Sean Desai

Q. S Justin Evans got a lot of first team reps yesterday. When you look at that safety spot opposite S Reed Blankenship, how do you evaluate him? (John McMullen)

SEAN DESAI: I think he’s right in the thick of it with [S] Terrell [Edmunds] and [S] K’Von [Wallace] and [S] Sydney [Brown]. There’s a really good battle going on at safety right now.

Like I told you guys last week, we just keep trying to roll combinations. That was the function of that, is we are trying to keep getting different combinations of people together, get them communicating with different people, and then try to find what we think eventually is going to be our best matchup to fit that.

Q. How much is that sort of the pre-plan of rolling guys versus maybe somebody who played well during the pre-season or practice? (John McMullen)

SEAN DESAI: I think it’s a combination, but we’ve kind of stuck to our plan the whole way through, even before we were in games. We don’t anticipate changing from the plan.

Because there’s so many variables that happen in a game, that we use our practices and our joint practices to really evaluate our guys. We kind of keep that rotation going. We try to do a great job of communicating with those guys. They embrace it.

Q. Do you ideally want two safeties or are you open to situationally shuffling in guys in different spots? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: I think the biggest thing for us is we’re always going to be open-minded to try to find the best matchups for our guys. That will not change as we go throughout the whole season because that’s really what this thing is about, it’s about trying to put our best players in positions to make plays against their best players, and try to win as many plays as we can in a game. Eventually the outcome will be what the outcome will be.

We’re kind of always preaching that, and always preaching the versatility and adaptability of our scheme and players to their traits. That accounts for how we roll those guys.

Q. S Reed Blankenship is in a position where he’s playing with all these different guys on different days, different situations. How has he handled that? What does that do for him? How does it help him? (Reuben Frank)

SEAN DESAI: I think he’s handled it great. Again, we’ve been communicating with him as well, of that plan to kind of rotate guys.

What it does, is it helps him build continuity and rapport with all the guys. At the end of the day, we obviously want all 11 of these guys, whoever the 11 are that we march out, there are more than 11 that become your starters with your different packages, but you want them all to stay healthy throughout the whole season, right?

The nature of the game is sometimes that doesn’t happen. You have to be able to have that rapport with those guys, build that trust over time. This is the time to do it when you can keep practicing that.

Q. What’s different with DT Jalen Carter last week compared to the first two weeks? (Zach Berman)

SEAN DESAI: I just think he keeps growing and taking steady, incremental steps to keep growing and developing as a player and as a person. [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker is doing a tremendous job developing that way. We’re continuing to stay on him with the details. He knows that he’s got to keep refining those. I think he’s taking ownership of that and he’s growing.

Q. With CB Zech McPhearson out going into the season now, what have you seen from the backup slot corners? (Jimmy Kempski)

SEAN DESAI: Obviously you never want to lose a guy that has been impactful for us like Zech has.

I think when things happen, there’s opportunities that come out of that. These other guys need to step up and take ownership of those roles.

We’ve been doing a good job in that same position group to keep rolling guys and getting different guys different looks and matchups there to help us evaluate and get that experience. I think that will continue to go that way.

Q. What was the reason for giving CB James Bradberry reps in the slot last week? (Bo Wulf)  

SEAN DESAI: Same thing. I think you guys asked that last week. We’re just trying to find different matchups, different roles. It’s about getting the best 11 on the field in different ways.

Why not? We had some rep management things we were doing with some guys. He was not on that list. Why not test him out in there and put him in some situations.

Q. When you have veterans, like LB Zach Cunningham and LB Myles Jack at linebacker, how do you balance what you’ve seen here versus what you see on tape? (Bo Wulf)

SEAN DESAI: I think you’re always aware of the history of all of our guys, what they’ve done on tape, because they’ve earned some stripes on the wall in this league in being productive.

This is a league that’s built on ‘what are you doing for me now?’ That’s the biggest thing. Those guys know that, that they’ve got to prepare, be in the moment now. They’ve done a tremendous job that they’re not relying on their past to have, really, expectations. You rely on your past history to make you better as a football player now. They’re doing that.

Q. As a coordinator, if you have a linebacker like Zach Cunningham that has length like he does, you saw him get his hand on the ball, is that something you can use? Do you look at a guy and say, ‘wow, he’s long, I can do some different things with him?’ (John McMullen)

SEAN DESAI: Oh, yeah. We look at all that stuff. For sure. You don’t want me playing linebacker with my height. I can’t get my hand on those balls. That’s right. All those traits are going to be part of the evaluation.

The biggest thing is he was in the right spot to be able to do that. That means he’s learning the defense, growing to be able to do that. The next step for him is go get the picks, and not the takeaways. We keep growing in that process. That’s for all those guys. All those guys are getting their hands on balls in different spots because they’re doing what’s asked of them within the defense and focusing on their techniques.

