SEATTLE — A major shakeup with the same results.
During last week, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni stripped defensive coordinator Sean Desai of his power and handed over the reins of the defense to Matt Patricia.
And it still didn’t matter.
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The Eagles still lost their third straight game to fall to 10-4 on Monday night. After giving up just three points in the first half, the Eagles’ defense gave up 17 in the second, including a 92-yard game-winning drive to backup Drew Lock, in their 20-17 loss at Lumen Field.
After the Eagles’ third consecutive loss, Sirianni had his first chance to publicly explain the major change at defensive coordinator.
“I made the decision,” Sirianni said. “I did what I thought I needed to do in the best interest of the football team. I didn’t feel like, made some adjustments there, didn’t feel like we were playing well enough and coaching well enough on defense so I made an adjustment. It was my decision and that’s what I did.”
Sirianni said he made the decision in the middle of the week as they really began to game plan for the Seahawks.
While the Eagles didn’t take away Desai’s official title of defensive coordinator, Sirianni confirmed that Patricia now has final say on defense. On Monday night, Patricia was on the field calling plays and Desai was relegated to the booth.
“It’s a collaborative effort on defense,” Sirianni said. “And obviously the final decision are made by Matt right now. But I thought, as disappointed as Sean was, I think he handled himself like a true pro. And we know Sean is still helpful to this football team because he has a bright mind and he can help. As I listened to him on defense today, they were communicating back and forth very similar to the way Matt and Sean communicated with the roles reversed.
“Just made an adjustment. I understand there’s going to be scrutiny on it. But I feel like anything I can do in my position to help the team succeed, I’m going to try to do. That’s why we are where we are with that.”
Sirianni on Monday pointed back to the 2021 season when he stripped himself of offensive play-calling and handed it over to former OC Shane Steichen. While these two instances aren’t apples-to-apples, Sirianni’s point is that he won’t avoid a tough coaching decision if he thinks it’ll help.
And there’s no denying the Eagles had been awful on defense. So even though Sirianni isn’t blind to the scrutiny a move like this receives, he did it anyway.
“Just thought an adjustment needed to be made to give the defense a spark and help us play better,” he said.
The Eagles hired Desai this offseason after Jonathan Gannon left for the Cardinals’ head coaching job. Despite some early season success, the Eagles’ defense had been reeling in a major way the last three weeks, which led to the change.
During last week, Sirianni said flatly that he wasn’t making any coaching changes and also expressed his confidence in Desai as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator. After the loss on Monday, Sirianni gave two reasons for that:
1. He didn’t want the public to know about the DC switch before any of his players.
2. (And probably more importantly) He saw the competitive advantage in the Seahawks’ not knowing that Patricia would be calling the defense.
Eagles veteran defensive leader Fletcher Cox said that the players still have Desai’s back but are moving forward with Patricia. The switch of play callers during the season definitely changes some things.
“I think the biggest thing with two different coordinators, there are going to be a couple different things they’re going to approach differently,” Cox said. “They’re going to do different things. As pros, we have to adjust. I think we did a really good job of adjusting and being pros and we have a lot to learn from. We didn’t close the game out today and that’s the most important thing was winning this game today.”