PHILADELPHIA – Nick Sirianni turned up to his Friday press conference, adorned in a “Turnover T-Shirt,” the brainchild of the defensive coaching staff in an effort to express how important the double-positive is when it comes to winning football games.
The version Sirianni had on was Avonte Maddox sinking into zone coverage and leaping in front of Adam Thielen to intercept a Kirk Cousins pass in Week 2.
After Sirianni’s presser, the Eagles bussed over to Lincoln Financial Field to get it one last practice before Doug Pederson’s return Sunday as the coach of the improved Jacksonville Jaguars. Maddox was not participating after rolling his ankle at Thursday’s practice, according to a team source.
By the late afternoon, Maddox was one of two Eagles, along with running back Boston Scott (rib), ruled out by the Eagles, a 180 to the double-positive of the turnover.
Being without Maddox vs. Jacksonville is a double-negative because not only is Philadelphia going to be without one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL but it’s against a team with one of the better flex receivers in Christian Kirk, who has been one of Trevor Lawrence’s top threats with three touchdowns.
How the Eagles go about replacing Maddox is also going to be interesting because there are at least three paths that could be in play.
The most obvious with the fewest moving parts is inserting Maddox’s perceived backup, Josiah Scott, who is almost a doppelganger for teh starter when it comes to physical traits.
Scott was cross-trained at safety in training camp and is also one of the team’s best coverage players in special teams. He’s played in all three games during the 3-0 start but has only gotten nine snaps on defense, all in the Week 2 blowout against Minnesota.
Door No. 2 could be moving the top backup CB, second-year man Zech McPhearson, inside. Typically the top reserve for both Darius Slay and James Bradberry outside, more than one personnel evaluator thought McPhearson’s natural position was in the slot. A Texas Tech product via Penn State, McPhearson has gotten 28 defensive reps over the past two weeks.
The final option could be moving Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from free safety down to the slot and inserting backup safety K’Von Wallace opposite Marcus Epps on the back end.
That might be too much movement for Jonathan Gannon and Dennard Wilson but the argument would be that CGK excelled in New Orleans as a slot CB and he has struggled early at safety after being acquired late in the summer from the Saints. Inarguably, Gardner-Johnson would be regarded as the second-best slot CB on the roster behind Maddox. Furthermore, Wallace has an intimate knowledge of Lawrence’s skill set from their time together as teammates with Clemson.
Gannon tends to err on the side of caution so perhaps Scott gets an early opportunity and if Kirk starts to heat up adjustments are made from there.