INDIANAPOLIS — The Eagles have found their next defensive coordinator.
They hire Seahawks associate head coach and defensive assistant Sean Desai to replace Jonathan Gannon, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll confirmed to Seattle reporters at the combine.
The Eagles have yet to confirm the hiring.
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But it sounds like the Eagles have indeed found the coach to replace Jonathan Gannon, who left this offseason to take the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals.
Desai, 39, spent just one season with the Seahawks under Carroll. Prior to the 2022 season, Desai spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, most recently as the defensive coordinator for the 2021 season.
“We had a great time. He’s really, really a brilliant football guy,” Carroll said earlier Tuesday. “The background and the information that he has, the access to information is really special. He helped us a ton getting going and doing a one-year transition (the Seahawks changed defensive coordinators in 2022).
“We got along well. It was a good challenge for me. (Desai) comes from a different football background, so it was fun to butt heads and always figure it out.”
For several seasons in Chicago, Desai worked under longtime defensive coach Vic Fangio. The Eagles used many of Fangio’s concepts in their defense under Gannon, and Fangio even served as a consultant before Super Bowl LVII.
In his end-of-season press conference, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni explained his philosophy on defense.
“You think you’re going to see that I really believe in, you know this, that I really believe in turnover differential, I really believe in explosive play. “It’s that kind of thing about that defense that I like,” Sirianni said.
“Then there are going to be things situationally that are not negotiable. I guess, to put it mildly, if it’s third and long, if it’s tight red zone, if it’s two-minute, endgame, if it’s four-minute defense backed up.
“Obviously I’m going to have things that I’m going to require the next defensive coordinator to do. But I also know that I’m hiring somebody to do their job to the best of their ability, and that’s why I’m hiring them.”
The Eagles have now filled both of their vacant coordinator positions. They promoted quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson to offensive coordinator to replace Shane Steichen, who is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
But hiring Johnson always seemed extremely likely. The search for a defensive coordinator was a little more involved. The Eagles clearly wanted to cast a wide net in their search for Gannon’s replacement. They interviewed several candidates with different backgrounds and philosophies before finally landing on Desai. The Eagles interviewed him in person in Philadelphia on Monday before flying to Indianapolis.
The Eagles statistically had the second best defense in the NFL in 2022, giving up just 301.5 yards per game in the regular season. The defense also did a good job in the first two playoff games before facing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in their Super Bowl LVII loss.
There’s a good chance the Eagles defense takes a step back in 2023 due to personnel. There are several key pending free agents from that side of the football, including Javon Hargrave, CJ Gardner-Johnson, Fletcher Cox, James Bradberry, Brandon Graham, TJ Edwards, Kyzir White and Marcus Epps.