The (13-2) Philadelphia Eagles are positioned for a deep playoff run this season. Injuries have come at the worst time for the NFC’s top-ranked team.
Jalen Hurts’ Shoulder Strain
Eagles MVP front running Quarterback Jalen Hurts is recovering from his right shoulder strain injury. Hurts injured his throwing shoulder in the week 16 win over the Chicago Bears. In Hurts’ absence, backup Quarterback Gardner Minshew started this past Saturday’s 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. While Minshew threw for over 300 yards with three total touchdowns, he also committed two costly turnovers en route to a Cowboys win on Christmas Eve.
While Philadelphia is optimistic that Hurts’ injury isn’t considered long-term, the immediate impact of his absence has already been felt. With the NFC’s number one seed set to square off with the New Orleans Saints this weekend, clinching the top spot in the NFC hangs in the balance. Should Hurts not be available to play, Minshew will get his second start of the season for the Eagles. One must think this Philadelphia squad will be rearing and ready to go following a tough loss on the road.
Lane Johnsons’ Abdominal Tear
While Minshew had to step up in a crucial game against a divisional opponent, so did backup Offensive Lineman Jack Driscoll. Driscoll will replace veteran Right Tackle Lane Johnson, who suffered an abdominal injury on Saturday. Johnson will have an MRI done this week to examine the extent of the injury. Regardless of the severity, the Eagles have already ruled out the 32-year-old linemen for the final two games of the regular season.
With Driscoll being looked at as the potential replacement in those final two games, other possibilities include former 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard or starting Left Tackle Jordan Mailata. Driscoll, originally a 2020 fourth-round pick, has started 14 career games for the Eagles in various spots along the offensive line. Furthermore, Driscoll is said to be a favorite of Offensive Line Coach / Run Game Coordinator Jeff Stoutland. Despite his overall success since being drafted by the Eagles, Driscoll is a downgrade to the likes of Johnson and looks to anchor the right side of the line until further notice.
Avonte Maddox’s Toe Injury
As we shift gears to the defense, Cornerback Avonte Maddox is again slated to miss time in Philadelphia. Maddox suffered a reported “significant toe injury” in the Christmas Eve loss to the Cowboys. Almost immediately following the injury to the former Pittsburgh Panther, Philadelphia could not stop a massive play for Dallas on 3rd down and 30. For most of the game, the Eagles were beaten time and time again in the slot, Maddox’s primary position.
In the aftermath of what appears to be a multi-week injury for Maddox, the next men up include Cornerbacks Josiah Scott, Zech McPhearson, and Josh Jobe. Scott has shown flashes this season but lacks overall consistency when lined up inside. McPhearon and Jobe have not hit the field much this season and project to play on the outside instead of the slot. On paper, Scott is penciled in to replace Maddox for the foreseeable future as the Eagles’ third CB option.
Other Key Contributors Still Recovering
With Hurts, Johnson, and Maddox banged up, other members of Philadelphia’s core talent are also on the shelf. First, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson continues to recover from a lacerated kidney suffered against the Green Bay Packers in week 12. Before Johnson’s untimely injury, he led the NFL in interceptions. In his absence, undrafted free agent Safety Reed Blankenship has played well.
Next, veteran pass-rusher Robert Quinn has missed four games as he recovers from a knee injury. The 33-year-old sack specialist had failed to make an impact for the Eagles upon the news of his injury. Thankfully for the Eagles, Defensive Ends Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham, along with defensive weapon Haason Reddick have been as advertised this season. Quinn was supposed to be an added depth piece to this talented roster following the loss of Defensive End Derek Barnett, but he’d yet to prove his value to the team.
Additionally, the Eagles are without Defensive Tackle Marlon Tuipulotu as he recovers from a torn meniscus suffered in the 32-21 loss against the Washington Commanders in week ten. The Eagles looked to free agency via veteran Defensive Tackles Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh to stop the run with the losses of Quinn and Tuipulotu. Even with these key losses along the line due to injury, Philadelphia leads the league in sacks with 61 heading into week 17.
Wrapping Things Up
As the Philadelphia Eagles sit just one win away from the number one seed in the NFC, they’ve encountered some tough luck with injuries. Hurts is on track to miss his second straight game with his nagging shoulder injury. Veteran Right Tackle Johnson will miss an extended period with his abdominal tear. Maddox is also slated to miss a lengthy amount of time as he works back from a toe injury.
All in all, Philly cannot afford any other injuries to its key players heading into the playoffs. At this point in the year, opposing teams are looking to remain as healthy as possible. The Eagles will have to lean on backups and veterans to carry them for the remaining two games of the regular season. Look for the Eagles to clinch the top seed in the NFC as quickly as possible, with their first chance coming this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.