Nick Sirianni made that clear to reporters in Seattle after the Philadelphia Eagles lost their third straight game, this one a heartbreaking 20-17 defeat after the Seattle Seahawks scored a 29-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left in Monday night’s game at Lumen Field.
The Eagles head coach said that Patricia and deposed defensive coordinator Sean Desai will work as one.
“It’s a collaborative effort on defense; obviously the final decisions are made by Matt right now,” said Sirianni after his team remained winless in December and sits at 10-4 with all reasonable hopes to be the top seed in the NFC playoffs all but gone.
That’s probably not good news for Desai’s long-term employment for the Eagles, who will likely be in the market again this offseason for a defensive coordinator.
There could be some experienced ones available, including Matt Eberflus if the Chicago Bears move on from his as their head coach, and Wink Martindale if he and New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll part ways per a report from NFL Insider Jay Glazer who said it could happen.
Already available is fired L.A. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, who did a fine job coordinating the Rams’ defense before moving on to the Chargers.
Until then, Desai will need to adjust to his new role.
“As disappointed as Sean was, I think he handled himself like a true pro,” said Sirianni. “We know Sean is still helpful to this football team. He has a bright mind and he can help. As I listened in on defense (Monday night), they were communicating back and forth similar to the way Matt and Sean communicated with the roles reversed.”
Sirianni said the move away from Patricia to be the play-caller was his and his alone.
“I understand there will be scrutiny on it, but I feel like anything I can do in my position to help the team succeed, I’m going to try to do,” he said. “…just wanted to make an adjustment because I didn’t feel like we were doing well enough there. In that situation, I know that’s not something that is common of a 10-3 team.”
Sirianni referenced his rookie year as a head coach in 2021, when he decided to hand off his play-calling duties on offense to Shane Steichen after the team opened the year at 2-5 before rebounding to end 9-8 and earning a trip to the playoffs.
“A little bit different of circumstances, but just thought the adjustment needed to be made to give the defense a spark and help our players play better,” he said.
Sirianni said the move was made midweek, in time for Patricia to be more involved in game planning, though the news didn’t become public until Sunday, adding that he wanted to make sure his players knew first. The decision was reached, the coach said, without consulting his player council.
He called it “a tough decision” to move on from Desai.
The Eagles’ defense did play a little better with Patrcia at the controls. Maybe?
They got off the field better on third down, allowing Seattle six conversions in 14 tries, a 42.9 percent success rate that is infinitely better than the plus-60 percent they had surrendered in the previous three games.
They held the Seahawks out of the end zone on their two red-zone visits, but, of course, giving up a 23-yard touchdown run to Kenneth Walker and the game-winning 29-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba offsets the red-zone success.
And there’s still the matter of not turning the ball over. The Eagles didn’t get any again on Monday night and are still stuck on five interceptions. Only the Tennessee Titans had fewer going into Week 15 with just three.
Oh, and the tackling was spotty, to say the least, say nothing of the 92-yard drive in the final two minutes that delivered Seattle its first win after four straight losses.
Rome, though, wasn’t built in a day, so Patricia can’t answer everything everywhere all at once, but this defense doesn’t have much time to find answers. The construction has to begin immediately, starting on Christmas Day when the Eagles host the New York Giants.