On Monday, we heard Chip Kelly's affirmation of faith in Bradley Fletcher, the Eagles' embattled cornerback, the day after Tony Romo and Dez Bryant beat Fletcher three times for touchdowns in a 38-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys that put the Eagles' playoff hopes on life support.
Tuesday, it was coordinator Bill Davis's turn to stand up for Fletcher and to fervently attest to the seaworthiness of a rapidly sinking ship.
"No, I did not," Davis said, when asked if he considered replacing Fletcher, the NFL's most-targeted corner. "I believe in our guys. I believe in the players we have out there. If you look at the plays he got beat on, he didn't make the play at the ball" but otherwise played the proper technique. "The first one he got a bad start, he looked back too early. There are different reasons for every one of them. But no, I did not. At the end of the game, I switched, put Cary (Williams on Bryant) but I didn't take (Fletcher) out of the game.
"We've come a long way, it's been a long season, there's been ups and downs, and part of it is hanging together as a team and fighting through slumps. Every player has slumps and runs where they're really playing well, and I think part of being a team --- there's only four corners that are active at the time, Nolan (Carroll)'s got a big role in the dime and (Brandon Boykin)'s got a big role in nickel, and once you start making those changes, it trickles out there. If he was completly busting coverages and getting beat and turned around (it would be time to make a move), but it wasn't the case. There was some damn good throws being made on him. Yeah, there was three of them, and that's a lot. That's why I made the switch to match up the others, but I have faith in Fletch, even though he didn't have a good day."
Davis said he had double coverage on Bryant "almost half the snaps," and noted that the Cowboys were killing the Eagles early with tight end Jason Witten. "You can't do it all on the same call," he said. "You have to choose where you're giving help to, whether it's help to the rush, pressure on the quarterback, or it's help on doubling a receiver or bracketing a receiver. Give Romo credit, he really did, when (Bryant) was doubled he went to his other receivers. When we had the help or the pressure somewhere else, he went out to Dez."
Like Kelly the day before, Davis said Romo was the difference between the Eagles' blowout win on Thanksgiving and Sunday's devastating defeat.
"The throws on Thanksgiving were underthrown and bad," Davis said. "We were coming back and making plays. The throws the other night were on the money. They were right where they need to be."
Davis said he doesn't think he'll have outside linebacker Trent Cole Saturday at Washington, pending decisions that need to be made by Cole's camp. That means Cole is deciding whether to have surgery on the hand he broke against Dallas. A source close to the situation said Monday that there would be substantial risk of infection with a fresh incision. Davis said he expects Cole will play in the finale against the Giants.
Brandon Graham will start in Cole's place, Davis said, with first-round rookie Marcus Smith yo-yoing back to outside linebacker.