Message to Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai: Defend the opposing team's tight end

The Eagles experienced difficulty in defending the Patriots' tight ends in Week 1. That has to get fixed moving forward.
Sean Desai, Philadelphia Eagles
Sean Desai, Philadelphia Eagles / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

It was the hiring heard around the world, or at least in the fan base and media... On February 28th, the Philadelphia Eagles hired a new defensive coordinator, Sean Desai. This came after the man that sat in the chair before him, Jonathan Gannon, called an abomination of a game in Super Bowl 52 and left because he somehow got a head coaching job in Arizona.

Since then, we have all wondered what Desai’s defensive scheme would look like and how he would value and utilize the different defensive positions on the field. He is an experienced safeties coach (2019-2020 with the Chicago Bears). He served as a defensive coordinator there in 2021 before spending a year in Seattle with the Seahawks as a defensive assistant and an associate head coach.

Most thought (and/or hoped) that, maybe, all of that experience would serve him well in his new role with the defending NFC champions. One week of the NFL season is in the books, and now, we have some tape.

The Patriots’ tight ends were a PROBLEM for the Eagles' defense in Week 1.

Well... the Eagles finally played their first game of the 2023 season on Sunday. We earned our look at Desai's scheme in action. How did that work out? Buddy… Maybe Sean didn’t realize that tight ends were a thing.

Something happened during Philly's first game that we weren't expecting. Mac Jones enjoyed a better passing performance than a lot of people thought he would.

His day began abysmally and hilariously slow, but he ended up completing 35 of 54 pass attempts. That resulted in 316 passing yards, three touchdowns, an interception, and an average time to throw of 2.52 seconds. 

The larger issue here is the following. Eight of those 35 completions and 92 of those 316 yards were hauled in by the Patriots’ tight ends unit. That isn't even the worst part. Try this on for size. Every reception by a tight end resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. 

That’s very not good, especially when you look at the situations New England found themselves in. On a 3rd-and-6 attempt, Mike Gesicki got nine yards. On a 2nd-and-12 attempt, Hunter Henry earned 13 yards (then, on the next play, he collected another 13 yards). The most deflating conversion came during a 4th-and-8 Pats attempt. Henry got 12 yards. 

In all of those scenarios, the Patriots were behind schedule. It’s not an overreaction to believe that this is an issue that can become a major problem. It can happen sooner than you think.

In Week 2, during their home opener, Philly hosts the Minnesota Vikings and their tight end, T.J. Hockenson. He just signed a $17 million deal and that’s because he’s the real deal. Desai better tighten things in a hurry.

Since we're on the subject, we can't mention the Vikes without mentioning Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. They most certainly need to be accounted for. Sean Desai will need time to game plan for those guys. Unfortunately, he won't have much.

The new D.C. has a lot to familiarize himself with, but his largest task may come in learning that the tight end position is a key asset in most offensive attacks. Yes friends, they do, in fact, exist.

Check out these other Eagles stories as well.