Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

The Eagles are in the midst of a two-game losing streak that has put their chances of winning the NFC East, and the conference’s No. 1 seed, in serious jeopardy. Philadelphia has surrendered at least 33 points in each of its last three games, and as it seeks to right the ship, is making a major change on the defensive side of the ball.

Per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia has replaced Sean Desai as defensive coordinator, which includes assuming Desai’s play-calling duties (though Desai will remain with the Eagles in a different capacity). As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, a team source has confirmed the move.

Patricia’s lengthy stint as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2012-17 preceded a forgettable tenure as the Lions’ head coach from 2018-20. He rejoined the Pats the following year and was curiously chosen to serve as New England’s offensive play-caller in 2022, a decision that was criticized at the time and that only got worse from there. This offseason, he was a candidate to join Sean Payton‘s first Broncos staff as defensive coordinator, though he eventually wound up in Philadelphia after Denver went in a different direction.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of, Patricia, despite his official title of senior defensive assistant, has served as a consultant for all three phases of the Eagles’ operation this year, and he has earned the respect of the players. By contrast, Brooks Kubena of The Athletic reported just yesterday that safety Kevin Byard had persuaded Desai to allow the secondary to handle its scouting report of the Seahawks, the club’s upcoming opponent.

Desai was the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2021, and Chicago finished that season sixth in terms of total defense, though its points-per-game and defensive DVOA rankings were not as impressive. When head coach Matt Nagy was let go at the end of the 2021 season, his defensive-minded replacement, Matt Eberflus, elected not to retain Desai, who subsequently became associate head coach and defensive assistant for the Seahawks.

Still, Desai’s one season of relative success as a defensive coordinator and his long track record as a defensive assistant at the collegiate and NFL levels made him a popular DC target in the 2023 hiring cycle, and he took interviews with five different clubs. He ultimately chose the Eagles and became the replacement for Jonathan Gannon, who left Philadelphia to take the Cardinals’ head coaching gig.

Unfortunately for Desai, the Eagles presently rank in the bottom 10 in terms of both total defense and points-per-game after finishing in the top 10 in both categories in 2022 (Philadelphia surrendered the second-fewest yards per game in 2022). While none of Patricia’s Detroit defenses were successful, and while Bill Belichick had a major role in the quality New England defenses that Patricia coordinated, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni felt a change was in order.

And Sirianni is no stranger to such a move (although he did tell reporters at the beginning of this week that no coaching changes were on the horizon, as McLane observes). During Sirianni’s first season as Philadelphia’s HC in 2021, he ceded offensive play-calling duties to then-offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, which triggered dramatic improvements from quarterback Jalen Hurts and the offense as a whole.

Patricia will have a chance to engineer a similar turnaround beginning Monday night when the Eagles take on a Seattle club that may be without QB1 Geno Smith. Philadelphia faces the Giants twice and the Cardinals to close out the season, and those teams have fielded two of the league’s worst offenses in 2023.

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