Will the Eagles defense in 2024 be a huge improvement in comparison to last year’s group?

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reacts to a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The defensive struggles of the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles were far-reaching throughout the organization.  

First, they hired what seemed to be Plan B after the Jonathan Gannon / Vic Fangio debacle left them without a defensive coordinator. The front office and Nick Sirianni pivoted to a Vic Fangio disciple in Sean Desai. Next, they hedge their risk by hiring Matt Patricia as Senior Defensive Assistant. The hire seemed to result in being awkward for more than just Big Play Slay, it likely created more distractions than it did protection. 

Sean Desai seemed uncomfortable with the arrangement. He appeared to be looking over his shoulder awaiting the rug to be pulled from underneath his feet after every defensive struggle. And on Dec 18th when the Eagles played in Seattle, it did. 

Matt Patricia was given playcalling duties, even though Sean Desai retained the title of DC. Desai was also moved to the booth instead of remaining on the field. 

The Eagles defense became objectively worse under Patrica and at season’s end, he and Desai were both let go. 

A couple of standouts for the defense on the field would be moving on as well.

The Players

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 12: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (24) warms up during Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles on February 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

To be fair to some of the coaching staff, the linebacking core may have struggled with whoever they had last season, but the DB group went from 1st in the NFL to 31st with largely the same players. James Bradberry took a step back, and many other positions were not immune to the decline in production. 

A defensive line that dominated during their Super Bowl appearing season in 2022 struggled to get sacks. The team went from 70 in 2022 to 43 in 2023. 

The lack of production angered more than just the fan base. 

Captain Brandon Graham didn’t mince words describing the defensive failures from a season ago

“I really think that last year, we just didn’t, that’s what we didn’t have. We didn’t have all the right coaches in the right position, I would say.”

The Eagles moved on from one of their pass rushers, Haason Reddick, and sustained another loss when defense lineman Fletcher Cox retired during the off-season. 

The front office had a plan to get younger on the field, and wiser on the sideline. 

A New Era

DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 19: Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio walks along the sideline during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals at Empower Field at Mile High on December 19, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles not only revamped the defense with some new players but also with coaches.

In addition to bringing in a new, experienced, defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio, the Eagles addressed the position coaches with that same philosophy. 

The Eagles brought in Bobby King, who has 15 years in the NFL 14 of them coaching LBers. In addition, they added Christian Parker and Roy Anderson, bringing 20-plus years of NFL coaching to the defensive back room. The Birds also added Clint Hurtt on the defensive line, who has coached in the NFL since 2014, and brought Joe Kasper back after a one-year hiatus of coaching in Miami. 

New Defensive Coaches:

Vic Fangio, Defensive Coordinator

Bobby King, Inside Linebackers

Christian Parker, Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs

Roy Anderson, Cornerbacks

Clint Hurtt, Senior Defensive Assistant/Defensive Line

Joe Kasper, Safeties

With all the experience comes a wealth of knowledge and new philosophies the players will be asked to buy into. 

So far, so good

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson, left, catches a touchdown pass in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo (22) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

The results of these changes will be known once they play the games, but if first impressions are an indicator, the players are embracing change and working hard to be better defensively in 2024.

Second-year cornerback Kelee Ringo is all in thus far and has a good impression of the new scheme and coaching style Fangio has brought to Philly. 

“He’s an old-school coach. And I definitely like that about him. He’s got his strategies, his scheme, the way he coaches, and I like that he sticks to that. All of us are ready to buy into that.”

Third-year defensive lineman Jordan Davis described the difference between Vic Fangio and the Eagle’s previous defensive coordinator as a welcomed change

“No bull —. There’s no bull —. I hope y’all can bleep that out. It’s really no B.S. with him. It’s straight ball.” 

Moving on after a season full of distractions to one with a clean slate and an attitude of no excuses should make it sunny in Philadelphia again. 

As always, thank you for reading

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AP Photo/Matt Slocum