“Now it’s the same.Old song. but with a different meaning, since you’ve been gone.” The classic Four Tops hit might be the best way to describe the state of the Philadelphia Eagles. The injury bug has once again infested the locker room and this year it has targeted the defense.
Just two games into the season, the Eagles have lost stud defensive end Jevon Kearse for the season while the secondary find themselves already decimated by injuries.
Lito Sheppard, an All-Pro cornerback two years ago, sprained his ankle in the first series of the season opener. Backup Rod Hood left at halftime last week with a heel strain. Both were doubtful for Sunday’s game at San Francisco.
With that, our reliable secondary has become another variable. The guys filling in for the injured Sheppard and Hood have credentials that sound right out of the movie “The Replacements.” One cornerback wasn’t in the NFL last year. Another has never played in a game. The nickelback didn’t even make the original roster.
The new starting cornerback is Joselio Hanson, who wasn’t even in the NFL last year. Hanson spent last season with Frankfurt of, gulp, NFL Europe.
Dexter Wynn, a sixth-round pick in 2004, who was among the final cuts after playing two seasons with the Eagles, would take over in nickel situations. Wynn had his moment in the sun last season when he returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Chargers. However, he’s remembered as a mediocre player at best. Imagine that phone call to Wynn, “Oh, hey Dexter. You remember that whole ‘You’re cut’ thing we talked about before. yeah, we were just kidding about that.”
Dustin Fox, who spent last year on injured reserve with Minnesota, was promoted from the practice squad to be the fourth cornerback.
Last year, fans were inclined to believe that the Eagles’ defensive woes were due to a lack of a pass rush enabling opposing quarterbacks to take their time and eventually find a receiver. However, Eli Manning was able to pick the secondary apart despite getting sacked eight times in the week two game against the Giants. The pass rush has dramatically improved exposing secondary as the weakness.
Luckily, the Eagles boast one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. Michael Lewis and Brian Dawkins have both played well so far this season, and we’ll give Lewis a mulligan for not falling on the Amani Toomer fumble in the Giants game that turned into a devastating touchdown for the bad guys.
Fluke touchdowns and constant injuries makes every week feel like the Eagles are getting attacked in Electronic Talking Battleship. Can’t you hear the robot voice? “Jevon Kearse, HIT. Battleship sunk!”
We’re crossing our fingers and praying that this is not just the beginning of yet another season on crutches for the Eagles. We’re hoping against hope that the other key components stay healthy and pick up the slack for the hurt starters.
“Other guys have to pick it up. Hopefully we get a good pass rush and other guys make plays. We’re not making excuses. We’re not fretting about it,” said defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.
Johnson may not be fretting, but Eagles fans certainly are.