Was the writing always on the wall for Eagles DC Sean Desai?

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CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 21: Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai looks on during a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills on August 21, 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

When the Eagles hired Sean Desai on Feb 27th, 2023, they waited for weeks before they officially announced the hire and he didn’t have his first press conference until Thursday, May 9.

That was weird.

During the 2023 NFL Draft, out of nowhere, it was announced that the Eagles received the 66th overall pick from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for the 94th pick this year and a fifth-rounder next year for impermissible contact with then Eagles DC Jon Gannon in January during the Cardinals search for a Head Coach.


That was weird too.

The Eagles seemingly wanted to hire Vic Fangio, but whatever went on with the Cardinals and the Jonathan Gannon debacle caused that ship to sail and Fangio instead became the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins.

Philadelphia then pivoted and signed a Fangio disciple, Sean Desai, despite having an inhouse option that many thought was being groomed for the DC position and the players loved, Dennard Wilson. 

Interestingly, they did not hire Wilson and he left to be the defensive backs coach in Baltimore, the same job he did in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Kevin Byard (31) is congratulated by teammates after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

So the Eagles did want Desai as their coach, right? Well, maybe?

A complicated tenure

Sean has never seemed like their first choice. It has always felt like the Bridesmaid and not the Bride (Fangio). They didn’t want to show him off immediately, and it always appeared as if there was something a little off.

Then another thing happened, that was weird.

On April 20th, Nick Sirianni stated they looking into hiring former DC and Head Coach Matt Patricia. 

“We’re trending in that direction.”

He was hired to be a “Senior Defensive Assistant” 24 hours later.

Sirianni stated that this was a good thing and they wanted 

“as many good minds as we can get in the building”

But it always seemed as if he was more. Nick has been effusive with praise for Patricia since he arrived.

“He’s been an excellent resource for me,” the coach told SI.com’s Eagles Today when discussing Patricia. “You bring guys like that in to do just that, be resources for you, be resources for the defensive coordinator.”

It didn’t stop there.

“(Patricia) comes from a great coaching tree, I’ve always been fascinated by that coaching tree, and how I can pick the brain of that so I can continue to get better as a coach and ultimately us get better as a team.”

Or even there.

“It’s nice to have a former head coach on the staff that I’m able to bounce some different things off of. Like I said, awesome, awesome resource.”

So, while Sean has been the DC all season, there has always been a feeling that something was off.

Desai was riding high a month earlier when his defense shut down the high-scoring number-one offense in the league just a month ago. He devised another brilliant game plan a few weeks later that caused the Kansas Chiefs to struggle. But over the last 3 weeks, he and the defense lost their way, and the rails came off.

49ers vs eagles
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham celebrates after a sack against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

His forte had been to limit big plays, which they have not been able to do since. The Eagles have allowed 33 or more points in 3 straight games, a first in the NFL in the Super Bowl era. As bad as the points were they were not even competitive against the Niners or Cowboys and as a result, he was let go of his duty to call plays.

The Eagles had a secret love affair

Even that was weird. It was not announced until after multiple media outlets broke the news that Sean Desai was no longer the Eagles DC. 

Philadelphia stated Desai is still their DC but Matt Patricia will call plays and be on the field instead of Desai. 

How else would Desai’s departure come about?

Yeah, just weird.

Whether it was Gannon and his untimely leaving causing them to miss on Fangio, a lack of faith in Desai from the beginning, seeing Dennard Wilson succeed once again with defensive backs and the passing defense in Baltimore(2nd pass defense in the league), and realizing this issue is a result of poor coaching coupled with the poor play over the last 2 weeks despite having a team at 10–3 will not be known for some time.

Matt Patricia has 4 regular season games left and a post-season run to cement himself as the Eagles DC in 2024. If he can right the ship, the Eagles Super Bowl hopes could still be alive and well despite this unorthodox change.

Last year the Birds had very little adversity to overcome, and there was probably going to be an overreaction to any they faced this season with expectations so high. 

Even still, this all just seems weird.

As always, thank you for reading.

Follow me on X @PHLEagleNews 

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire