Do the Eagles have an authority problem when it comes to injuries?

NFL: SEP 20 Rams at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 20: Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson looks on during the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles have a lot of problems this season. Quarterbacking, coaching, execution on all counts, you name it, the Eagles are probably struggling with it and are rightly being scrutinized. One thing that hasn’t come up in discussions much yet, however, is authority.

There are a lot of different ways you could interpret this. Perhaps it’s the idea that Carson Wentz has regressed because his QB Coach, Press Taylor, isn’t pushing him hard enough. Maybe it’s the rumors that Howie Roseman has more pull on the gameday roster than fans would expect. That could all be relevant, but for this example, I’m talking specifically about injuries.

We all remember the 2019 season. One of the biggest storylines of all surrounded DeSean Jackson and his mysterious injury. 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. He then missed the remainder of the season and required surgery – something he initially declined and led to the re-aggravation against Chicago.

Unfortunately, Jackson isn’t the only player to suffer this fate. Jordan Howard’s ‘stinger’ injury made Pederson’s usage of the term ‘day-to-day’ a running joke and it became clear that the mishandling of injuries spanned numerous medical staffs. That hasn’t changed.

Lane Johnson spoke to reporters today via zoom, expressing that he’s done for the season due to an ankle injury. Johnson had played in 407 snaps this year, but has only played a full game twice all season. He somehow allowed just one sack in that time and played at a high level, but anybody could see he hadn’t fully recovered from the surgery he had this past offseason. The red flags were flying when he started being pulled from games on a regular basis and while nobody can doubt his heart or toughness, it just felt like the team were playing with fire. It turns out they were.

It hampered his play last season too, but Johnson refused to have surgery until it came to a close. Tempting fate once more, the Franchise Tackle simply didn’t have the strength to do so in 2020. His ankle is ‘in a mess’ in his own words and the surgery will leave him with a 4-5 month recovery time.

Obviously, we don’t know how Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles this offseason during a closed team activity, but knowing how relentless he was to get back on the field last year after an identical injury, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine him pushing his own physical limits before suffering heartbreak.

There’s a pattern emerging here though and it’s a worrying one. Somewhere along the line, there is a disconnect between players, medical staff, and the coaches. Whether it’s a pride thing from a players perspective, total incompetence by the medical staff, or desperation from the coaches, players who have suffered significant injuries are constantly being thrust back into the firing line before they’re 100%.

Football is a contact sport and injuries happen. Everyone plays hurt. There’s a difference between playing hurt and being unable to buckle your chinstrap as Jason Kelce struggled to do last week and being allowed to go back out there knowing that you might not only hurt the team but also yourself.

Jason Kelce seemed adamant he was going back out onto the field for the second half of last week’s embarrassing Eagles loss to the Browns, and that’s where the problem lies. It’s down to the Head Coach to use his better judgement in those instances, and he’s clearly not doing so – a theme for the year.

If Pederson is unable to stand up and say ‘no’ to an injured Eagles player who insists on participating, who then goes on to further injure themselves, then there absolutely needs to be an intervention because this cannot and will not end well. It’s no longer about wins and losses, it’s about the wellbeing of players.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire