Desai explains his biggest fault from blowout to 49ers

Sean Desai’s defense didn’t have a good showing against the 49ers and on Tuesday Desai explained where he went wrong.

On Sunday, the 49ers outperformed the Eagles defense, losing 42–19. There is no other way to say it.

After forcing two quick three-and-outs, the 49ers went on six consecutive drives that resulted in touchdowns; the first five of those drives were longer than 75 yards. The game was particularly tough for Sean Desai’s team.

What, though, concerned me the most about the Eagles’ performance in the first season as their defensive coordinator?

“I need to respond to certain calls in a different way, a little faster, and in better circumstances,” Desai stated. I must be capable of doing it.

That is what will enable our soldiers to perform in a more organized manner. That’s something I need to do better, therefore. We got right into the game. We had a great first quarter of play, but I didn’t get to the stuff we needed to get to quickly enough.

It’s possible to argue that the Eagles’ inability to find solutions in this game was more of an issue than their inability to find any answers at all. The 49ers’ touchdown drive at the conclusion of the game marked the only other instance in which the Eagles’ defense allowed no score after the first two possessions.

In the second half, the 49ers’ first four drives resulted in touchdowns.

Desai remarked, “I have to be better for them because they’re looking to me.” “I need to get them into the correct call more quickly and reliably. That, in my opinion, is what matters most.

Desai on Tuesday was asked about the process of trying to get to his answers during a game.

“To be honest with you, I think we’ve done a good job of it this year, I really do, over the course of the year,” Desai said. “In this game, I think we — the coaches and we all talk about it, and we continue to lean in with each other.

“It’s just a matter of me calling the right play at the right time. Give credit to them, they hit more right plays at the right time than I did.”

In fairness to Desai, he’s right about one thing. There have been games this year when he has adjusted and the Eagles finished strong. The Eagles were able to shut out the Chiefs in the second half on the road in Week 11 and they held the high-flying Dolphins to just 7 points in the second half in Week 7.

But against the 49ers? They couldn’t do anything to stop them in the second half, which was really highlighted after the Eagles forced a couple of three-and-outs to start the game.

What was the difference for the Eagles after those two early stops?

“I think one thing [the 49ers] leaned into was their 4 by 1 passing game, and it was good of them,” Desai said. “I got to be able to get our answers to the 4 by 1 game a little faster and more consistently, and they did it on some mixed down situations.

“They kind of played off of some of their run-pass tips, and they did a good job of calling it that way. We were good on some and not good on others. When we’re not good in terms of the play call there, it exposed us in space. That’s on me. I’ve got to be better longer.”

While Desai has done some good things this season — and there have been really strong moments — the overall product hasn’t been great. The Eagles have the No. 22-ranked defense in the NFL and the No. 29-ranked passing defense.

What might bother head coach Nick Sirianni most about his defense is how bad they have been situationally.

Through 13 weeks, the Eagles have the worst third-down defense in the NFL, giving up conversions 47.3% of the time. The second-worst third-down team in the league? Jonathan Gannon’s Cardinals.

The really scary thing is that the Eagles aren’t good in 3rd-and-long situations either, giving up first downs on 29.3% on 3rd-and-7 or longer, ranking eighth-worst in the NFL. They goal is to get teams into 3rd-and-long and go hunting but even that hasn’t worked.

The Eagles have given up more first downs (29) on 3rd-and-7 or longer than any other team in the NFL.

They’re not good in the red zone either. The Eagles are 29th in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 68.3% of drives that get inside their 20.

Those are two ares the Eagles desperately need to fix immediately against the Cowboys, who rank second in the NFL on third downs but are 17th in red zone success.

“It’s a high focus, and it’s going to get even higher,” Desai said. “We’ve got to do a better job as a staff and coaches and myself leading the staff in those areas. And we will. We will do a better job there.

“It’s about being more consistent for longer. The last few trips down into the red zone, we’ve gotten them to third down. Then we’ve lost on third down. We’ve got to just do better and put our guys in better position to go ahead and execute down there.”

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