Veteran defensive coach Billy Davis, who has had stints coaching with the Steelers, Panthers, Packers, Falcons, Giants, 49ers, Cards and Browns twice, will be the Eagles’ next defensive coordinator, two league sources told CSNPhilly.com Thursday morning.
Davis most recently coached on Pat Shurmur’s staff with the Browns the last two years. Shurmur is also joining Chip Kelly’s new staff with the Eagles, sources have said.
The Eagles have not commented on or confirmed any coaching hires since Kelly was named head coach, and there was no comment on CSNPhilly's report regarding Davis.
In four years as an NFL defensive coordinator – two with the 49ers and two with the Cards – Davis has never had a unit ranked higher than 14th in points allowed or 20th in yards allowed.
Davis’s father, Bill Davis, was a front-office executive in the Eagles' personnel department in 1988 and 1989, but resigned after losing a power struggle with head coach Buddy Ryan.
Davis, who has operated both the 3-4 and 4-3 along the way in his coaching career, becomes the Eagles’ fifth defensive coordinator in six years. Sean McDermott took over after the tragic death of Jim Johnson in 2009. He was replaced by Juan Castillo after the 2010 season, and Castillo was replaced six games into last year by Todd Bowles.
The addition of Davis ends a long, mysterious process that saw the Eagles associated with Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and also linked with Ravens linebackers coach Ted Monachino and 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatel. However, according to a league source the Eagles never requested permission to speak with Monachino.
Kelly, hired on Jan. 16, has put together most of his coaching staff, and although the Eagles haven’t confirmed anything, league sources have confirmed the addition of several defensive coaches to his staff.
But it took him three weeks to hire a defensive coordinator, even though Davis has been available since Shurmur was fired on Dec. 31.
Davis interviewed with the Eagles on Jan. 28. One day later, he interviewed for the Jets linebacker position, even though Jets coach Rex Ryan is the son of Buddy Ryan, who Davis had a major conflict with when both were with the Eagles in the late 1980s.
During their brief time working together, Ryan was once asked at a press conference about Davis's involvement in signing a young player.
Ryan snapped: "Bill Davis has a job and he's got a title, but that's about it. I pick the players around here."
Davis resigned soon after.
Although the Eagles may have interviewed other candidates for the defensive coordinator job, Davis is the only candidate that league sources ever confirmed that they spoke formally with.
Davis, 47, is a native of Youngstown, Ohio, and was an Eagles ball boy as a kid when Dick Vermeil was head coach. He played quarterback and receiver at Cincinnati in the late 1980s and began his coaching career at Michigan State after college.
Bill Cowher gave him his first NFL job in 1992, moving him from offense to defensive quality control, and in 1995, he joined Dom Capers with the expansion Carolina Panthers as linebackers coach.
After four years in Carolina, one year under Chris Palmer in Cleveland and one under Mike Sherman in Green Bay, Davis went to Atlanta under Dan Reeves, where he spent three years. He spent 2004 with the Giants under Tom Coughlin and then got his first coordinator job, under Mike Nolan with the 49ers in 2005.
After San Francisco, Davis coached for four years in Arizona under Ken Whisenhunt. He was linebackers coach for two years and defensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010. He coached linebackers for Shurmur in 2011 and 2012.
In Davis’s two years running the defense in San Francisco, the 49ers were ranked 30th and 32nd in points allowed and 32nd and 26nd in yards allowed (they were 32nd and 24th the year before he got there).
In his two years as Cards’ defensive coordinator, Arizona ranked 14th and 30th in points allowed and 20th and 29th in yards allowed.