It isn't a surprise that Sean McDermott will be the Eagles' defensive coordinator -- when the team revealed the extent of Jim Johnson's problem with metastasized melanoma last January, it seemed very unlikely Johnson would be able to function in that role in 2009, or afterward. Johnson has officially been on leave since May 18.
However, this morning's abrupt announcement that McDermott will be introduced as the coordinator at a Saturday news conference -- without any sort of "interim" title -- is surprising. The team provided no immediate details. It seems reasonable to infer that Johnson's situation is so dire, there is no point in continuing to hold out the possibility of his return. A team spokesman said Johnson is unavailable for comment, and there will be no obligatory quote from Johnson provided.
UPDATED: The Eagles have provided these quotes from head coach Andy Reid: "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Jim Johnson and his family as they battle through this difficult time in his cancer treatments. I have been in constant communication with Jim and his wife (Vicky) throughout this offseason and they are thankful for all the support they have received from the Eagles organization, the fans and the entire NFL community.
"As far as Sean McDermott, we have full confidence he can continue to lead this defense in his new role. He showed great command and presence in the offseason camps and has had an opportunity to learn from the best in the business. He’s very smart, works very hard, and has a good rapport with the players and the assistant coaches. He’s ready for this and I’m confident he’ll do a great job."
It probably benefits McDermott, having the players know that he is the coordinator, not just a guy filling in, with training camp starting Sunday at Lehigh. But during minicamps, the Eagles allowed no media access to McDermott, while Johnson was away being treated, seemingly underscoring the fact that the job still belonged to Johnson. This news conference, and bestowing of the title to McDermott, is a 180-degree change from that stance.
McDermott, 35, has worked for the Eagles in a number of roles since 1998. He is a graduate of La Salle High and William and Mary.