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How different will the Eagles' defense look under new DC Sean Desai?


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How different will the Eagles' defense look under new DC Sean Desai?


After an extensive search that included Michigan’s Jesse Minter, Georgia’s Glenn Schumann, and NFL assistant coaches Vance Joseph and Chris Shula, the Philadelphia Eagles hired Sean Desai, a 39-year-old Vic Fangio pupil and the first Indian American coordinator in NFL history.

Desai has strong ties to the region and has built a growing reputation over his coaching career — most recently with the Chicago Bears (2021), where he served as defensive coordinator, and the Seattle Seahawks (2022), where he was associate head coach and defensive assistant.

Desai’s defenses are known for two-high safety looks and pre and post-snap disguises meant to confuse the opposing quarterbacks, a system designed to limit explosive plays.

The Eagles will utilize carry-over from Gannon’s system, and they’ll continue the tradition of getting to the quarterback with pass rushers, eliminating the need for heavy blitz packages.

With training camp fast approaching, we’re looking at how Philadelphia’s defense will look under Desai.

Eagles will be physical


Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Desai has said all the right things about his retooled defense being more physical, something that would be a distinct difference from Gannon’s units.

"The one thing that we’ve agreed on and we’ve talked about as a staff and a group is there’s a certain mentality that we want to reflect,” Desai said. "I really believe the city’s teams got to reflect the city, and we’ve got some grit, we’ve got some toughness, we want to be able to impose our will.

"We’re not going to take really anything from anybody.”

This defense will be accountable and they’ll swarm in waves.

losses on defensive side of the football


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of their Super Bowl LVII loss, the Birds suffered several defections from key contributors.

Gone from the defense are Javon Hargrave, T.J. Edwards, Kyzir White, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps — five starters from last year (including both linebackers and safeties).

Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph and Andre Chachere also departed.

New additions


The Eagles quietly added seven players during the first wave of NFL free agency, and while each offers enormous potential, there are concerns as well.

Whether it be injuries, lack of production, or uncertainty about positions, each player enters 2023 with something to prove after only securing one-year deals.

Then the GM went out and added defensive tackle Jalen Carter and edge rusher Nolan Smith in the first round of the draft and landed potential steals in safety Sydney Brown and cornerback Kelee Ringo in the third and the fourth.

Defensive Line


(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Lost: Javon Hargrave (to San Francisco 49ers)

Replacements: Jordan Davis (2022 first-round pick), Fletcher Cox (re-signed), Milton Williams (2021 third-round pick), Jalen Carter (2023 first-round pick)

Hargrave landed a four-year deal with the 49ers worth $21 million per year. Philadelphia already had an internal replacement for Hargrave in Davis, who had 18 tackles in five starts (played 224 snaps in his rookie season).

Philadelphia will employ a five-man front on first downs and obvious rushing situations and could employ Haason Reddick, Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis and Josh Sweat on obvious passing downs.

The Eagles re-signed Fletcher Cox (37 pressures, seven sacks, 14 quarterback hits) for $10 million and return Milton Williams (36 tackles, six quarterback hits, four sacks) — both of which will see a significant increase in playing time in 2023. Jalen Carter offers a dynamic game wrecker, while Brandon Graham and Kentavius Street offer more reinforcements along with Josh Sweat.



(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Lost: T.J. Edwards (to Chicago Bears), Kyzir White (to Arizona Cardinals)
Replacements: Nakobe Dean (2022 third-round pick), Nicholas Morrow (2023 free agent), Christian Elliss (in-season free agent), Shawn Bradley 92021 sixth-round pick), Davion Taylor (2020 third-round pick)

Dean is in line for one of the two linebacker spots after logging 13 tackles in just 34 snaps last season in playing behind Edwards and White. Elliss was the star of OTAs, and Bradley stays on the roster thanks to their performance on special teams in 2022, and both will have an opportunity for an expanded role on the depth chart. The Eagles were high on Davion Taylor over the last two years, but injuries have limited him to just nine games during the previous two seasons (none in 2022).



Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Lost: C.J. Gardner-Johnson (to Detroit Lions), Marcus Epps (to Las Vegas Raiders)
Replacements: Reed Blankenship (2022 undrafted free agent), K’Von Wallace (2020 fourth-round pick) Terrell Edmunds (free agency), Justin Evans (free agency), Sydney Brown (2023 NFL draft).

After losing both starters to free agents deal, Howie Roseman reloaded adding Terrell Edmunds from the Steelers in a move that could prove valuable in key situation.

Philadelphia is high on Reed Blankenship and the former undrafted free agent is a definite Day 1 starter.

The WildCard


(AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)

Nolan Smith is the wildcard in the entire scenario and could establish himself as a Fred Warner style defender in Desai’s scheme.

Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator can employ Smith as a complement to Haason Reddick in Dime, Nickel and obvious passing down situations.

Smith can rush the passer, drop back into coverage, and crash the edge in a 7 or 9 technique.



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