Plenty of reasons to be concerned about Tim Jernigan situation

Plenty of reasons to be concerned about Tim Jernigan situation

These days, for an Eagles reporter, seeing Tim Jernigan at the NovaCare Complex is akin to spotting a Sasquatch.

Jernigan is on the Non-football Injury list after having offseason surgery for a herniated disk, so he hasn’t yet been cleared to practice. But after the injury, that reportedly happened during a workout, and the surgery that followed and his agreeing to a significant pay cut that basically wiped out an extension he signed during last season, this entire Tim Jernigan saga is still very much shrouded in mystery. 

And it seems like there’s plenty of reason to be concerned. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson did nothing to alleviate that concern Saturday morning, when he was asked if he’s still counting on Jernigan for this season and gave a less-than-reassuring response. 

“I think so,” Pederson said. “Yeah, again, he's another one that we've just got to be diligent with. Obviously, with the [back] and everything, we've got to be careful.”

If you were listening live to Pederson’s press conference, he actually said “neck” instead of “back,” which would have been news. But a team spokesperson said the head coach simply misspoke. 

Either way, there are serious questions about Jernigan’s status as the season opener looms, less than six weeks away. If Jernigan is transferred from the Active/Non-football Injury list to the real list before the start of the season, he would be forced to miss at least the first six weeks of the season. That definitely doesn’t seem far-fetched. In fact, it seems more likely with every passing day. 

Again, Pederson’s answer about Jernigan’s recent activity left plenty of questions about whether or not Jernigan will be able to avoid that fate:

He's inside. He's rehabbing. He's around in the afternoons in meetings. He's at the walkthroughs. He's with his position. So him and Brandon Graham are both — you don't see Tim out here as much based on we just don't want him getting banged around on accident or something like that. He's doing everything inside with the meetings, he's sticking around with his walkthroughs, and he's getting all the mental reps right now.

That doesn’t seem encouraging. Closing in on five weeks to the start of the season and the Eagles won’t even allow Jernigan outside for fear that someone could bump into him. Hard to imagine Jernigan going from that to bull-rushing offensive guards on Sept. 6 or anytime soon after. 

With Jernigan out during the first four days of training camp, Destiny Vaeao has been lining up next to Fletcher Cox with the starting defensive line. Vaeao, 24, came to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent before the 2016 season and seems to be well-liked by the coaching staff. He’s solid, dependable. But he’s not nearly as disruptive as Jernigan has shown he can be. 

Beyond Vaeao, the Eagles also have former All-Pro Haloti Ngata, who has been working with the second-string defensive line so far during camp. Ngata is completely healed from a biceps injury that ended his 2017 season in Detroit early, but it’s fair to wonder if the Eagles can really ask the 34-year-old to be more than a rotational player. 

After Vaeao and Ngata, the Eagles have more questions marks. Elijah Qualls is an unproven second-year player. Aziz Shittu has shown flashes. And the Eagles can sometimes move Michael Bennett or Brandon Graham inside and they probably will in pass-rushing situations. 

Still, the best possible thing is getting Jernigan back on the field as soon as possible. It just seems like it isn’t all that likely. 

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Doug Pederson is right — 7 points was worst part of blowout loss to Saints

Doug Pederson is right — 7 points was worst part of blowout loss to Saints

The score is still shocking to see on paper — 48-7. 

You’ve heard all about it over the last day. It’s the worst loss a defending champion has ever suffered. It’s the sixth-worst loss in franchise history. It’s a final score you guys rightfully ripped the Eagles for just after the game ended (see story.) 

On Monday afternoon, I wondered what part of that score bothered Doug Pederson more: the 48 or the 7. So I asked him. 

And he didn’t hesitate at all. 

The seven points we scored because we had more plays out on the field that we left, after watching the film again today. So that's the disappointing thing, that we didn't do a better job offensively and score more points in this game.

The 48, listen, they're a good football team. Let's not kid ourselves there. That's a good football team, and we knew we were going to have to score points, but, yeah, the seven points is probably more disappointing.

Yeah, he’s right. At least on this topic. 

The Saints score a lot of points. We knew this going into Sunday’s game. They put up 51 points the previous week and were averaging 36.7 points per game. The Eagles weren’t going to just shut down Drew Brees and that offense. We all went into the game on Sunday thinking the offense had to put up 40 points if the Eagles were going to have a chance. Then they scored seven. 

So the Eagles’ defense gave up 48 points to a Hall of Fame quarterback, but they have a secondary that has been completely decimated by injuries this year and even in this game. By the end of Sunday night, Brees was picking apart three corners who weren’t on the roster a month ago (see story). Now, that still isn’t an excuse to get torched as badly as they did and even before Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas went down, Brees was picking them apart. 

But we expected the Saints to score. That’s what they do. 

They Saints also give up points and yards through the air. At least they did before they faced the Eagles. Coming into Sunday, the Saints were giving up 25.8 points per game and 296 yards through the air. The Eagles scored seven and Wentz had just 156 passing yards. 

As bad as the defense has been at certain points this season, it’s not the biggest problem. This offense isn’t getting the job done. They have still scored just 21 points in first quarters this year — just 2.1 per game — and on Sunday never found a rhythm. 

This is an offense with a franchise quarterback, an offensive line that’s supposed to be good and several weapons, including a trade deadline acquisition of Golden Tate. That offense sputtered on Sunday and has sputtered for most of the season. 

It takes a lot for 48 points given up on defense to not be the biggest problem in a game. But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday. 

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Roob Knows Podcast: One of the worst losses in team history

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Roob Knows Podcast: One of the worst losses in team history

On this edition of Roob Knows, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro recap the debacle in New Orleans. 

Who should own the most responsibility for the loss? Are there coaches already on the hot seat?

Roob gives some rather forgettable stats. However, is there hope for a division title with the injury to Alex Smith?

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1:00 - What happened?
6:00 - Doug Pederson and Mike Groh overmatched without Frank Reich?
11:00 - Saints were playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" often.
13:00 - Alarming lack of takeaways from the defense.
17:00 - Doug deserves most of the blame.
22:00 - Carson Wentz deserves criticism.
28:30 - With Alex Smith gone for the season, do the Eagles have a shot at the division?
34:00 - Some forgettable stats from Sunday's loss.
39:30 - How was New Orleans?