Q. I know it’s only been one practice, but you’ve been with LB Nakobe Dean now a full offseason, what did you see from him yesterday and this offseason that makes you confident he can be the guy this year? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
SEAN DESAI: The biggest thing I see from him is just the ability and the willingness to keep growing. That’s what we’re looking for, really out of all these guys, and him in particular because it’s a new role for him, and we’re excited about it because he’s got that mindset. He’s been really working hard obviously in the offseason and all summer, in constant communication with his coaches and myself, and kind of just setting himself up. He’s got to keep taking that mindset on a daily grind type of mindset.
Q. Where is LB Nakobe Dean in terms of knowing the defense well enough that he can play fast but also help his teammates? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I think everybody is probably at a similar level. I think they all have a really good grasp of the defense. I’m really proud of them. Those guys worked really hard over the summertime based on where we left off, and they took that kind of challenge of owning a lot of the stuff that we were doing.
So, they came in really prepared, and we’re throwing a lot at them right now, and I kind of told them that. I said it’s kind of intentional from my perspective to challenge them a little bit and put a little pressure on them and then things will ease up. I believe in teaching on the field and learning that way and having guys learn through some mistakes, and so I think he’s doing a great job with that, and then really embracing it.
Q. What’s your philosophy as far as throwing a lot at young guys as opposed to bringing them along slowly and letting them learn slowly? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I guess that’s part of the art of coaching. In this role, that’s part of the art. I think my philosophy is at least I’m open and honest with them from the beginning. They know what the expectation is, and they trust, and they’ll see over time that we’re going to take care of them mentally, too, with the strain. The schedule helps them with the process that we do and how we install and the time that we have to walk through things and kind of talk through things, the meeting time that we have. I think they understand that, and I think they’re going to really embrace it, and they are really embracing it. I’m really happy that they’re doing that.
Q. When you say you are throwing a lot at them, what in particular? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: Just in terms of — maybe it’s not a lot. One of the guys yesterday said, ‘This ain’t a lot.’ So maybe it’s just my perspective. But it’s just when you install schemes, there’s different philosophies and how you do it. You can segment and do two things a day or four things, so it’s just the volume. For me, I thought it was a lot, but a lot of the guys came back and told me it wasn’t a lot. So, I don’t know.
Q. What are the challenges when you have five starters you have to replace on defense? What sort of challenges does that present? (Ed Kracz)
SEAN DESAI: You guys know, you guys have been covering this organization, I’ve been a part of different organizations. The challenge every year is to redefine and recreate your team. Even when there’s continuity and there’s a lot of starters that come back, it’s still a challenge for them to grow and learn from that. We don’t want to get caught in a place of complacency and rely on our past. So that’s the big thing. Whoever we’re bringing in, if it’s 11 guys, we’re trying to find the best 11 to fit this defense and our personnel and our players and our team well.
I think the guys are really taking that daily approach to do that and really rising to that challenge. And I’m saying that they’re doing it, and they are, but it’s really only day two of a long training camp here. They’ve got to continue to do it, and that’s our job as coaches to motivate them to continue to do it.
Q. It’s a concentrated period of time. What indicators are you looking for to know that they’re where they need to be this summer? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: It’s early. Our biggest thing is we talked about our identity. I talked to you guys about our identity. It’s all going to start there. We want to play a physical brand of football. We want to be able to run and hit, and those things, there’s not much that I’m going to do to do that. Those are choices that they’re making, and they’re making them. They’ve made them here for a long time, and we’re going to continue to hold them to that standard to make them.
Once you get the baseline done is when you can start really getting to the next level of football. The baseline has been set here, it’s going to continue to be set and we’re going to hold everybody to that standard, and now we just keep layering in the teaching of it. That’s no different than anybody in the NFL right now. Everybody is installing their schemes and teaching. It doesn’t matter who’s on your team or where you came from, it’s about what’s going on today and winning the day really as best you can.
Q. There’s a lot of different organizations you were with. A lot of people with Head Coach Nick Sirianni say he’s hyperfocused on situational football. Everybody is in the league, but have you sensed a difference here than your past stops? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, no doubt there’s a difference. You said it the best. There is a hyperfocus and it’s awesome. I think the players embrace it. I know we do as a staff, and it keeps us on our toes. I think what [Head] Coach [Nick Sirianni] is really good at is trying to create game-like situations, whether we’re in the meeting room or on the practice field constantly. To be honest with you, that’s real football. You’ve got to practice real football if you want to be a real good football team.
