive them.

    • TommyLawlor

      His defenses were highly inconsistent. I’d have to do research to find a game where he screwed up specifically and it wasn’t player related (bad D or good O).

      I stumbled across this game while researching another topic.

  • SteveH

    Love taking away the deep throws against Favre, he is the type that will try and force one eventually, he’s too much of a “gunslinger” not to.

  • Adam

    Hey Tommy, could you see Kendricks eventually filling the Dansby role?

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  • GEagle

    I think this defense is going to surprise us, and I think Davis will endear himself to Philly fans. I’m expecting a good year from the defense

  • GEagle

    LONGEST OF LONGSHOTS: Jarius Byrd and the Bills are allegedly 2million apart on a long perm deal and Jarius is said to skipping their mandatory mini camp. because the bills are historically cheap and act like feeder systems to real teams lol, I’m holding out hope that Howie can make them an enticing offer to get them to consider just cutting ties, and eliminating the headache.
    I don’t expect it to actually work, but I would hope that a GM of a team that has been so weak at safety would ATleast stick his nose in, and try to get the bills thinking…Adding a young stud that will truly lead your secondary would be such a tremendous coup. we burnt them for Peters, they paid us back with Bill..time to swindle them again lol