Eagles Outlook: Situational awareness will be the key to Sean Desai’s defensive scheme
Whenever the Eagles get a new head coach or coordinator, it’s impossible to gauge exactly what the new schemes will look like until we actually see them in action.
Philadelphia had to replace both of their coordinators from last season, OC Shane Steichen and DC Jonathan Gannon. Offensively, there should be a certain level of continuity there with former QB coach Brian Johnson taking the reins at offensive coordinator. He spent the past two years learning under Steichen and already has a long history working with QB Jalen Hurts. The Eagles shouldn’t miss a step on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, Sean Desai was brought in from Seattle to takeover from the recently departed Jonathan Gannon. While Desai’s defensive philosophy should look similar to Gannon’s – based on the coaching tree both coordinators spawn from – this newlook Eagles defense will prioritize one thing over all else: Situational awareness.
Newly acquired linebacker Nicholas Morrow emphasized this point when speaking with the media this week at OTAs.
“Since I’ve been here for six weeks … this is the most that I’ve learned situationally,” Morrow said. “We’ve really emphasized situation awareness, and this is probably the most I’ve learned in my seven-year career.”
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For all intents and purposes, situational defense was Gannon’s biggest Achilles heel as the Eagles DC. A consistent lack of in-game adjustments always seemed to bite the Eagles when it mattered most. Super Bowl 57 is the first example that comes to mind, and it’s probably the most egregious.
Kansas City scored two late touchdowns to solidify their victory over Philadelphia, and both scoring plays were damn near identical.
The worst part, Gannon was duped on something he should’ve learned from all the way back in Week 4 of the 2022 season, when Doug Pederson ran a similar play near the goal line against him.
The Ringer’s Benjamin Solak does a great job of breaking it all down here:
Obviously, situational awareness would have helped the Eagles in Super Bowl 57. Gannon apparently isn’t a huge fan of it, but luckily for us, Desai is.
“I don’t want to give [away] too much, but in the team meetings, constantly going over every time we have a team meeting, we bring up situations,” Morrow continued. “And everyone’s up. Anyone could be asked a question, and everyone’s responsible to understand what’s going on in a game.”
Being the Eagles defensive coordinator is arguably the most thankless job in the NFL. That sounds hyperbolic, I know, but in my 27 years of existence, I’ve seen numerous Eagles’ DCs become the scapegoat for the team’s woes.
Not trying to be a Gannon defender here, but the Eagles defense was excellent for most of the 2022 season. But since his unit stunk it up in the Super Bowl, he’s seen as public enemy number one.
Given the fact that the Eagles are clearly in win-now mode, Desai’s grace period with the city won’t be very long – if he’s even given one at all. His philosophy of constantly being aware of the situation and adjusting accordingly sounds great on paper. Let’s just hope it pays off come September.
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Mandatory Credit: NBC Sports Philadelphia