Doug Pederson underlines why injuries remain Eagles’ greatest challenge in 2020

first_imgPhiladelphia did use “12 personnel” well to survive in the passing game last season, taking advantage of its tight end prowess with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to support Wentz in the short-intermediate passing game. But there’s no question the Eagles want to be more vertical to raise Wentz’s yards per attempt.In 2017, when the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl, they were highly effective in both pushing the ball downfield and pounding out a mighty running game. They need Jeffery and Jackson back healthy together to meet that first half of that goal. Already not having Brooks hurts them on the ground.Pederson’s Eagles still have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball to get them back into the playoffs. Offensive health, however, will once again be the major obstacle to clear to become true Super Bowl contenders. With Brooks expected to miss the entire season, the Eagles are left shuffling for answers in late June. Even the potential best option to slide inside to replace Brooks — rookie fourth-rounder Jack Driscoll, who played tackle at Auburn — is a major dropoff.”At this point, we’re still looking at a lot of options obviously, starting with our own roster and the guys that we have competing for those backup spots and possibly those starting spots,” Pederson said. “We obviously haven’t made any decisions. We’re going to take a look at a lot of scenarios, different possibilities. We’ve got some time before training camp to try to sort these things out.”Pederson was cautiously optimistic about Jeffery, but also admitted the team is putting no timetable on his return.MORE: Colin Kaepernick’s six best fits for a potential NFL return“He’s a big part of our offense and we do plan to have him in the offense at some point,” Pederson said. “But if there’s a couple games there where he’s not ready then, you know, we’re not going to put him out there and just wait for him to get healthy.”He’s a big part of our process moving forward and he’s a great leader and he’s going to be able to help the young players come along.”The varied injury statuses of both players are critical in different ways.The Eagles’ offensive line doesn’t have the same kind of depth with 2019 first-rounder Andre Dillard, who took some lumps as a rookie, replacing long-time left tackle Jason Peters, who was unsigned. They also lost valuable swing backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai to the Lions in free agency. Center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson remain the anchors for a front five in transition, but not having Brooks is an extra blow to the blocking cohesiveness to which Philadelphia is accustomed.Last season at wide receiver, with both Jeffery and DeSean Jackson (core muscle) going on the shelf, the Eagles got down to Greg Ward as the best option at the position for Carson Wentz. Given Jeffery is 30 with a history of soft issue injuries, there’s no certainty he can deliver the same previous impact as a big, all-around target.Jackson, 33, showed great speed in making big plays early his return to Philadelphia in 2019, but with his age and wear, it’s equally hard to rely on him to be the consistent big-play “Z” outside opposite Jeffery at the “X”.As for first-round rookie wideout Jalen Reagor, Pederson said he needed time to get up to speed behind Jackson to be counted on as big-play field-stretcher on the perimeter. Reagor also needs further development to be trust with routes in the slot.The Eagles do have another fast option in Marquise Goodwin, but he is coming off a season-ending knee injury with the 49ers. The Eagles need to see a lot more out of second-year player J.J. Arcege-Whiteside to feel better about Jeffery possibly needing to miss more time. Doug Pederson did a great job coaching the injury-riddled Eagles offense to another NFC East title in 2019. With fewer than three months left before the start of the 2020 season, his team is facing more key health concerns.Pederson, in a media session with Philadelphia reporters, lamented the loss of elite Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks, who suffered a torn left Achilles. He also admitted that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, recovering from a major foot injury (Lisfranc), may not be ready to play for the start of the season.last_img read more