The Eagles are back to work and preparing for a tough challenge this Sunday against the Dolphins. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai spoke to reporters on Tuesday and talked about how they deal with uncertainty in the secondary, his thoughts on the linebacker rotation against the Jets, and how they’re going to game plan for a very fast Miami offense.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On secondary depth and injuries
Desai was asked why Mekhi Garner was put in the game over Kelee Ringo, but the DC said they had invested a little more time and task on the role with Garner, and felt he was more suited for that situation.
“And, [Garner] did a good job. He got his feet wet early [with a smile] and then he settled in.”
The defensive coordinator also talked a little about the uncertainty in the secondary that they’ve dealt with this season, explained that it’s just part of the game, and they have to know all the guys they have on the roster. Desai said the training staff does a great job of trying to anticipate as much as they can for preparation purposes.
Mondays and Tuesdays, the coaches look at who they have, or expect to have, and then they roll with the punches as the week progresses as guys get healthier, or don’t.
It was later pointed out that not only are the Eagles rotating guys around the secondary, but they have five defensive backs who have never played a defensive snap coming into the season, and Josh Jobe only had 12 previously. Desai was asked how they get the guys prepared and make sure they’re ready for the challenge, and the DC credited the defensive coaches for getting everyone ready.
They try and rely on their system stuff, things that they’ve spent a lot of time working on leading up to the season, like their fundamentals and techniques and then they tailor it to who they have available and who they think can best fill the roles they need. If the players can’t fill a role, then they adjust the scheme and try to manage some things.
On the LB rotation
Desai said that how they handle the linebacker position will change and rotate, as they do with all positions, but he thought things worked out well with Nakobe Dean’s return. He mentioned that one of the things they focus on is keeping guys fresh, and those rotations allow for that.
“I think it was a good situation for us, to keep everybody fresh, and that’s a big thing for us. We want to stay fresh, obviously through the fourth quarter in every game, and through the whole season.
And, we got some good players at that position that are playing really good football for us, so might as well get everybody some shots on goal.”
The DC admitted that rotating guys can cause stress on the communication aspect on the field, but that’s something they have to prepare for throughout the week. He noted that he and the players work through that situation at practice, and have a plan with the coaches and equipment staff to get the green dots changed on the sideline.
He was asked if that rotation was the reason for the 12 man on the field penalty against the Jets, but Desai was quick to admit that it was his fault they got flagged, saying he tried to substitute and the Jets went no huddle on him.
Later on, Desai was asked if the rotation would continue even after Dean was back 100 percent, but the DC said it would be a week-to-week decision and something that would be game and matchup specific. But, they feel comfortable with all the guys they have.
On Nolan Smith’s opportunities
“We do have a lot of depth up front, and so we gotta keep rolling guys. And when guys are playing good, they gotta keep playing good, and Nolan’s done a good job of given some of the opportunities that he’s been in, and we gotta continue to find ways to increase his role.
But, the way rotations and game flow go is based on the flow of the game, and he’s always a part of that plan, he’s part of that conversation, and then we let the game play out the way it needs to play out, and he understands that.”
On preparing for the Dolphins
With a big smile, Desai acknowledged that the Dolphins offense is No. 1 in just about everything at the moment.
“There’s a lot of things to troubleshoot, like you said. They’re extremely fast, extremely explosive. I think Coach McDaniel does a great job, and Coach Smith over there on offense, they do a great job, and they’ve got playmakers at all levels of the offense and attack all levels of our defense.
So, it’ll be a fun week to try and prepare for them, and get our guys in position to go make some plays for us.”
The DC we on to say that Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa has been playing really efficiently, he’s getting the ball out really quickly, and he’s really decisive with his decisions. Tagovailoa also isn’t taking many hits and is getting the ball to his playmakers, whether that’s on the ground or in the pass game.
Desai talked about how the coaches were going to have a meeting on Tuesday about how they’re going to try and match some of the speed the Dolphins have. The DC explained that they always, no matter the situation, want to play physical football, and so they’ll try and swarm the ball carriers and be around the ball as much as they can.
On DT Milton Williams
“I think Milton has done an outstanding job.”
Desai went on to explain that Williams is so consistent, so physical, he prepares like a pro, and he’s always ready whenever he’s given an opportunity. The DC said that’s what they want out of all of their players, and Williams is someone who consistently steps up.