Eagles defense thrives under McDermott
Philadelphia Eagles first-year defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was promoted to the position on an interim basis in May because Jim Johnson, the successful group's longtime leader, took a medical leave of absence while battling cancer.
Coach Andy Reid removed the interim tag in July as Johnson's health continued to decline. Johnson died shortly after the move was announced.
The Eagles' defense has continued to thrive under McDermott, who has held many assistant positions since joining the organization in 1998. McDermott has retained many of the attacking, blitzing principles Johnson utilized in his scheme that helped to elevate Philadelphia among the league's elite defensively during his nine-year tenure.
On Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, the Redskins' offense will face an Eagles defense that is tied for third (with the Pittsburgh Steelers) in the NFL in sacks and ranks fourth in interceptions. McDermott has adjusted well to his new role, especially under the circumstances, Reid said.
"He's done it graciously and gracefully," Reid said earlier this week in a conference call with reporters who cover the Redskins. "That's a tough situation, especially losing somebody you love, as much as he did Jim, and then having to kind of fill in those shoes and add his personality to it. He's been able to do all of that and been very good with that part of it."
McDermott was in his second stint as the Eagles' secondary coach when Reid picked him to succeed Johnson. "It's a tremendous opportunity for me," McDermott told The Post's Dan Steinberg in a recent interview. "And it's an opportunity I've prepared myself for over the course of my career, really.
"You're always working for your next job and preparing for it in some way shape or form. I just never saw this opportunity coming for me at the Eagles, with Jim Johnson being here and being a legend over the years."
He definitely earned the opportunity, Reid said. "He's a very hard worker," Reid said. "He's a smart guy to start with, he worked very hard to learn X's and O's part and he deals with people well. That's normally a good combination."
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