Eagles' Matt Patricia shakeup makes zero sense based on every NFL job he's had the past few years

'Tis the season for coordinator changes, apparently.

In the quiet of night, the Philadelphia Eagles changed defensive play-callers, giving Sean Desai’s former duties to Matt Patricia prior to their "Monday Night Football" matchup against the Seahawks in Seattle.

The decision is surprising for a couple of reasons. One, coaching changes don’t typically happen this late in the season for teams that are basically guaranteed to make the playoffs. The Eagles have struggled on defense as of late, but they’re still 10-3 and have a great deal of control over winning the NFC East and locking up a home playoff game. Second, the Eagles are handing over their defense to a coach who hasn’t had resounding success over the past half-decade of his career, making the choice for Patricia dubious.

Patricia will coach from the sideline while Desai will be up in the booth, ESPN's Tim McManus reported.

Desai was hired in February to replace Jonathan Gannon, who became head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane reported that one reason for the demotion for Desai was:

"Sean's smart and the guys like him, but he doesn’t carry himself with confidence," a team source said. “And some players started to feel that.”

The Eagles should know firsthand what they’re getting in Patricia, considering he’s largely responsible for their Super Bowl victory after the 2017 season. Nick Foles and the Eagles' offense, and just about every offense the Patriots faced that season, torched Patricia before he took his talents to Detroit as the Lions' head coach for the 2018 season. In Detroit, Patricia was never able to build any semblance of a strong defense and he ostracized several players, including current Eagles cornerback Darius Slay.

Based on his track record of how teams have performed under his control, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to have faith in him running the Eagles' defense.

Matt Patricia (left) will take over defensive play-calling duties from Sean Desai, who will remain the Eagles' defensive coordinator. What? (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Patricia (left) will take over defensive play-calling duties from Sean Desai, who will remain the Eagles' defensive coordinator. What? (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s run back to 2017 to get a scope on how disastrous a season that was for the Patriots’ defense. According to, the Patriots ranked 26th in expected points allowed (0.029) per play on defense and 30th in success rate (44.3%). They also ranked 31st in yards per play allowed (5.7) that season. Those results repeated themselves in Detroit, where the Lions ranked 31st in expected points added per play (0.107) during the 2018-2020 stretch where Patricia was the leader of the team.

As soon as Patricia departed the Patriots for Detroit, they resumed their mantle as one of the toughest defenses in the league under the tutelage of Bill Belichick. The Patriots ranked sixth in both expected points allowed per play (-0.039) and success rate (42.6%) for the 2018 season.

Patricia returned to the Patriots after his stint with the Lions, where he helped oversee the Patriots' offensive line and served as their play-caller on offense. The Patriots had one of the worst offenses in the league with Patricia calling the shots, clearing the way for him to eventually find his way to the Eagles this season. That’s six years of displaying woeful coaching results and now he will be taking over the Eagles' defense that desperately needs to get things turned around before the playoffs start.

In his weekly "The Overhang" column, Yahoo Sports' Nate Tice pointed out some of the Eagles' defensive shortcomings heading into Monday night:

It was an expected natural regression but made even more severe given the patchwork personnel that has occupied about half of that unit’s starters. The Eagles currently rank 29th in defensive success rate (tied with the Denver Broncos, aka “that defense that gave up 70”) and 22nd in weighted DVOA, which weighs recent week performances. ...

The defense has been caught in a transition year. It can still create a pass rush with four, something that is critical in the playoffs, but when the backend personnel is depleted without a simple answer in terms of reinforcements, how will the Eagles find an answer? Do they get into more funky looks and blitz more?

Patricia may be exactly what the Eagles need as far as new ideas and better play-calling, but there isn’t a reason to believe that based on his recent track record.

Luckily for Patricia and the Eagles, they don’t exactly have a murderer’s row of opponents to face before the end of the regular season. Geno Smith seems likely to miss the Monday night game, and after that the Eagles have two games against the Giants and one against the Cardinals. That’s a fairly easy stretch to end the season where Patricia being in charge may not matter — they have way more talent than any of those teams they’re facing.

They’ll be tested the hardest when the playoffs start, but the Eagles may be making a lateral (or negative) move with Patrica based on his recent résumé. Good luck to head coach Nick Sirianni, because this is one risky play he’s putting together.

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