The Eagles are back in Philly as they prepare for the Bills on a short, holiday week. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai spoke to reporters on Wednesday to recap the Chiefs win, talk about a potentially stable secondary, how they approach second-half adjustments, and the challenges they expect from the Bills.
Desai also talked about the snap counts for Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick, why Jalen Carter trying to intercept a spiked ball was impressive, and his thoughts on Fletcher Cox jumping over the OL.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On the secondary
Desai said that going big dime a fair amount was less to do with the return of Bradley Roby and more to do with their opponent and that week’s game plan.
The DC did later talk about getting Roby back and how it’s helping to stabilize the slot position.
“I think it was great to get him back. I know he was eager to get back and get his feet wet after not playing for a while. The conditioning, all that stuff is important.
He did a good job. We just try to keep finding and building that combination of guys we like back there by matchups and by week and who we like to present out there, and he’s done a tremendous job for that.”
He also wouldn’t really comment on the affect the bye week had on Kevin Byard learning more of the defense, but said in general the safety is such a professional and smart player, and he adds great dimension to the team.
Desai was asked about Reed Blankenship and how he didn’t necessarily have any highlight reel plays, but did make some big open field tackles to prevent explosive plays.
“For us those are highlight plays. When we watch the tape those are big time plays. He has answered the bell for us repeatedly, has done a great job and is going to keep getting better too and keep improving. That’s the great thing about him, is he’s just so hungry to keep improving week in and week out.”
This was one of the first times all season that the Eagles secondary had four guys take 100 percent of the snaps, and the DC talked about how helpful that type of continuity is.
“I think at every position you love to have continuity. When the guys play with each other and play amongst each other and communicate with each other, they’re hearing the same voices, feeding off each other, play off each other, communicate different tips and tendencies they see.
On second-half adjustments
“I think our players do a great job of understanding what’s happening, and the coaches, each of the position coaches, when they meet with the guys, they are meeting with them throughout the first half in between series, it’s just kind of getting everybody back to, hey, this is what we have to do to go win this second half.
Whatever our plans are and tweaks that we have to make, we communicate as a staff and coaches with the players, and then the players respond. It’s ultimately on them, and they do a great job of kind of — and we try to get them in the right positions, and they do a great job coming out with that energy and intensity to dominate in the second half, and they’ve done a great job of that.”
On preparing for the Bills
Desai acknowledged that it’s always tough to prepare for an offense that changed it’s offensive coordinator midseason, and that it’s challenging to get a feel for their philosophy and identity as a play-caller.
The DC also talked about having to contain Josh Allen, a quarterback who is a little unpredictable.
“It’s really hard. It’s really hard. [Josh Allen] can beat you throwing the ball, running the ball as a true runner with the quarterback run game, and then as a scrambler. He can create explosives in a lot of different ways. He is big, physical, tough, accurate, has a strong arm.”
He mentioned that keeping things simple for the guys this week will be key, especially on a short week and a holiday week when the schedule is jumbled. Desai gave a lot of credit to the players and coaches who take ownership and making sure they’re prepared to execute at a high level on a week like this, and also lauded Nick Sirianni for doing a great job with the schedule to allow for both work and time with friends and family to enjoy Thanksgiving.
He talked a bit about the work load of Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick, and explained that it’s something they manage during the week and even in-game. Desai noted that it’s also about snap distribution by quarter, but also dependent on the flow of the game.
“I think in terms of conditioning, that’s a big thing, foundational thing that we really believe in is making sure our guys are conditioned. We practice a certain way to help them get into shape and conditioned. They have to do their own stuff, too, to stay up with that. I think that’s a huge part in terms of guys going to finish games. I think our whole defense has really shown they’ve been able to do that.”
Desai said that he couldn’t take credit for Jalen Carter trying to intercept the spike, admitting it wasn’t something he drew up. He credited Carter for thinking fast, and as long as it wasn’t a penalty — which it wasn’t — he thought it was an impressive attempt.
Jalen Carter trying to intercept the spike pic.twitter.com/eQJMYvsH1x
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) November 21, 2023
The DC said that Fletcher Cox did a great job jumping over the Chiefs’ lineman during a tempo play to get lined back up. He noted that it’s important that Cox not hit those guys in that situation, so he needed to get back on track, and he did so quickly.