That was the message second-year Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis delivered in advance of his reunion with Jalen Carter, the No. 9 overall pick in April’s draft.
The two potential stars on the defensive front became fast friends at the University of Georgia. In fact, it was much more than that, according to Davis, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2022 draft.
“That’s my brother,” Davis said. “It’s not like a mentor-mentee role, but it is more like a brotherhood. I can’t really explain it.
“He’s going to pull whatever he needs out of me, and whatever I need, I’m going to pull it out of him. He knows that. He knows what to expect from me, and I know what to expect from him.”
That familiarity between two of the more gifted players at their positions could be a valuable tool for new defensive coordinator Sean Desai if used correctly.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s get freaky,” Davis said. “If I want to jab inside, then make sure you cover me. Just stuff like that. He had three-plus years of experience with that at Georgia, so I could look at him a certain kind of way he gets the message.”
That looks good on paper but mention the word freelancing to the average DC in the NFL and he’s likely to pull out the Tums from a desk drawer. Former’s Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, now the defensive chief in Cleveland, stressed discipline on the pass rush so much that he might have greeted Davis on his way off the podium to say ‘settle down big fella'”
Veteran Pro Bowl CB Darius Slay was made aware of the comments and playfully sent a similar message to Davis.
Aww shit… let me go talk to them boys now 🤦🏾♂️😂 bad for the team!!! https://t.co/NXDrtEnGhY
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) June 2, 2023
In the end, this was just a young man speaking extemporaneously and going a little bit too far. Interior defensive line coach Tracy Rocker has certainly already explained to Davis just how important working in concert is for what is arguably the best defensive line in football. Getting freaky within the confines of your scheme and job description is fair game but doesn’t sound as good to the fans.
Davis came in last season with the kind of expectations that matched his 6-foot-6, 336-pound frame but finished with just 18 tackles — one for loss — over 13 games in what was an esoteric role designed to tie up blockers so others could make plays. Things were actually rending nicely before Davis suffered a high-ankle sprain against Pittsburgh on Oct. 30 and was forced to miss four games.
When fellow run-stopping DT Marlon Tuipulotu went down with a knee injury and practic-squad elevation Marvin Wilson failed to prove to be stout enough in the middle, GM Howie Roseman called in ring-chasing reinforcements Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.
By the time Davis was ready to return the Eagles were in full Super Bowl mode and stuck with the veterans en route. Pre-injury Davis’ time topped out at 42 percent of the defensive snaps with the low-water mark (taking the Pittsburgh game out due to the injury) being 31 percent vs. Washington. After Joseph arrived the high point was 26 percent against New Orleans and the low was 11 percent in his return from the ankle injury against Tennessee.
Davis’ playing time increased in the playoffs against the New York Giants (37 percent) and San Francisco (35 percent) but that was skewed by the blowout nature of those games. In Super Bowl LVII against Kansas City, a tight-knit affair, the number was back at 18 percent.
With Carter, edge rusher Nolan Smith, and cornerback Kelee Ringo all arriving from the Georgia defense that won back-to-back national championships rejoining David and Mike linebacker Nakobe Dean, who played just 34 snaps as a rookie, in Philadelphia, Davis is not going to hesitate when offering advice.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” he said. “It’s hard.”
There will be hiccups along the way but the optimism isn’t unrealistic.
“Knowing those guys, they came from not one but two national championships, which is the longest season out of college football,” Davis said. “Luckily, I’m not too far removed and understand what it takes. It will be hard for them, but that’s what we’re here for.”
The biggest issues for rookies are often off the field where everyday life can get in the way and that’s where the “brotherhood” comes in.
“They’re in a hotel, which takes a toll on your body because it’s like being trapped, seeing those same four walls,” Davis said. “I go over there and get those boys out anytime I can to show them around the city, showing them all the places I’ve been in this past year and going out to explore more places, it means a lot, and it builds that bond again.”