Eagles defensive coordinator says unit is growing week to week



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PHILADELPHIA — The keyword for Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis is fix.

When the pass rush isn't getting to the opposing quarterback, Davis says, "we'll get that fixed."

If his cornerbacks are giving up chunks of yardage in coverage, Davis says, "that can be fixed."

So what did Davis say after his defense comes off its best game since he became coordinator, a 27-0 shutout of the Giants in which Giants quarterbacks Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib were sacked eight times?

"I think we're growing," Davis said Wednesday as he prepared his unit to face the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday in Arizona. "No matter if we have a good game, like we did against the Giants, or we struggle for a couple quarters. No matter what, the goal of every defensive team in the league really is, are we getting better? Are we better this week than we were last week?"

The Eagles played their best against the Giants. It was their first shutout since 1996. The most sacks all season. The least amount of net passing yards (168) they allowed all season and the first time they held an opponent under 100 rushing yards (86) in three weeks.

"Now, can we build on what we did?" Davis said. "We still have many mistakes that we need corrected. We still have things that need to get ironed out."

But he says the team grew more confident.

"There is a lot to be said for somebody not stepping out of their little area of what we're asking them to do and trying to make a bigger play," he said. "I think that we learn collectively that if we play together we're pretty good."

Davis, in his second year as Eagles coordinator, saw his unit struggle early last season as he changed the team's defensive scheme. But things improved as the season progressed toward an NFC East title.

This year, the Eagles have had their ups and downs again, with the win over the Giants the highest of the ups. This might just be the defense he envisioned from the start.

"You always look at your personnel first, and the more you get to know your personnel, the more you can do with them," Davis said. "Now that we're a year and a half under our belt, we understand them a lot better. And they understand the scheme a lot better."

He says that gives the team flexibility within that scheme.

"We can tweak things a little bit so those players can do what they do best the most amount of times," he said.

NOTES: The Eagles had everyone at practice Wednesday except backup wide receiver Brad Smith (groin injury). Running back Darren Sproles (knee) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (calf) were both on the field for the second day and both are expected to play Sunday in Arizona. Sproles injured his knee in the team's win over the Giants on Oct. 12. Kendricks has been out since he suffered the calf injury, Sept. 15 against the Colts. .Guard Evan Mathis also practiced for the first time since injuring his knee in the season opener against Jacksonville. Mathis is on injured reserve with the designation to return. He cannot play until the Carolina game, Nov. 10. But Wednesday was the first time he was allowed to practice. After practice, he said he felt no pain in his knee at all.

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