With rain pouring down, receivers going out and playoff fate in the balance on Monday against the Giants, Doug Pederson’s offense called on the likes of Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz to line up at wide receiver. Backup quarterback and high school coach Josh McCown was even ready to step in.
In the end, the Eagles, clipped as though their wings may well have been, prevailed with a 23-17 overtime win over the Giants. Ertz began the game-winning sequence lined up wide to the right before motion brought him closer to the line ahead of him finding space for a two-yard, game-winning touchdown reception in overtime.
“I look at it as nine bodies, with tight ends, runners and receivers, so we have everything covered that way,” Pederson told reporters Friday, via team transcript. “We have a plan to the plan to the plan to the plan if we lose a guy during the course of the game. It’s where we are right now as a team, as an offense.”
Hence, the likes of Ertz and fellow tight ends Dallas Goedert and Josh Perkins had to adapt and might well have to do the same on Sunday, whether it’s lining up on the line, out wide, in the slot or anywhere else.
Pederson, a former backup quarterback, who coached the Eagles to their only Super Bowl crown with backup QB Nick Foles winning Super Bowl MVP, is very much a believer in the next-man-up theory. But even he admits the injuries have been borderline ridiculous this season.
“Obviously injuries are a part of the game,” Pederson said. “You never know when or how injuries are going to affect, one, your team and/or a position group. That’s why it goes back to, for us as coaches, it’s why you have to coach everybody. You never know when a guy might miss the season or just a few games, and you have to get the next guy ready to play.
“In our case [with our top three receivers of Jackson, Jeffery and Agholor injured] you sit back and go, well, not going to make any excuses for it, but gosh, only if, only if.”
Only if they were healthier, perhaps their playoff prognosis would be a healthier one, too.
The team has promoted wide receiver Robert Davis from the practice squad to the active roster, just like Ward before him, and signed wide receiver Deontay Burnett to the practice squad — who at this rate could be in the starting lineup in Week 16.
“I’m focused on the guys that are out there and getting them better because we still have three games, three weeks, and a lot ahead of us,” Pederson said.
On Sunday, the Eagles will continue their season-long battle of attrition against themselves and the Redskins, leaving the what-if quandaries for later, because they’re still vying for an NFC East championship.