A lack of depth is crushing the Philadelphia Eagles thus far.
We’ve all been down this road before. Fans hype up the Philadelphia Eagles all offseason long, Super Bowl and MVP predictions are drummed up, the team experiences a handful of rough injuries, and then they come out flat to start the new season. Whether it’s losing to Tampa Bay in Week 2 of 2018, losing to Atlanta in Week 2 of 2019, or now inexplicably dropping the season opener to Washington, it’s always the same story afterwards, “Well, if only *insert name* was healthy, we would’ve won easily!”
Look, I’m not going to pretend that the injury bug hasn’t bit the Eagles hard in recent years, it genuinely has. Not having guys like Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett, and Will Parks genuinely hurt this team on Sunday. However, injuries are apart of football. They always have been and they always will be. Every single organization in the league gets hit with soul-crushing injury blows, despite it feeling like it’s Philly-exclusive at times.
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks entered Week 1 with the same amount of injuries (13). One team lost to last year’s #2 overall pick, while the other dropped 38 points on the road. New Orleans had 10 injuries on Sunday and they knocked off the star-studded Buccaneers, and Washington themselves even had 10 injuries as they absolutely embarrassed the defending NFC East champions.
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A lot of talk was made of the Eagles being down six starters heading into Week 1 as well, which is true. However, Tennessee was down five starters and they beat an exciting Denver team, Green Bay was down four starters and they beat a very good Minnesota team, and even Detroit was down five starters, and they were one bad drop away from knocking off the Bears.
“Injuries happen in football”, someone needs to tape it to Howie Roseman’s office door so he gets reminded of it every single day. Injuries also especially happen to older players with preexisting injury-related concerns. As much as we all like to sit around and act confused when our favorite Eagles go down with brutal injuries during the offseason, we should have seen it coming with a handful of these guys.
Alshon Jeffery is 30 years old with an injury history, Brandon Brooks is 31 years old with multiple surgeries in the last two seasons, Lane Johnson is 30 years old and has had ankle problems for years, Derek Barnett has missed 14 games since being drafted, and DeSean Jackson hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013.
People are quick to point out that the 2018 and 2019 seasons were derailed due to crippling injuries, but then forget how gloomy things looked in 2017 as well.
The 2017 Eagles lost their Hall of Fame LT (Jason Peters) to injury, had to bench their initial starting LG (Issac Seumalo) because he stunk, lost their future Hall of Fame RB (Darren Sproles) to injury, and of course saw their MVP quarterback (Carson Wentz) go down with an ACL tear. In today’s standards, that should be more than enough to justify another 9-7 season, right?
The simple difference was that the team had gone above and beyond in terms of acquiring legitimate backups at key positions. They had invested heavily into Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s development who was then able to fill in for Peters, they had signed a veteran back in LeGarrette Blount and a speedy UDFA in Corey Clement to fill in for Sproles, they had re-signed Steven Wisniewski who filled in for the before mentioned Seumalo at LG, and they of course signed Nick Foles to a two-year free agency contract.
Just like any other season, the Philadelphia Eagles were handed potential season-altering injuries in 2017. In fact, I would go as far as to say they were dealt worse injuries in 2017 then they have been in any year following. Losing your starting LT is enough to make any team fold in today’s NFL, and the team’s entire offensive gameplan was supposed to be oriented around Wentz’ and Sproles’ connection.
However, not only did the team survive the injuries, they thrived throughout them. Doug Pederson was able to plug and fill holes without missing a beat, due to the high quality of depth that he had been handed that season. Fast forward to 2020, he’s now stuck watching a UDFA guard get shredded while his team’s second and third round picks stand on the sidelines.
Despite his previous success in 2017, Howie Roseman has really dropped the ball the last few seasons in terms of acquiring depth behind his star players. 50% of his draft picks from 2016 to 2019 are no longer on the roster, and poorly designed contracts like the one he gave to Alshon Jeffery are preventing him from handing out free agent deals to backups on the open market.
There’s a very good chance the Philadelphia Eagles beat the LA Rams this weekend because Doug Pederson is a better coach than Sean McVay and Carson Wentz is a better QB than Jared Goff. However, one win doesn’t mask the irresponsible lack of depth that this team has employed over the last 2+ seasons. The Eagles are 9-10 since the “double doink”, and while it’s easy to pin that all on phantom injuries, you should probably start looking at the guys who are being called upon to fill in when said injuries occur…