Every few plays or so it seemed the Eagles had someone limping off the Superdome turf on Sunday.
Nothing new there; the Eagles have been destroyed by injury this season. In their lopsided loss to the New Orleans Saints, it was more of the same for the embattled Birds.
The Eagles, though, may have caught a break by escaping season-ending injuries to several players that went to the sideline never to be seen again as the blowout progressed.
Five starters left the game early in New Orleans.
Perhaps the most serious injuries were to linebacker Jordan Hicks and cornerback Sidney Jones, both of whom were described as week-to-week by head coach Doug Pederson when he met with reporters on Monday afternoon.
Hicks had played every single snap for the Eagles this season, but that run will likely come to an end on Sunday when the Eagles return to the NFC East to host the New York Giants. The nature of his injury wasn’t revealed by Pederson.
Jones appears to have another hamstring issue. It was a hamstring that sidelined him for three straight games until being given the OK to return against the Saints.
Pederson said that this latest hamstring is a new injury and not related to the one that kept him out. Jones is becoming a health liability. He missed all but the final game of his rookie season while rehabbing from a torn Achilles suffered at his Pro Day preparing to enter the draft out the University of Washington. Now, he has been unable to stay healthy this year.
The other injured players include long snapper Rick Lovato, who is in concussion protocol, cornerbacks Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas, and center Jason Kelce.
Pederson said Maddox and Douglas are day-to-day, and Kelce is fine.
Kelce was done after just six snaps and replaced by Stefen Wisniewski, who gave up a critical sack on a third-and-three play just inside New Orleans territory when the game was still competitive. Wisniewski also had a poor snap that quarterback Carson Wentz was unable to handle.
Losing three cornerbacks, however, forced the Eagles to lay three corners who weren’t even on the roster three weeks ago: Cre’Von LeBlanc (44 snaps; 63 percent), Chandon Sullivan (26 snaps) and De’Vante Bausby (24 snaps).
Last year, the Eagles were hit with a heavy dose of injuries as well, but overcame them to win Super Bowl LII. This year, they haven’t been able to have the same success.
“The injuries last year were like one guy at a position,” said Pederson. “This has devastated almost an entire position group, which is different. Last year it was (OT) Jason Peters, (RB) Darren (Sproles), (S Chris) Maragos, Hicks. It was one guy kind of around the roster, and we had enough depth in there to overcome it. This is kind of attacking one position group, especially the secondary. So we just have to find a way.”
It hasn’t been easy to say the least. Sitting at 4-6, it appears now as if quarterback Carson Wentz is pressing, perhaps trying to do much, especially early in games. Slow starts have plagued the Birds this season, with just 21 points scored in the first quarter through 10 games.
Wentz had his second career three-interception day on Sunday. His last one came as a rookie when he threw three picks in Cincinnati on Dec. 4, 2016. He did not throw a touchdown pass against the Saints. The last time that happened was also his rookie year, Dec. 18 in Baltimore. He had thrown at least one TD in 22 straight games since then.
“We just get back to trusting the offense, let the offense work for you, things like that,” said Pederson. “As our conversations go throughout the week, don't feel like you've got to make every play. Use the guys around you, trust the run game. All those things that we talk about, play-action pass, things that have been successful for us are things that are a good formula to us winning games.”
PLAYER NOTES: Receiver Golden Tate played twice as many snaps in his second game as an Eagle, logging 36 of them against the Saints (71 percent). He was the team’s leading receiver, though, that isn’t saying much since the Eagles had just 196 yards of total offense. Still, Tate was targeted eight times, catching five passes for 48 yards.
With the addition of Tate, the role of rookie tight end Dallas Goedert continues to decrease. He played 18 snaps in Tate’s Eagles debut last week, but on Sunday that total dipped to 16. He was targeted only once against the Saints and he has not caught a pass now in two straight games.
Slowly but surely, undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams is becoming the Eagles’ lead back. He played significantly more snaps (28) than Corey Clement (14) and Wendell Smallwood (4). Adams was one of the few bright spots on Sunday, galloping 28 yards for his first career touchdown – and the Eagles’ lone touchdown in the game and finished with 53 yards on seven carries (7.6 yards per carry). Clement had just two carries; Smallwood only one.
Safeties Corey Graham and Malcolm Jenkins led the Eagles in tackles against the Saints, with nine each. Hicks had seven before departing with his injury.
The Eagles did not register a sack against Drew Brees and only rookie Josh Sweat recorded a quarterback hit. Wentz, on the other hand, was sacked three times, and hit five times.