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Eagles' Haason Reddick on turning defense around with play-caller change: 'It's a hard thing to do'

The Eagles are running out of time to stop their spiral before the playoffs, and one of the changes they've already attempted seems to have made life more difficult.

Since shifting the defensive play-calling away from defensive coordinator Sean Desai to senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia before Week 15, Philadelphia has gone 1-2, with both losses coming by way of game-winning drives in the waning moments of the fourth quarter -- making both the unlikelihood and the ramifications of an attempt at a simple fix apparent.

"It's hard, man," linebacker Haason Reddick told reporters Thursday regarding whether or not Philly has enough time to turn it around for the postseason. "It's a hard thing to do. It's our job at the end of the day, so it's not complaints about it. But yeah, it's definitely a hard thing, right? You spend so much time with one DC -- and learn a new DC, at that, in the beginning of the year -- and trying to learn everything he wants us to do. His terminology. The way that he calls things. And then, you know, toward the end of the season we switch. But like I said, at the end of the day, it must get done.

"That's what the higher-ups here felt was needed to get done in order to try to make a change and get some things corrected. As players, we got to go out there and do our best to perform."

The Eagles held a 10-3 record, with an inside track for a second straight NFC East crown and a shot still at a first-round bye at the time Nick Sirianni made Patricia the team's de facto DC. However, a move wasn't necessarily unwarranted.

Philly had just endured a separate 1-2 stretch from Weeks 12-14 in which it allowed 33-plus points in three straight games for just the second time in team history, and the defense also gave up 451.7 yards per contest over that same span.

Patricia's touch did seem to provide an initial spark. The Eagles allowed the Seahawks 297 total yards in Week 15, their first time holding an opponent under 300 since Week 7.

But even though the defense held the Giants to 292 in a tight win the following week, the cracks from Seattle's 92-yard drive to ruin Patricia's inaugural game at the helm carried over in allowing 25 points to New York's 30th ranked scoring offense.

And the dam broke entirely in last week's shocking loss to the Cardinals.

Philadelphia was cruising at halftime with a 21-6 lead before falling apart as Arizona traveled 70-plus yards and scored a touchdown on each of its four second-half drives – including Kyler Murray's two-minute drill to doom the Eagles.

The Cardinals' 35 points and 449 yards were both season highs for an Arizona offense lacking in firepower.

"I think a lot of it," Reddick said when asked how much of the performance had to do with a new defensive coordinator installing new ideas. "Like you said, we changed coordinators. They got a different style, a different way the want things done, and that's pretty much what it is. Patricia is in there now. He has a certain way that he would like for things to be done. We're doing our best to adapt to that in this time period that we have and trying to get everybody on the same page moving forward. That way we can be great in the playoffs."

Jalen Hurts and the offense did stall with alarming regularity in the final two frames against Arizona, but blame for the loss that eliminated the Eagles' chances at the NFC's top seed and put the Cowboys in line to take the division with a Week 18 win belongs largely at the defense's doorstep.

To add insult to that, the latest display of ineptitude took place in front of last year's defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon, who left a 2022 NFC-winning unit that ranked eighth in points allowed and second in yards allowed to become head coach for the Cardinals.

Philadelphia enters the final week of the regular season ranked 29th and 23rd in those categories, respectively.

Reddick, still a stellar leader on that side of things, made his second straight Pro Bowl while putting up double-digit sacks for a fourth year in a row, but he's not immune to the changes at hand.

Despite being the team's most productive pass rusher by far, he dropped back into coverage six times against the Cardinals, per Next Gen Stats. It was a new approach head coach Nick Sirianni claimed Monday was about avoiding predictability in different fronts.

"Right now we're just trying to get things done to win the game," Reddick said about it Thursday. "I'm just doing what's asked of me at the end of the day and trying to help the team win in whatever way we can win. So if that's what it costs for it, I'm willing to do it. I'm gonna go out there and do what's required of me. Do what I'm asked to do at the end of the day. And hopefully that plan works and that'll be what's needed to get done in order for us to win."

The plan didn't result in a win against the Cardinals, and no amount of alterations this season has put Philly near the level it was performing at last year.

Reddick, for one, appears game to keep doing whatever it takes, but the once 10-1 Eagles now stand at 10-5, looking far less than capable of the playoff greatness they seek a week and change away from the postseason.

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