Slew of injuries aren't Doug Pederson's only concerns in loss to Falcons
The obvious storyline coming out of the Eagles’ 24-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night were the injuries, and it remains a storyline because head coach Doug Pederson did not have updates on any of them when he met with reporters on Monday.
“I have not had my medical meeting, yet,” said Pederson. “Getting back at 4 a.m. this morning and getting through the tape we haven’t had that yet, so I don’t have updates yet. We’ll have more later today.”
So mystery continues to surround the injuries to the Eagles' top two receivers, DeSean Jackson (groin), who saw just 11 plays, and Alshon Jeffery (calf), who could manage just six snaps, tight end Dallas Goedert (calf), who didn’t play at all, running back Corey Clement (shoulder), and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot).
VIDEO: Doug Pederson talks about injuries' impact on his game plan
Pederson said his fear is that the injury to Jernigan is the most severe of the bunch.
There was a report that indicated Jernigan had suffered a broken foot, but the break will not require surgery and Jernigan will miss four-to-six weeks. Jernigan is the team’s third best DT, and the Eagles already lost their second best defensive tackle, Malik Jackson, in the season opener.
The Eagles are now down to Fletcher Cox, who was limited in practice leading up to Sunday night’s game with a toe injury, Hassan Ridgeway and Akeem Spence, who was signed off the street just last week.
There is more to get to the bottom of than just injuries, though, such as slow starts, quarterback Carson Wentz’s long-term health, and the lack of a running game.
Slow starts continue to plague the Eagles. Last year they were dead last in first-quarter scoring, managing just 41 points in the game’s first 15 minutes. This year, they don’t have a single first-quarter point.
“I just have to find the magical plays,” said Pederson. “It’s always the plays. That’s on me. I have to do a better job.”
As for Wentz, the QB took a beating against Atlanta and had to briefly be removed from the game to be examined for a concussion.
On a weekend when two teams with playoff aspirations lost their quarterbacks, with New Orleans’ Drew Brees expected to miss six weeks after surgery on his thumb, and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger ruled out for the season after elbow surgery, Wentz’s health is even more in the spotlight.
“This is a physical, violent game, quarterbacks are going to get hit,” said Pederson. “It’s one thing you love about Carson is his toughness. You’d love to see him maybe throw the ball sooner here or there, but the fact that he performed well (Sunday) and really kept us in this football game, the throw to Mack (Hollins) in the fourth quarter (when Wentz got rid of the ball just before his knee touched the ground), was unbelievable.
“For him to escape the pocket like he did a couple times was unbelievable, and those are things you really can’t coach, you don’t teach those things, that’s just natural God-given instinct. It’s hard to take that away from a player, yet at the same time you still want him to protect himself the best he can, but he’s making plays for you and I’m not going to take that from him.”
Pederson also addressed the team’s lack of a run game and the lack of production rookie Miles Sanders is giving them.
The Eagles used just two running backs on Sunday, with Sanders getting 10 carries for 28 yards and Jordan Howard eight rushes for 18 yards.
“We struggled to run the ball, something we kind of pride ourselves on,” said Pederson. **“**Last week I might’ve mentioned we were going to face a much better Atlanta Falcons defense than we saw in week one.
“This is the NFL, a lot of pride on that side, and they’re well coached, so we knew that going into this football game. We were going to try the run, try to establish it, we struggled a little bit there, we had to make those corrections (due to the plethora of injuries) and that’s a big part, too with a lot of the personnel changes with tight ends that got us a little bit away from it.”
On Sanders, Pederson said: “I’m really confident in Miles I think the more opportunities he gets, he’ll get better. He missed some things. Young running back, missed a couple holes, couple of holding calls he tried to bounce outside and we got a couple holding calls which are going to happen.
“There are some things he can get better. But our confidence in him is extremely high and we’re going to continue to play him and get him reps.”