Q. What did you make of LB Nolan’s Smith game on Thursday, and with a player like him do you have to make sure that he doesn’t put himself in danger by staying in a game when he might be hurt? (Dave Zangaro)

SEAN DESAI: Like a lot of these young guys, he keeps getting better. He’s developing. He’s really trying to work on his craft. [Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers] Coach [Jeremiah] Washburn is doing a tremendous job of focusing him in on the things he needs to focus on. He plays with a relentless mindset and relentless attitude.

Like I said before, we don’t ever want to take these innate qualities out of these guys. We want to nurture them, help them grow, let them be themselves and fit them into the scheme we’re trying to do.

Q. You obviously have one year of being a defensive coordinator under your belt, how big of an advantage is it that teams don’t have film from last year or a lot of familiarity with your scheme? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: I’m not sure if it’s an advantage. I don’t know. That’s probably a question for the opponent that’s scouting us and scouting me.

From my end, obviously you build on the experiences that you’ve had, you try to build the defense. You have to not recreate – I guess ‘recreate’ is the word – or redefine, reestablish your identity as a defense every year.

I’ve learned that from some of the great coaches I’ve worked for. That’s a big message from [Head] Coach [Nick] Sirianni, we have to reestablish our identity as a team this year. That’s what you have to take real ownership in doing.

Q. As you sort of tweak things, what you have on paper versus how it looks on the field, who are the guys on defense that are most vocal? (Bo Wulf)

SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question because one thing that we’ve tried to do from the beginning is really try to emphasize to all of our players, including my coaches, but really the players, is I want all of them to be vocal. I want all of their input. I want to know where their brains are. I want to know what they’re feeling, seeing on the field. If there’s any gray, try to eliminate as much gray as we can, and provide clarity for these guys through their technique.

We try to keep an open environment for those guys to talk in the meeting rooms, unit meetings, for all these guys to talk. We have these skull sessions periodically throughout training camp where we just keep it an open forum and let those guys kind of fire shots off at me and ask me different questions about the scheme, what they’re thinking and feeling.

It’s really important that we stay connected that way, then the coaches create that environment for them in their rooms. That’s what good teachers do. That’s what we’re in this business for, is to teach these guys and develop them. 

Q. When you rewatch film, what’s your philosophy on grading? Do you single out a player to grade and point out their mistakes? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: Oh, yeah, we grade. It’s not like a fair- or mistake-driven organization. That’s not the philosophy. We’re a teacher-driven organization. We’re going to teach on every single play. We’ll teach all 11 on every single play of what each person did great and what they can improve on.

We try to relate that learning to other guys that are not in that play. There’s limited reps. If I’m the backup corner, I better be listening to the points we’re giving the corners on both those sides. That’s my mental rep. That’s a process of development.

Yeah, we try to teach all 11 and be really detailed with the teaching of our techniques and fundamentals, and hold everybody to a certain standard.

Q. LB Nakobe Dean was mentioning that during the game, you were giving him some extra stuff besides just play call. How do you know the balance there to not overload him? (Dave Zangaro)

SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. That’s an ongoing process. That’s something I pretty much communicate to all the backers every week and every day about what they like. In my experience, there’s different players that like different things. It’s my job to meet them to what they like.

Obviously the most important thing is getting them the play call. From there, if guys like different information, we’ll try to provide it when we have it.

Q. What did you learn about LB Nakobe Dean and what he likes? (Dave Zangaro)

SEAN DESAI: I’ll let him answer that for you.

From my experience so far, I think he likes certain bits of information. It helps that we keep building that relationship. We’re not really in a full game plan mode yet where they’ll know exactly why I’m doing certain things in certain situations.

He likes to know that. He likes to know the ‘why’ behind, hey, coach is call this for these reasons so he knows when he can go take his shots. That is what we really try to do with all our players. When we get into game plan mode, we’ll do that at a higher level, letting our players know why we’re doing certain things in certain situations so they know they can go activate and make plays they need to be making.

Q. What did you know about S Reed Blankenship before you got to Philly, and when was the first time that it kind of clicked to you that he would be a good player? (Zach Berman)

SEAN DESAI: I mean, prior to my time here, I didn’t know much about him [S Reed Blankenship] because I didn’t study the Eagles defense in years past besides watching tape of crossover things, schemes, situational things I really liked. After getting the job and everything, I obviously evaluated everybody.

Really impressed with his approach to the game, his ability to come in last year, be a strong contributor to a really strong defense at such a young age. Then in my time with him, he’s done a tremendous job of keeping that approach, staying humble, really trying to grow as a player in every aspect of his game.

When you have guys that have that mindset, man, it’s such a pleasure to coach them, because that is our job, is to keep developing them, keep teaching them.