PHILADELPHIA -- Nicholas Morrow and Sean Desai are both in their first season with the Philadelphia Eagles, meaning growing pains are to be expected in a new defense. While the philosophy is similar to Jonathan Gannon's defense, Desai is looking to eliminate the growing pains that come with learning new terminology.
The Eagles new defensive coordinator is off to a great start.
"Since I've been here for six weeks ... this is the most that I've learned situationally," Morrow said at Eagles minicamp last week. "We've really emphasized situation awareness, and this is probably the most I've learned in my seven-year career."
What exactly has Desai been teaching the defense over the last six weeks? Situational defense is going to be the key toward this new defensive philosophy.
"I don't want to give [away] too much, but in the team meetings, constantly going over every time we have a team meeting, we bring up situations," Morrow said. "And everyone's up. Anyone could be asked a question, and everyone's responsible to understand what's going on in a game."
Desai, a Temple alum, spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears before the Seattle Seahawks brought him in as the associate head coach on the defense for defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt. The 39-year-old Desai has one season as defensive coordinator in the NFL. In 2021, his Bears unit finished 22nd in points per game allowed (23.9), but sixth in yards per game allowed (312.0). It also finished third in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (191.6) and fourth in sacks (49).
Desai served as a defensive quality control coach from 2013 to 2018 with the Bears before a promotion to coaching safeties from 2019 to 2020. Chicago had a top 10 defense in passing yards allowed in all three seasons Desai was affiliated with that unit. A Vic Fangio disciple, Desai overlapped with him for four seasons in Chicago.
While not being the defensive coordinator in Seattle, Desai played a significant role in the game plan. The Seahawks defense was 13th in passing yards allowed (211.5) despite ranking 25th in points per game allowed (23.6) and 26th in yards per game allowed (361.7) in Desai's lone season in Seattle.
The Eagles defense finished first in the league in sacks (70) and first in passing yards per game (179.8) in 2022, so Desai is an ideal fit to what the team ran the past two seasons. How do the Eagles keep those numbers the same while improving the defense?
Here's where situational football comes in.
"The first thing is you gotta learn the new techniques," Morrow said. "So you may have played a similar coverage in another defense, but you don't understand the technique they want you to use in that same defense.
"So learning the techniques and going on the grass and actually doing it, repping it and having a coach kind of critiquing you on what you're doing right and wrong, it's always valuable. It's also just being around the guys and learning together."