The Eagles have been ravaged by injury this season, that much is clear. Whether it’s the carryover of a taxing Super Bowl winning season that meant players like Alshon Jeffery and Carson Wentz would miss the opening portion of the year, or the venom injected deep into the veins of the team and took no mercy in sidelining countless players, it hasn’t been an easy year by any means. But at some point, the fingers have to be pointed at the medical staff.
According to a report from Zach Berman, starting cornerback Jalen Mills, who suffered a ‘foot sprain’ in the team’s week 8 win over the Jaguars, has been absent ever since. That game was October 28th. Over a month later, the Eagles have reportedly determined that he won’t be fit by the end of the season.
Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills is not expected to be able to return to this season, according to a league source. He’ll likely be placed on injured reserve.
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) December 8, 2018
As for what this means for the secondary, well, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones, two young corners who have also battled injury this year, will be the starting corners outside, while it’s assumed that either Cre’Von LeBlanc or Avonte Maddox will take nickel responsibilities. This is certainly less than ideal for a secondary that has been standing on its last legs for around a month or so now and struggling in the weeks before, but it’s just the latest in a long line of problems.
The question we should be asking is ‘why wasn’t this realized sooner?’
Let’s roll back a few weeks to the Darren Sproles situation. Missing 11 weeks with a reported ‘hamstring sprain’, Sproles was kept on the roster and not designated an IR spot in a time of dire need. The Eagles were hurting badly on both offense and defense and as opposed to using that spot to bring in some reinforcements, they kept Sproles on the 53. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but upon his first practice back with the team, he re-injured the same injury and was sidelined again. He would make his eventual return on Monday Night, but the Eagles negligence to free up that roster spot for a few weeks stung them in the long run.
Then, there’s Jay Ajayi, who tore his ACL earlier in the year but was somehow deemed healthy enough to re-enter the game and played through the entire second half with a torn knee ligament. That is absolutely ridiculous and how that decision was made, I’ll never know. I can’t say I’ve ever torn my ACL, but I can’t exactly imagine it being the easiest pain to hide. It’s not like Carson Wentz where he finished the drive (one more play) and then went off the field, this was an entire half of play.
What about Derek Barnett? The second-year defensive end played two weeks with a lingering shoulder injury that was later established to be a torn rotator cuff, ending his season.
If that’s still not enough, the Eagles medical staff also failed to accurately treat Jordan Matthews during his first stint with the team. In an interview last offseason, Matthews opened up about the months prior to his trade and what changed when he arrived with his new team.
“I think the worst and most frustrating thing about the whole situation was, when I got to Buffalo, I was still dealing with the things that I had to get surgery on,” Matthews. “But I had two really bad diagnoses on the knee and the ankle, so going into the trade, I thought they were both things that were going to heal on their own. But once I got around Buffalo’s doctors, they got me in touch with the right people and then I got really good feedback.
“We ended up finding out there were other things that I was dealing with, so the thumb was definitely upsetting, the chest was upsetting. But what’s crazy was when they ended up doing my surgery on my knee, they actually told me that, ‘Man, it’s a good thing that you didn’t play more games, you didn’t practice more, because you needed to come here and get this procedure done as soon as possible.’ So, if anything, it was a blessing in disguise. I don’t regret any of the times that happen. I think it honestly has just made me a stronger person, it’s going to make me a better player.”
Doug Pederson was very defensive when asked about a potential investigation into how the medical staff conduct things earlier this year.
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.
Q. So you guys have no problem? Everything’s going well upstairs? You guys aren’t even looking into this? You don’t think there’s anything wrong with what’s going on medically? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: 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.
At some point, the rose tinted glasses have to be removed. There have been one too many ‘misdiagnoses’ or peculiar decisions that have ended up hurting a player’s ability to return to the field. If the Eagles aren’t at least taking a closer look at every scenario, then something isn’t right. This has been a problem for too long now and there doesn’t seem to be a trust in arguably the most important back-of-house employees on the team; those responsible for the wellbeing of the players.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports