The Eagles Need a Big Game From the Backups. Are They Ready?

Jackson is out for 2 weeks it seems. Jeffery is out for 2 weeks or possibly will play hurt? No official update there. Jernigan most likely out 4 to 6 weeks or more. Malik Jackson is out for the year. Goedert is nursing the same calf injury from the preseason. If you’re keeping count that’s 2 starting WR’s, 2 DT’s and a TE. That doesn’t even touch on the starters still recovering from injuries but playing, the injured role players like Clement or the players who are still recovering from injuries sustained in the preseason.

The Eagles have got blasted with the injury bug and with two games in the next 9 days the timing just sucks. There is plenty to be thankful for, Wentz seems to be OK after dealing with some pain from taking some big shots in week two. We haven’t lost any CB’s or LB’s, where the talent level would be a significant drop-off and even though the OL isn’t playing up to their potential they are healthy and have the opportunity to continue to gel and work through their issues.

This isn’t the end of the world but the next few weeks could be rough if some Eagles role players aren’t quite ready to step up to the challenge.

WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Much is expected for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s future potential but I don’t think anybody was hoping that would come so soon. After having just a few snaps in week one, J.J. was thrust in to a starters role in week two, playing 75 snaps.

Unfortunately he wasn’t able to rise to the challenge, catching just one reception in just four targets. At one point last Sunday night, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was the number one receiver as Agholor was getting run through the concussion protocol (something to keep an eye on, Three Eagles were run through the protocol and all were cleared… shenanigans perhaps? Worth looking into if these things start to become a trend in other games. More on that later).

It was disappointing to not see J.J have a bit more success but the truth is he was running plays with Carson that they never practiced together before. Can they work that out during the week? If the focus is just running the plays in the game plan, maybe… but what happens when the game plan has to be adjusted? Can J.J. Arcega-Whiteside do better this time while learning on the fly?

I don’t doubt his effort or talent or his potential but that might not be enough to compensate.

WR Mack Hollins

After missing a very, very, very long time due to injury it was nice to see Hollins have a decent game when put into action. He was able to haul in 5 receptions on 8 targets for 50 yards and he came up clutch catching that miracle pass from Wentz. Good for Mack. He performed well.

Sadly that just may be his ceiling. If he is to have a large increase in reps we are really going to need to see more out of him. For as big as he is, he seems to find a way to disappear in the redzone and that is not a good sign.

For his career he has 21 receptions on 30 targets with a 13.1 yard average. Not terrible by any means but his one TD came on a bit of a fluke play which he showed good effort but ultimately it was more about poor tackling than anything he did.

I think Mack is a great number 4 or 5 WR with potential to be a number 3 on some teams but I hardly think he’s ready to take over Jackson or Jeffery’s duties. The drop off is very large here and the Eagles may not be able to overcome it.

WR Nelson Agholor

Though Agholor is a starter, I’m including him here because his targets are due to increase because he is now our most experienced WR. Nelson stepped up in a big way in week 2 catching 8 balls on 11 targets for 107 yards but those drops were heart wrenching.

Losing the go ahead for the win TD in the lights in inexcusable. The ball landed in his hands and he just couldn’t hold on to it. I know it’s harder than it looks but the fact is he had a chance right there to put the game away and couldn’t get it done. Does anyone think Jackson drops that pass?

I do feel Nelson will be ready this week. He will most likely be the focus of the game plan, as far as the WR’s go and will be getting a majority of the reps in practice. He has come up big for us before and after that drop, did almost make up for it by hauling in a long ball to get us in range for a last second TD that just never was.

If Nelson can have a big game, that should make things easier on the other two. This could really be a huge opportunity for Agholor. I’m betting he can have a good game.

DT Hassan Ridgeway

From after thought to starter, The injuries to Malik and Timmy have increased Ridgeway’s role to 53 snaps in the first 2 weeks. He is due to play even more in this coming month and longer. Acquired in a trade with the colts last April, the Eagles like his potential but it is all but unproven on the field.

Playing next to a still recovering Cox, who hasn’t quite looked like himself yet this year, won’t make things any easier. Not much to do here but pray. Can he have a great game? We have no idea.

DT Akeem Spence

Spence got 21 snaps against the Falcolns. The best thing I can say is I didn’t notice him, which for the 5th DT on the roster is a good thing. Save a spot in your prayers for Spence as well.

TE Alex Ellis

After having some nice moments in the preseason Alex Ellis was released only to be brought back this week. I don’t know how many snaps are in his future. I imagine Ertz will be receiving the bulk of snaps, if not all of them and we will be doing less if any 2 TE sets if Goedert can’t go.

Ellis looks to be there for an emergency situation in which Ertz goes down (while your praying throw some in for Ertz please) It remains to be seen what the Eagles plan is for him and if he can make plays against NFL starters in a non preseason game.

So, Oh Shit?

Maybe. I know I haven’t painted a very pretty picture here but all is not lost. This would be a great week to get the running game going. Howard, Sanders and Sproles are all quite capable as is our OL.

Wentz is great at putting balls in the right place even when the receiver is covered well and Big Balls Doug could come up with some great game plans.

If the DT’s can stick to thier gaps and get off some blocks that would go a long way. Don’t forget we also have Brandon Graham and Derrick Barnett. They can cause some issues for OL’s league wide. Cox is one more week recovered from injury, as is Darby who will be looking to have a better game.

Ertz has experience taking over games and did so for the majority of our wins last year. It doesn’t hurt that he is Wentz’s favorite target.

Injuries are always tough, having so many starters go down at once is tougher but there is a chance and young guys step up and play well every year.

But then again…

Things could go south very quickly. An injury to Agholor or Ertz would be devestating to the offenses production. An injury to Cox would really hurt our pass rush. Inexperience at WR could cause interceptions or lack of 3rd down production.

This is going to be put up or shut up time for a lot of bottom of the roster guys. I fully expect them to be coached up and ready to play. Lets hope they can rise to the challenge.

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