Far bigger than a loss at Dallas is the attrition that the 13-2 Eagles suffered against the Cowboys on Christmas Eve with two key starters expected out for the rest of the regular season in which Philadelphia still has to either win one of its final two home games against New Orleans and the New York Giants or have Dallas lose one to clinch the NFC East.
The same applies to the No. 1 seed in the conference with Minnesota added to the mix next to the Cowboys in needing to lose one of its final two if the Eagles do lose out.
Philadelphia (13-2) has been the NFL’s best team for the entire season but the injury bug has arrived at the worst time. Already without MVP candidate, Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia will now be finishing the regular season minus Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson and starting slot cornerback Avonte Maddox for the foreseeable future.
At the bare minimum, both players are likely done for the final two games with the hope that each can return for the playoffs which should start for the Eagles the weekend of Jan. 21 and 22 unless the team implodes over the final two weeks coupled with the Vikings and/or Cowboys winning out.
A report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that an MRI revealed that Johnson suffered a torn tendon in the abdominal area in Saturday’s 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Meanwhile, NFL Media called Maddox’s toe injury “significant,” and noted that the cornerback will be out indefinitely.
“We probably think they’ll miss a little bit of time, but we’ll never put a timetable on anybody,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s early on in the process here, too, with these guys, so [we] want to get some more information back. But kind of looking that way, but we’ll see, and we’ll see the severity and how long it will be.
“As far as [QB] Jalen [Hurts], we’ll see. One day at a time here. We know how much he wanted to play last week and how much he did to get his body ready. Again, with Jalen his body heals different than yours and mine, right? He’s going to do everything he can do to get himself healthy. If he’s healthy, he’ll play.”
Jack Driscoll finished for Johnson in Dallas while Josiah Scott replaced Maddox and each of those players has typically been the top backup at RT and the slot when bodies were needed.
The Eagles have other options as well, though, and could move parts around if the injuries are deemed serious enough.
On the offensive line, 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard could be inserted at left tackle while Jordan Mailata shifts to RT while the potential return of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from a lacerated kidney could have Jonathan Gannon mulling playing him in the slot, which he did in New Orleans prior to being acquired by the Eagles, or in a hybrid role that Maddox had been playing, safety in the base defense before moving to the slot when a third CB is needed.
The Eagles could start Gardner-Johnson’s 21-day practice window this week but Nick Sirianni noted his injury is a little more complicated and back and white medical tests will determine that fate.
Johnson’s loss can’t be understated. A player Nick Sirianni has called the “best right tackle in the world” on multiple occasions, Johnson has not allowed a sack in a record number of snaps that have nearly reached 1,000 when he shut out Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence on Saturday. More so, the Eagles are 72-44-1 when Johnson plays and are well underwater at 12-20 when he does not.
On the record, Sirianni said that the Eagles are still evaluating things with Johnson and Maddox and stuck to his policy of not addressing timetables, something that has been his standard operating procedure.