Eagles contingency plans, what-ifs with Lane Johnson, Avonte Maddox out

Lane Johnson #65, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Lane Johnson #65, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Well, it wouldn’t be a possible Super Bowl run if we didn’t have a quarterback injury and a little drama to discuss now would it? The Philadelphia Eagles need one win in their final two games (or a Dallas loss in their final two games) to secure the NFC East’s crown top seed and a first-round bye in the coming postseason. They are also fighting to keep the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers at bay so they can earn the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye during the coming postseason stretch.

It would be nice if the team was at full strength, but there are questions about whether or not Jalen Hurts will play in Week 17 versus the New Orleans Saints and about whether or not Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox will be available during the postseason.

It was reported early on Monday that the former, Johnson, is expected to miss, at minimum, the final two games of the regular season. We’ve since learned, thanks to a report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, that Maddox has suffered a significant toe injury. An MRI has confirmed that he is out indefinitely.

Here are a few what-ifs and possible contingency plans that have been on our minds since news broke of the recent Eagles injury updates.

Here’s where we are. As Jalen continues to heal from a shoulder injury, if he can’t go, most believe that Gardner Minshew is good enough to get the job done and help lead the Eagles to wins over New Orleans (Week 17) and in Week 18 versus the New York Giants.

We’d agree with that. Just for the sake of argument, here are a few what-ifs, both involving quarterbacks and the fall-out from Lane and Avonte’s injuries.

What if Jalen sits and Gardner Minshew and the Eagles win in Week 17? Should Philadelphia continue to rest Jalen Hurts in Week 18?

Despite the self-inflicted errors, the Eagles still had a shot to beat Dallas. Again, the Birds are good enough to win their next game with Gardner Minshew at the helm, but what if they do? Would Hurts then sit out for the remainder of the regular season and simply prepare for the playoffs?

Resting him until the Divisional Round of the playoffs would mean he would have missed a month’s worth of action. Also, there’s the belief that sitting him for the remainder of the regular season would allow rust to set in. Philadelphia’s coaches know their players better than any of us, but this is something we’ll have our eye on.

Maybe he can play a half versus the Giants just to stay sharp if the game is meaningless?

What if the Eagles simply elevate Anthony Harris from the practice squad?

With the Eagles’ secondary suddenly thin, we turn our attention to the practice squad. Philadelphia added Anthony Harris back to the practice squad on December 13th following injuries to C. J. Gardner-Johnson and Reed Blankenship. He has yet to see any in-game action, but he’s eligible for promotion to the active roster should the Birds elect to elevate him.

What if C.J. Gardner-Johnson is ready to go before or after Week 17’s game?

After being placed on injured reserve on December 3rd, C.J. Gardner-Johnson has missed the last four games, but he should be eligible to return to the lineup this week. The question is whether or not he’s healthy enough to do so.

Keep an eye on him to see if Philadelphia opens a practice window. Also, though he has played safety with the Birds, his natural position is at slot corner, so he’d be an option to fill in there during Avonte’s absence.

What if the Eagles talked Malcolm Jenkins out of retirement?

This is probably one of the more unlikely scenarios, but it is an option. We have no idea about how much juice or gas Malcolm Jenkins has in the tank, but he claims to be ready should the Birds determine that they’d like to at least give him a call.

Wouldn’t this be one heck of a story if he returns from retirement?

The Eagles still have Cre’Von LeBlanc’s number, right?

Again, this isn’t one of the more likely scenarios. Philadelphia has Josh Jobe, Andre Chachere, and Josiah Scott in-house, but signing Cre’Von LeBlanc is an option. We can all debate about how wise it would be to explore it.

LeBlanc hasn’t been on an active roster and hasn’t played meaningful snaps since November of 2020, but when the Birds begin making calls, they tend to begin by dialing the numbers of guys that they already know.

We’d be shocked if Cre’Von returned. We truly doubt that he will, but we want a Super Bowl win. We’re turning over every rock here.

What if Lane Johnson is out of the lineup for a while? What then?

The Eagles and every other NFL team have depth charts for a reason. With Lane Johnson out, Jack Driscoll is the next man up at right tackle, but we’ve also seen Philly insert Andre Dillard into the lineup at left tackle and move Jordan Mailata over to the right side of the line in Lane’s absence.

We prefer the former option to the latter. Both are possible. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Here’s one more nugget: The Eagles have been pressured on 14 of their 26 dropbacks (54%) without Lane Johnson out of the lineup this season. That eclipses the league’s highest pressure rate (Bears, 44%) by ten percentage points. Whoever the Eagles place at right tackle will be tested.

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