The other stuff is not fake football, but it’s like you want to throw a situation on somebody and see how they react because that’s what happens in a game. I think Coach does a tremendous job, and I’m excited to go through this whole process that way through training camp and the season with him that way.
Q. What’s your philosophy on determining who gets reps with what teams? (Bo Wulf)
SEAN DESAI: We kind of talk about that as a staff. Right now, we’re at the phase where we’ve just got to get everybody reps. It doesn’t really matter. I’m not a big, ‘Hey, these are the ones, these are the twos, these are the threes.’ We’ve got to get everybody reps, we’ve got to get everybody on tape, we’ve got to get everybody evaluated, everybody has got to get a fair shot at competing, and then we go. Then individual drills are a big part of that.
That’s another big piece of this evaluation for us is how they’re working there and the reps they’re getting there, and then obviously our walk-throughs. We just like to roll guys and make sure we get the combinations in and make sure everybody is getting an opportunity. Because that’s what training camp is about, right? Getting everybody an opportunity to compete.
Q. You were asked about this earlier at your first press conference in the Spring, but what can people expect from a Sean Desai-coached defense? (Dave Uram)
SEAN DESAI: [Jokingly/laughter] Did you miss that press conference? Was it vacation time? I mean, it’s like we said earlier. We want to run. We want to hit. We want to impose our will on people. We want to embody the brand of this city and be gritty and be tough, and we’re not going to take anything from anybody. That’s pretty close to a direct quote from that press conference. We want people to be able to feel us, physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever it takes, we want people to know that we’re on the field, too, and we’re going to dictate how we play the game on defense.
Q. DT Jordan Davis is a guy who’s trying to get a bigger role in the defense. What have you seen from him on tape earlier versus now that’s different? (E.J. Smith)
SEAN DESAI: It’s day two of training camp. I love the shape that he’s come in in, I love the mentality that he’s been playing with. I love what [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker has done with him to keep him motivated and keep him going. It’s early. We want to see that day in and day out. We’re a long ways away from playing a regular season game right now, so it’s about focusing on that process and being mentally tough enough to go through that process and play at the same level every day in this heat, in these conditions, and those things are real. That’s really what we want to see of everybody, including him.
Q. Can DT Jordan Davis be an impactful pass rusher? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: You’ve seen our front. I think all those guys can be impactful pass rushers. We’ve just got to find those roles, and it’s our job to get them in those roles to do it. Yeah, I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can be impactful pass rushers.
Q. What do you see in DT Jordan Davis specifically? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: You see him. Go find another human being that looks like him, so I think that part of it. There are not many people built like that. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s powerful. It’s about putting it all together and then us helping him put it all together and getting the right combination of guys in there and being impactful. But we just need guys to be really great right now with the techniques that they’re learning and the fundamentals. That’s really the primary focus of this.
Q. You had rookie contributors last year. What will it take for S Sydney Brown to get on the field early in his career here? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: To me, and the players have heard this, it takes the same as it does for [CB] Darius Slay to get on the field. They’ve got to prove it. They’ve got to prove that they’re mastering the defense, they’re mastering their technique and fundamentals and that they’re building confidence with the people around them because it’s 11 as one.
Q. You’ve had six or seven guys who are starters last year – (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: That’s right, and they’ve got an edge for sure because they’ve proven it over a long time, like [CB Darius] Slay. Those guys have an edge because they know how to prove it, so that’s what [S] Sydney [Brown] has to learn. That’s really what all rookies got to learn is how do you fit in and how do you prove it and get yourself the respectability and accountability amongst your peers to earn a spot on a really good defense.
They all know that, and the cool thing is they’re all excited about it. So that’s on them. That’s on those guys, and they know that, and we’re going to help them. We’re going to nurture them and develop them the same way and coach them hard and hold them accountable and make sure they’ve got opportunities to compete, but it’s a work in progress.
Q. How much does it help you as a defensive coordinator to have guys like DT Fletcher Cox, DE Brandon Graham and CB Darius Slay who have been here for a while and kind of know what’s going on? (Martin Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. Anytime you have veteran guys, and you said a lot of them, we have a few more, also, it helps tremendously. Those guys have played so much football, have seen so much football, and I respect that. I respect that.
I love to learn from other people’s experiences, so I’m always asking those guys questions of what they’re seeing, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, and they’re telling me. We agree, and sometimes if we don’t, we talk about it. That’s great. That’s part of me growing and them growing, and we’re doing this thing together.
