Probably the biggest question on everyone’s lips right now is ‘What on earth has happened to the Philadelphia Eagles?’ The answer isn’t a simple one, but the ridiculous amount of injuries have played a monumental role in the team’s decline. What’s a little worrying is that there have been several reoccurring injuries this season, raising questions over what goes on behind the scenes.
A total of 25 Eagles have sustained an injury this season. The area most impacted by this worryingly high number is a secondary that at one point on Sunday didn’t have a single player on the field who had been on the team for more than three weeks. Cluster injuries are Football coaches worst nightmare, but when your entire secondary of starters is ripped off the field in just a few weeks, there’s bound to be question marks.
Sidney Jones made his return in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. After tripping and slipping on the opening drive, leading to a Saints touchdown, it was clear Jones had some rust to shake off and against Michael Thomas, that was always going to be tough. Later into the game, Jones was forced to leave early due to a…you guessed it, hamstring injury.
Pederson cited that Jones was 100% fully healed before making his return. It does seem peculiar that Jones would re-injure a fully healed hamstring within an hour of playing a competitive game, but maybe it was just a coincidence.
He wasn’t the only player in this scenario though. The Darren Sproles saga was perhaps the most notable. After missing every game after week one with a hamstring injury, the veteran running back was finally cleared to play two weeks ago. On his first practice back from injury, he re-injured the same hammy and has been out ever since.
Jeff McLane questioned this in today’s press conference but was met with a slightly combative response from Doug Pederson.
Q. So, when you point to injuries as being one of the reasons why you aren’t succeeding, obviously, a lot of them are just the cost of doing business and bad luck, et cetera. But there have been a number, again, that have been reoccurring or the same guys having the same injuries. When does it get to a point where you have to look at whether the medical staff is doing its job? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: So basically, when somebody has an ankle sprain, you want me just to shut them down for the year?
Q. I’m saying soft tissue. (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: No, that’s what you’re saying. That’s what you’re saying.
Q. I’m not saying anything. (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, you are.
Q. I’m saying when does it come to the point where you have to talk to the medical staff? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: I think I answered these questions last week. Listen, we make sure our players are one hundred percent. Now, ankle attached to the knee, attached to the hammy, attached to the quad, attached to the hip, all the way up the body. So, if you have an ankle sprain and you’re one hundred percent healed, right, what is your percent to have a reoccurring injury?
Q. Who has the ankle sprain? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: I’m talking about you. There is a chance for reoccurrence, right? That’s what I’m saying, right? There’s a chance that that could happen.
There are other examples too. Corey Clement’s injury troubled offseason has seemingly bled into the regular season, with the former UDFA missing two games with a quad injury and his play looking nothing like the running back we saw last season.
“Listen, we make sure our players are one hundred percent.” Pederson said after his exchange with McLane. “Now, ankle attached to the knee, attached to the hammy, attached to the quad, attached to the hip, all the way up the body. So, if you have an ankle sprain and you’re one hundred percent healed, right, what is your percent to have a reoccurring injury?
We’re looking into every soft tissue [injury]. In fact, I think we came out with some data last week, or maybe it circulated, I don’t know. Were you privy to that information? [I’d] Love to share it with you. But there’s no problem.”
It would be unfair to blame the medical staff for players suffering injuries, but their rehabilitation times and progress one certainly can. Two players who have been cleared to return to action have injured the same injury within a one game sample size, which is hardly a good look.
It’s also worrying that the entire secondary has now battled injury. Is there something connecting the dots?
The only thing I can think of is that the somewhat ‘lackadaisical’ efforts we’ve seen in recent weeks are causing mental errors. Missing tackles is one thing, that’s a fundamental. But if something as small as taking the right angle, initiating contact the right way, making sure you’re not overloading your planted foot when opening up your hips etc (I’m clutching at straws here), but the tiniest fundamental mistake could have severe repercussions, as we’ve come to see.
Maybe all of these injuries are coincidental. Cluster injuries happen, that’s why the term ‘cluster injuries’ exists to begin with. But maybe there is an extra step the medical staff, coaching staff or sports science employees could take a look into. There are simply too many correlated dots to not at least examine if there’s something more worrying going on behind the scenes.
No matter how you look at it or what the reason is, this team has been ravaged by injuries…but if there is a more serious concern, it has to be addressed. After all, accountability is such a huge focus for this team.
Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports