Jordan Davis hears what people are saying.
He’s well aware there are Eagles fans out there who think he should be starting every game, playing every snap, making every play.
He’s a first-round pick from Georgia. He’s supposed to be Superman.
He can’t do anything to change that narrative except play as hard as he can when he gets the chance.
And that’s exactly what he’s been doing.
“There’s always room for improvement, and I expect more from myself,” Davis said. “But I’ve had a pretty good year for a rookie. Just soaking it all in and learning as much as I can.”
Davis by all accounts is having a fine rookie season. He’s the Eagles’ third-highest-ranked interior lineman this year according to Pro Football Focus, behind Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams and ahead of Fletcher Cox, Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.
Of 16 NFL rookie interior linemen who’ve played at least 50 defensive snaps, his 71.9 PFF grade this year is by far the highest.
Yet there’s a sense out there he should be doing more.
“People want to say, ‘He should have played more and stuff like that,’ but at the end of the day, I don’t make those decisions and obviously the way we’re playing, the guys we have, they’re amazing, they’re great, and I don’t mind taking a back seat to them because at the end of the day we’re all good,” Davis said Thursday.
“To see them play, to see them ball, it gives you more inspiration and just to be in that room with them, with that experience? It makes me a lot better because they want to be the best too.”
Despite missing four games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury and part of a fifth with a concussion, he’s playing about 17.5 snaps per game.
Considering the talent Howie Roseman has piled up on the interior of the defensive line, that’s a healthy number. Heck, other than Hargrave, none of the defensive tackles plays a ton. This is a tremendous rotation, it works, it keeps everybody fresh, and it happened to help the Eagles get to a Super Bowl.
“One thing I learned at Georgia, they’re going to put the best people on the field because they’re in the business of winning,” Davis said. “So if you’re not getting any playing time, you don’t look at it like, ‘I’m not getting any playing time,’ you look at it like, ‘What can I do better? What can I do to contribute so I can get more playing time?
“Just making sure when your number’s called you're ready and that’s something I take pride in, because everybody will look at it as, ‘Oh, he’s not playing,’ ‘He’s a first-rounder,’ but I look at it like I’m gaining experience and I’m using that experience to sharpen my tools, so when my time does come I’ll be ready, and when we have young D-tackles I’ll be the one to pass down everything I know to them like those guys are now with me.”
The toughest thing for most rookies is adjusting to the length of the season. And when your team is in the Super Bowl, the season is almost twice as long as a college season. Counting preseason, we’re now in Week 26.
“It’s crazy, but it’s definitely an eye-opener,” Davis said. “And I think it’s worse because I didn’t have a true offseason last year, training for the combine and then the draft and then you’re at OTAs.
“Just keep doing the routine, staying on top of everything. Just not thinking about it. When you have a day off, use it as a day off. Do body maintenance but mentally get your mind clear and use it as a day off because when you think about football too much it becomes your whole life and then you neglect some of the other things that are important.”
This year may have been challenging in some ways, but the 23-year-old Davis said he’s having a blast and couldn’t be more excited to be headed to Arizona for Super Bowl LVII against the Chiefs a week from Sunday.
“It’s been great,” he said. “Lot of new experiences, so just taking every day at face value and going into next year I’ll know what to expect, know what I need to get better at. You go in blind your rookie year, but I’m satisfied. We’re going to the Super Bowl, so what else could you ask for?”
It’s been quite a run for Davis and Nakobe Dean, who starred on the Georgia Bulldogs team that went 14-1 and beat top-ranked Alabama 33-18 in the College Football Championship in Indianapolis.
So those guys are 30-4 with two trips to a championship game since last season began.
How many guys have won 30 games in a two-year span?
“Feeling extremely blessed,” Davis said. “I was just talking to Nakobe, we just came off a championship run and going back into a championship run. It just means a lot. No matter what, you can feel the standard at Georgia, you can feel the standard here.
“Championship teams operate the same way and this is probably the best place Nakobe and I could have gone. Some of the other rookies didn’t have the same success in college as we did, but we’re all going to the Super Bowl and that’s something to be proud of and something to be excited for. Something to mark down on your calendar.
“Some guys go their whole careers and don’t even make the playoffs. It’s just an amazing feeling, and I’m grateful for it. And hopefully we get back to a lot more after this one.”
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