The odds may seem to be in favor of the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of their week three matchup at home against the Giants and their struggling Offense, but for them to take full advantage of a weakened New York side, they will have to overcome a huge injury setback.
The Secondary has taken a monster hit. Not only did the Eagles lose Ronald Darby in week one, but the showdown against Kansas City did anything but stop the bleeding. Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, and Jaylen Watkins all suffered injuries in week two with Watkins and Graham officially inactive this weekend. Rodney McLeod remains questionable, but the impact is still heavy.
This led to the Birds’ bringing in former Bills Safety and perennial special teamer, Trae Elston…but with a light cornerback corps and only Malcolm Jenkins remaining of the four Defense-playing Safeties, the Eagles are at a crossroads with a dangerous WR tandem on the horizon.
“Every team goes through injury.” Doug Pederson told the media today. “Every team goes through game-time decisions, especially now we’re in Week 3 and it’s going to happen in Week 4 and the rest of the season. The psyche is you’ve just got to make sure that all the guys, the whole team is on [the same] page, not just one side of the ball or the other because it does and it can affect not only offensively, defensively, but it can affect special teams.”
The Eagles escaped preseason largely unscathed, but the Secondary is now on its last legs and with questions hovering over the left guard spot that remain unanswered, all it takes is one ounce of uncertainty to change the outcome of a game.
If McLeod is declared inactive on Sunday, only Chris Maragos and Elston will be available at their native positions. Maragos is a special teams captain who rarely sees time on Defense, and Elston saw his first taste of NFL action with the Bills in the opening two weeks of the season, playing in 30 special teams snaps prior to being waived. Even if all three safeties limp into action, the cornerbacks will undoubtedly be facing more pressure with less of a lifeline over the top.
Jalen Mills is no stranger to Odell Beckham Jr after last season, and while Rasul Douglas may have impressed in his debut, facing Brandon Marshall is a completely different task. The Giants Offense has its back to the wall, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a group of receivers that talented who simply have to come out swinging against a secondary teetering on the edge.
Chance Warmack saw some starting reps at left guard this week, leading many to believe that Doug Pederson has already chosen who will start on the offensive line, something he refused to declare on Friday. Destiny Vaeao’s injury on Defense may see Elijah Qualls see more action, while the cornerback rotation could see Dexter McDougle featured more prominently in the secondary.
The natural answer across the board is simply “next man up”. It’s a mentality embedded deep into the team and one that will be relied upon this weekend. Whether it’s in the secondary or deciding who starts up front, everyone needs to be ready.
“Well, I think this D-line is big and stout and physical. Pederson told reporters. “They definitely have prided themselves in that. For us it’s just a matter of getting all our guys ready. It’s the battle that we have to face going into this game, and it’s every week facing this type of a battle. Whoever is in there will be ready to go.”
Before the Eagles defeat the Giants, they have to defeat the injury bug and work out how best to fill out a depleted secondary and what works best on the offensive line. Chance Warmack signed an extension before even playing a snap for the Eagles but is yet to even be listed as active. There will be some tough decisions to be made, decisions that Pederson ensures will be made on gameday. All fans can really hope for is that they’re the right ones.
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