Can you name a more iconic duo than the Eagles and bizarre handling of injuries? The short answer is no, for anyone wondering. It seems that every season, the team’s medical staff comes under fire and it’s followed by an offseason of change, only for yet more puzzling situations to occur. But 2019 might have opened a whole new kettle of fish.
The Eagles placed LB Kamu Grugier-Hill on injured reserve on Wednesday and posted the following announcement:
This seems understandable, but then NJ.Com’s Mike Kaye cited something interesting:
On the surface, this may seem like an Agent’s attempt to try and present as much information as possible, realizing that his client is a pending free agent at the end of the season and this injury couldn’t come at a more hurtful time, but then you have to remember that Steve Caric also represents Zach Ertz, who is arguably next-in-line for a huge contract extension. There’s no way that Caric would release this kind of statement that could perceptively paint the Eagles in a negative light, burning some leverage in those future negotiations, without a very valid reason.
This also follows a similar pattern, does it not?
Let me cast your minds back to October. Sidney Jones was enduring a rough patch of play and reportedly dealing with a hamstring injury. Some felt this was used as an excuse for his poor production, others felt differently. But when asked about the situation, Doug Pederson had an interesting response:
“In any athlete, not just Sidney, but in any athlete’s case, that is the case. We need to get them out on the practice field. We have to push them as coaches just a little bit. Not risk further injury. We’re not going to do that.
But get them to feel comfortable and confident that everything is okay, and once they push past that barrier then we’re good, and then they learn to play that way, they learn practice that way. I think that’s why guys like [RB] Darren Sproles, [T] Jason Peters, [C Jason] Kelce, [DT] Fletcher Cox, [S] Malcolm Jenkins, guys that have played for a long time, they have been able to do that, and you learn that at an early age, early in your career, and it just gives you confidence moving forward.”
Malcolm Jenkins then had this indirect shot to fire and before you know it, Jones went from week 8-14 without playing a single snap.
Then, there’s the DeSean Jackson situation.
After a stunning season opener where he recorded 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the veteran would then miss the next seven games with an abdominal injury. Details were kept to a minimum and the hope was that he would return again long before the season ends.
Jackson played 4 snaps and caught a single pass before being pulled from the team’s week 9 win over the Chicago Bears as a precaution. Doug Pederson spoke to reporters the next morning and said the following when asked about the decision to play him:
“A little bit, but as I said after the game, and I think with [94WIP Morning Show Host] Angelo [Cataldi] this morning, he did feel some discomfort when he was in there. So, really for precautionary measures, we decided to keep him out, evaluate him and we are still gathering some more information on him. Obviously, this is our bye week, so we are going to get all the information and see where we are at with him.
It turns out that Jackson would need surgery for the injury and he opted against having it earlier in the season. This article really doesn’t need to hinge on ‘ifs, buts and maybes’, but had Jackson made the decision to have surgery at the time of the injury, this story would carry a lot less weight.
Do I dare mention Jordan Howard’s stinger that has kept him out since the win over the Chicago Bears? A stinger injury that has forced the running back to miss five weeks of play.
How about the ‘Lisfranc’ problem that’s ravaging the team. Cre’Von LeBlanc, Jalen Mills, and Alshon Jeffery have had Lisfranc related issues in the last 12 months and conveniently, that’s flown massively under the radar.
The Eagles already remolded their medical staff one year ago, and truthfully, I don’t think they’re to blame at this stage. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere along the line from:
player to medical staff,
medical staff to coach,
coach to player,
player to coach,
coach to media.
One of those links is broken. The ‘day-to-day’ and ‘trending in the right direction’ comments are beginning to lose weight when reporters ask for updates and it has to be more than a coincidence that at-least three players have had to ‘play through pain’ this season. Alshon Jeffery is arguably another.
If it’s a case of coaches wanting to squeeze every last bit of juice from their players, that needs looking at. If it’s players refusing to swallow pride and accept time away may be the smartest option, that needs examining. And if it’s on the medical staff for a third year in a row after two previous seasons of misdiagnosed injuries, complaints from former players, and an injury report as long as a book in the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series, then there has to be a much bigger discussion.
There’s clearly something much bigger going on here than just a constant slew of Eagles players picking up injuries.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports