Favorite Emerges in Eagles Search for Defensive Coordinator

Nick Sirianni

Getty Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is being cautious about announcing his starting right tackle for Sunday.

The Philadelphia Eagles brought Sean Desai in for a second interview on February 27 as they look to fill the defensive coordinator position vacated by Jonathan Gannon. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Desai is a finalist for the job and underwent an in-person meeting with team brass at the NovaCare Complex.

The 39-year-old assistant has been rising up the professional ranks and held the role of Associate Head Coach-Defense last season for the Seattle Seahawks. Desai was a trusted advisor to head coach Pete Carroll and he played a significant role in defensive gameplan and scheme. The Seahawks were ranked No. 26 in total defense — 6,149 total yards, 361.7 per game — although the team seemed to get the most out of limited personnel during an expected playoff run.

Prior to arriving in Seattle, Desai was a bright young assistant in the Chicago Bears’ organization. He rose up the coaching ladder there going from a defensive quality control coach all the way up to defensive coordinator. The Bears’ defense was dominant under his one-year watch and ranked No. 2 in passing defense and No. 4 in sacks. Robert Quinn — an Eagles pass rusher heading for free agency — found the fountain of youth with Desai calling the plays and recorded 18.5 sacks in their lone season together.

“Everyone understands the guy is a special coach. Very, very smart,” Seattle defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt told the Seahawks website. “He’s somebody who’s just very dedicated to his craft. I know the guy is a heck of a person and a hell of a football coach, and he’s somebody I trust. So he checks all the boxes.”

Desai has a multi-layered background with degrees from Boston University, Columbia University, and Temple University. He earned a doctorate in educational administration from Temple in 2008 before serving as an adjunct professor for two years. He also served successful stints at the University of Miami (assistant director of football operations) and Boston College (running backs coach, special teams coordinator).

Darius Slay Lobbies for Secondary Coach Dennard Wilson

Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay continues to pound the drum loudly for in-house candidate Dennard Wilson. The Eagles’ beloved defensive backs coach is on the shortlist to take over for Jonathan Gannon, but the team is doing their due diligence on a bevy of outside candidates before making a final decision.

Slay, who has lobbied for Wilson on several occasions, took to Twitter and wrote: “Man with all these new coaches getting jobs.. I kno my guy Dennard Wilson should be a DC in the NFL!!”

He wasn’t the only Eagles defensive player to back Wilson publicly. Starting safeties Marcus Epps and C.J. Gardner-Johnson quickly piggy-backed off Slay’s tweet in full support of a promotion for their position coach.

Jesse Minter, Chris Shula Lead Outside Candidates

The list of finalists for the defensive coordinator job is a pretty short one if reports are true. The other guys in the mix include Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and Los Angeles Rams defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Chris Shula. That’s it.

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard is out of the running after the two sides agreed to mutually part ways. Ditto for Vance Joseph who accepted the defensive coordinator job with the Denver Broncos.

Glenn Schumann — the co-defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia — interviewed with the Eagles but decided to return to the Bulldogs. Current Eagles defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is considered a dark horse candidate. And former Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner playfully made his plea for the position.

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