The Eagles suffered a couple of cruel blows in the Christmas Eve loss to the Cowboys. Lane Johnson went down with injury towards the end of the game, but the loss of nickel corner, Avonte Maddox, could be just as impactful moving forward.
Eagles lose Avonte Maddox to injury
The 26-year-old has missed 6 games this season already, but what’s being described as a substantial toe injury could keep him out for the entire playoff run. It’s important that the Eagles find a way to replace Avonte Maddox, so here’s a quick look at the options they have in house.
Josiah Scott is the most likely candidate to replace Avonte Maddox and is the man who relieved the Pitt product of his duties on Christmas Eve, to varying levels of success. He was debatably responsible for the gut-wrenching 3rd & 30 completion that changed the course of the game, as he was unable to get over the top of Hilton in what was in fairness, a poor Tampa-2 decision for the situation.
Scott has played in 39% of defensive snaps this season, largely playing in the slot role while Maddox was out with his first injury setback. He has 4 starts, 1 INT, 7 passes defensed, and 22 tackles. However, he’s allowed 27 receptions on 34 targets, with a PFF grade of 52.8. In comparison to Avonte Maddox who has allowed 33 receptions on 40 targets but has a PFF grade of 71.3, it’s clear there is an obvious drop in production.
Jonathan Gannon’s scheme has already drawn plenty of criticism this year, but Scott just doesn’t have the speed and twitch that Maddox does that allows him to thrive in the slot and allow Bradberry and Slay to play at their best. Whether or not they see Scott as a player strong enough to hold the fort in the postseason could well be a question with huge implications.
When CJGJ joined the Eagles, many were quick to question his ability to be plugged in at safety given that he’d spent the better part of 3 years working out of the slot in New Orleans. He was quick to prove those people wrong and quickly emerged as one of the top safeties in the league before a lacerated kidney landed him on injured reserve.
In his final season as a Saint, Gardner-Johnson gave up only 36 catches on 51 targets in the slot for a total of 386 yards, 1 touchdown, while picking off 3 passes and allowing a passer rating of just 71.5.
There’s been no word on his status and we shouldn’t assume he’d be ready to go this weekend, but if he was able to return in time for the playoffs, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson would be a clear upgrade over Josiah Scott.
The Eagles do have an undrafted rookie corner on their books who could be a nice plug-in option. Josh Jobe played 12 snaps against the Giants earlier this year, but has been used exclusively on special teams outside of that. If the Eagles do want to promote the growth of young talent, then it could be an opportunity for the former Bama corner to show what he can do.
However, Jobe had a knack for giving up a lot of penalties with the Crimson Tide and was very aggressive at the line, which can be both a blessing and a curse. He didn’t play in the slot at Alabama and while cross-training corners is important, this is an inopportune time to begin that process.
Everyone remembers Captain Cre’Von. His incredible interception against the Saints in the playoffs will live on as a play that convinced Eagles fans everywhere that a Super Bowl repeat was on the cards until that dream was heartbreakingly ripped away.
Strap was excellent during his time with the Eagles, but since then his career has been filled with setbacks. LeBlanc has spent time with the Pats, Texans, Dolphins, and most recently, the Raiders, before he was placed on IR in August and eventually released.
LeBlanc has the heart and physicality to be a much-needed presence in run-support, but he hasn’t suited up in nearly a whole year. The move would be a low-risk, high-reward level signing, but it may not be an avenue the team wishes to explore with playoffs around the corner and the stakes being so high.
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