Q. Who wins when there’s a disagreement? (Martin Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I don’t see it as that. That’s like saying who wins in a classroom, the teacher or the student. You’ve got kids, right? You’re not trying to compete with your teacher. We’re trying to grow each other’s knowledge and trying to figure out what’s best for all of us, and I think that’s the angle we take at it. When you make it that way in a classroom, that’s not really a conducive type of classroom, and we aren’t going to make it that way.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni has talked about how he finds himself watching the wide receivers closely or being a little harder on them because that’s his position background. Is it like that with you for safeties? (Bo Wulf)
SEAN DESAI: I think that’s a good question for my position coaches, to see where they feel — because obviously I’ve coached safeties in this league, coached nickels, been in the DB room, coached OLBs or been in that room, coached ILBs. So based on the day and the technique or something that happens, each coach might feel a little bit differently.
But I try to get around. You guys see me at practice. I try to be around everybody.
I think that’s important in my role, and then yeah, I think that’s probably a better suited question for how they feel if I’m being a little bit harder on them, but I try not to be. Hopefully I can distribute that hardness evenly.
Q. I know it’s early to make judgments on DT Jalen Carter’s play on the field, but what have you seen from him behind the scenes since he’s been here? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: He’s learned to be a pro. He’s just like [S] Sydney [Brown] and — he’s doing a great job and he’s taking ownership. He knows what it is in terms of the preparation for your mind and your body, off the field, in the weight room, in the training room, all that stuff. He’s embracing it and learning it, and he’s doing a great job.
[Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker is doing a tremendous job with him, and we’ve got a team of people that were built this way, to take on all of our rookies and help develop them.
[Director of Player Development] Connor Barwin, we have a great development program. It’s all these guys that are supporting all these guys to help that transition, and he’s on par with all of them.
Q. How much of a luxury is it for you to have Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia here as sort of a veteran defensive mind who has kind of done it all? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: I think it’s tremendous. I think I said this in my first press conference, it’s about talent acquisition, like that’s what this industry is, and it’s the same for coaches. We just want talented people that have no egos and that are going to work together towards a common cause, and that’s what [Head] Coach Nick [Sirianni] preaches, that’s what [Chairman & Chief Executive Officer] Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie preaches, that’s what [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] preaches and that’s what we’re doing.
[Senior Defensive Assistant] Matt [Patricia] is a tremendous asset. He’s got so many years of experience on all sides of the ball and as a head coach, as a coordinator, as a position coach, coaching different position rooms. He’s been a tremendous asset I think for me obviously and really for our staff, and we’ve really integrated it well, and he’s able to help a lot of different people and be an assisting role. Kind of like I am during practice.
You asked, I am not going to go down there and coach the safeties and take over the drill and all that stuff. That’s not my role right now. My role is to help develop everybody, and that’s where Matt [Patricia] is able to help do that.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni is very big on preventing explosive plays and former Eagles Defensive Coordinator and current Cardinals Head Coach Jonathan Gannon followed that. Has that always been part of your philosophy? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: Oh, yeah. That’s part of that double positives, right? That’s our organizational philosophy in terms of explosive and takeaways. That’s our double positive and that’s a big part of our philosophy.
Q. How do you measure explosive plays with run and pass? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: We have some metrics that we use and then we’re still kind of working through making sure that it fits with everything, but the biggest thing is you don’t want to give a big real estate of yards. There’s 100 yards on the field and that’s the field that you’re defending. Any chunk of real estate that comes, whether it be through penalties, through explosive plays, missed tackles that lead to big chunks of yards, those things are things that we don’t want to play. They’re going to happen, but we want to try to limit those as best we can and get on the positive side of that as much as we can.
Q. What are your early impressions of the young cornerbacks behind CB Darius Slay, CB James Bradberry and CB Avonte Maddox? (Shamus Clancy)
SEAN DESAI: Similarly, they’re young, they’re competing and they’re working hard and they’re taking advantage of their opportunities to learn behind two really good, really smart veteran football players that have a lot of production in this league, so they’re pushing them, and that’s all we want from them. We want them to keep growing and learning and being themselves. When it’s their chance to go, they can’t play press or off or whatever, they can’t do it how somebody else does it. They’ve got to play in their own way, and we’re going to teach them how to play it in their own way and optimize their skill set that way.