Did Doug Send a Message to DeSean?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Remember who trained Doug Pederson to be a head coach in the National Football League.
Andy Reid was so intent on protecting his players that his "I've got to do a better job" mantra was despised by the fan base by the time Big Red's shelf life in Philadelphia finally expired despite enormous success.
So it was notable that on the same day Pederson raved about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's versatility and somehow said with a straight face that Sidney Jones was in a "good spot" despite being a healthy inactive during Sunday's win over Chicago, Pederson let the world in on what we'be been telling you on "Football at Four" for weeks.
It was DeSean Jackson who decided not to undergo surgery for a core-muscle injury, opting instead for rest and rehab in an attempt to get back on the football field in a more timely fashion.
"Ultimately, DeSean didn’t want to have surgery when it happened," Pederson admitted on Monday. “He rehabbed it and got himself in a position to play so I can’t put words in players’ mouths, in doctors’ mouths, that’s not my position.”
As two weeks turned into four and a hopeful return was pushed back from Minneapolis to Dallas to Buffalo, Jackson did finally get back on the field against the Bears but if you left the couch for a beer you might have missed it.
Jackson lasted one series before the discomfort became troubling and the Eagles removed him as a "precaution."
“He did feel some discomfort when he was in there,” Pederson said. “So for precautionary measures, we decided to keep him out and evaluate him. We’re gathering some more information on him. Obviously this is our bye week so we’re gonna get all the information and see where we’re at.”
Why the Eagles eschewed the veil of secrecy can only be speculated upon but the organization's much-maligned medical staff began taking more hits with the thought that holding out Jackson one more week in a game where you probably didn't need him because of a limited Chicago offense would have been the better play.
“Sitting here today you go: 'maybe you should’ve held him out through bye,'" Pederson said. “You’re second-guessing now. We’re in a business where we gotta play and we gotta play with guys who are in uniform. Again, he busted his tail to put himself in a position to help us yesterday. He just felt that discomfort so we kept him out.”
The Eagles had already admitted that with this type of injury Jackson will need to play through discomfort because that's not going away without surgery and once his baseline levels were back to a certain point, it's all up to Jackson -- play through it or don't and the two weeks between Chicago and New England isn't changing that reality.
So the strategy is shifting and the Eagles seem to be signaling that DeSean's original decision to avoid surgery has now come to a fork in the road requiring yet another choice -- shut it down or play through it.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen