For the Philadelphia front office, the standard is now confirmed as Super Bowl-or-bust after Sean Desai was unceremoniously dumped as the 10-3 Eagles’ defensive play-caller on Sunday, days after a vote of confidence, in favor of senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia.
On paper, Desai will remain the defensive coordinator in name only heading into Week 15 at Seattle and cross paths with Patricia, the long-time consigliere for Bill Belichick and former head coach in Detroit, en route to the coaching box.
Titles aside, Patricia will be on the field and calling the defense as the de facto DC, answering only to head coach Nick Sirianni.
The move comes after two consecutive ugly losses to the perceived top competition in the NFC – San Francisco and Dallas – by a combined 75-32 margin, the lowest point of the Sirianni era save for his 2-5 start as a rookie head coach.
Despite failing the situational demands of Sirianni and captaining a defense that was last in the NFL on third downs and a nearly as dismal 30th in red-zone defense, Sirianni seemed to double down on Desai on Tuesday of last week.
“I feel good with the people that we have in this building,” the coach said. “We’re 10-3. We’re in control of our own destiny, and we’re going to keep rolling and finding answers with the people that we have.”
Desai then held his normal press briefing on Wednesday with all parties acting like it was business as usual.
“We have not been able to get off the field when we need to get off the field,” Desai said Wednesday. “Yeah, in third down and situational football we’ve got to be better. … Those have been our bugaboos. Not going to lie to you. That’s been our Achilles’ heel right now.”
The details of this 180 will be unveiled in time and the suspects are many when conjuring up the Machiavellian aspects of what went on.
Sirianni is so immersed in competitive advantage that lying to reporters’ – and by extension, fans’ – faces can’t be dismissed nor should overreaching by owner Jeffrey Lurie or GM Howie Roseman, something Doug Pederson and former assistants like Mike Groh, Press Taylor and Carson Walch could be granted immunity to attest to.
On the other hand, the method to this perceived madness is that it’s baked in that the defense will be better over the final month because of a softer schedule and the context of San Francisco, Dallas and Buffalo vs. bottom-feeders featuring Tommy Cutlets and perhaps Drew Lock will get lost in the translation giving the Eagles a perceived boost heading to the postseason.
From there, a run toward Las Vegas will determine whether more scapegoating is needed for failing to reach the standard.