Shortly after former Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon left the Birds to take over as the new Cardinals’ head coach on February 14th, the Eagles’ front office hired Sean Desai as their new defensive coordinator.
Desai, who made history in 2021 as the first coordinator of Indian descent as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator, has inherited one of the best defenses in the NFL in coming to Philadelphia. 

The Eagles’ defense will look slightly different this season than it did last year due to several key contributors departing in free agency. Big names from the Eagles’ secondary such as CJ Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps won’t be wearing kelly green next season. Neither will linebackers Kyzir White and TJ Edwards or Defensive Tackle Javon Hargrave. Hargrave was a pivotal contributor to the historic Eagles’ pass rush last season, recording a career-high 11 sacks; in three seasons with the Birds, Hargrave totaled 23 sacks. His strong play attracted the attention of the 49ers, with whom Hargrave inked a 4 year, $84 million deal in the offseason.

For the most part, though, the Eagles pass rush will remain the same. Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox will each stay put in Philadelphia for the 2023-24 NFL season. These four returning Eagles’  combined to record 45 sacks last season and will look to inflict even more damage against opposing offenses this fall. 

Darius Slay and James Bradberry will remain a part of the Eagles’ secondary after concerns that they, like Gardner-Johnson and Epps, might depart via free agency. Slay and Bradberry recorded three interceptions each last season and bring great experience to an Eagles’ secondary that will include rookie safety Sydney Brown and rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo. 

It will be exciting to see how new defensive coordinator Sean Desai uses the young players who will be key to the Eagles’ success in 2023-24, ranging from the aforementioned Brown and Ringo to Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and incoming rookie Jalen Carter.

Both Davis and Dean are entering their second seasons in the NFL this season, and it will be key to the Eagles’ success that Desai develops both. 

In addition to the strength the Eagles already have for Desai to work with on the defensive side of the ball, others have arrived in Philly via free agency, including former Steelers’ safety Terrell Edmunds and former Browns’ cornerback Greedy Williams. In his five seasons in the NFL, Edmunds has played in seventy-nine games, totaling five sacks, five interceptions, and two hundred seventy-six solo tackles. Meanwhile, Williams has played in thirty-nine games over his first three NFL seasons with the Browns, recording one forced fumble, two interceptions, and seventy-eight solo tackles. 

With the firepower at Desai’s disposal, the Eagles look to build off of their strong 2022-23 season, in which a few key defensive blunders kept them from beating the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. The pressure for Desai in year one as the Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator will no doubt be immense, but Desai has the wit and experience to succeed in such an environment. 

Desai may be one of the most educated coordinators in the NFL. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science with a minor in Biology from Boston University in 2004 before earning his Master’s in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Columbia University a year later.

In 2008, Desai earned his doctorate in Educational Administration from Temple University, leading him to be nicknamed “Doc.”

Desai was an adjunct professor at Temple for two years, bringing valuable teaching experience to his role as the Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator.

During his time as a doctorate student at Temple, Desai started his coaching career as a defensive and special teams coach. After working on the Temple coaching staff since 2006, Desai was promoted to Temple’s special teams coordinator in 2010. Desai continued working in the college ranks through 2012, working on the University of Miami’s football staff as the team’s assistant director of football operations in 2011 and then working in 2012 as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator for Boston College.

In 2013, Desai made the jump to the NFL, working as the defensive quality control coach for the Chicago Bears through 2018. Desai remained in the Bears’ organization through the 2021 NFL season, serving as the safety coach from 2019-2020 and then as the defensive coordinator in 2021.

After Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy was fired following the 2021-22 NFL season, Desai was essentially forced out as the organization did not decide to hold onto him. Less than a month after the Bears fired Nagy, Desai was hired by the Seattle Seahawks to serve as an Associate Defensive head coach for the 2022-23 NFL season before coming to Philadelphia. 

Desai has a lot of unique experiences and perspectives, which he will bring with him to his position as the Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator.
He has all the pieces. It’s on him to execute. 

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

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