What Landon Dickerson’s absence would mean for the Eagles

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 05: Philadelphia Eagles guard Landon Dickerson (69) during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 5, 2021 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles announced on Sunday afternoon that rookie guard Landon Dickerson has been placed on the teams’ COVID reserve list. In another reality, Dickerson would’ve suited up for the Birds today in a matchup against Washington. In this universe, he could end up watching the game from the comfort of his own home on Tuesday night.

It’s easy for Philly to feel hard done by. Washington violated the NFL’s COVID procedures and ended up with a scary outbreak which saw 22 players sent to the reserve list just days before an NFL matchup. In the event they couldn’t field a team under this circumstance, they’d have forfeit the game. Instead, the NFL bent on their initial guidance and decided to reschedule the game instead. This was best for the safety of all players set to take the field, but the Eagles have lost a huge advantage here.

This game will have huge playoff implications given that both teams are tied on record for the final wildcard spot. With Washington getting healthier, any chance of a competitive edge has now gone, and the well-rested Birds will be put to the test three times in a twelve day stretch.

Landon Dickerson’s potential absence only twists the knife. The rookie guard has been an integral part of the league’s #2 ranked rushing offense (with a game in hand over Indianapolis). In fact, the Eagles became the first team to put up 175+ rushing yards six games on the bounce since 1985.

In pass-protection, Dickerson has been just as stellar. He’s allowed two sacks in 735 snaps at the left guard spot and while penalties hurt him early on, it’s important to remember that he missed all summer activities due to the rehabbing of his ACL. So no training camp, no OTA’s. Dickerson was dropped straight into live action and has not only kept his head above water, but paddled to safety and made it look easy.

As far as depth goes, Sua Opeta is the next man up. The ideal option would be to shift Nate Herbig to the left hand side, playing on his versatility, but that still exposes Opeta due to the lack of depth at the interior guard spot right now.

There was a real growing hope that Brandon Brooks could be ready to go this week, and if he is with the extra time, that would help the Eagles hugely. He’s been absent since the week 2 game against the Niners with a chest injury but very little has been said about his progress.

Brooks is among the NFL’s very best when healthy, but that last part has been his downfall. With a pair of torn Achilles over the past two years, Brooks has spent very little time on the field as a result. There’s no emergency to rush him back, but being able to tag out a rookie guard for a veteran who is as dominant as Brooks can be would be a swift shift in momentum.

There is a chance that Dickerson is able to play. He has until Wednesday to return from the list. WR Quez Watkins, for instance, was previously unable to play but is now able to suit up thanks to the delay.

It’s not all over yet. While it’s frustrating that Dickerson has landed on the reserve list, the Eagles do have options and his absence is not a definitive outcome. Here’s to hoping that he recovers quickly and no other players are effected in a window that would otherwise have not been relevant had it not been for the NFL’s incompetence.

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire