Final month, Nick Sirianni knocked on his information convention podium when the Eagles’ low variety of soft-tissue accidents was delivered to his consideration.
“I’m not superstitious in any respect. I’m not,” he stated. “However there you go.”
Luck, or an absence thereof, definitely elements into accidents, particularly in a contact sport like soccer. Sirianni, regardless of his predilections, acknowledged as a lot together with his apotropaic act. His group, for essentially the most half, has averted casualties since.
However the Eagles coach additionally is aware of there are accidents that may be preventable or minimized with correct safeguards in coaching and therapy. Muscle strains or tears, notably within the decrease physique, are a number of the most typical within the NFL, however they’re additionally usually thought of essentially the most avoidable.
The 2018-20 Eagles couldn’t keep away from them, or most accidents for that matter. However the soft-tissue form plagued them and was one of many many causes for his or her regression following the 2017 championship season.
The numbers, although, have turned. The Eagles, who had the third most adjusted-games misplaced to damage within the three years prior, are on monitor to be one of many league’s healthiest groups this season.
By way of 13 video games, the Eagles had 18 gamers from the 53-man roster miss a complete of 66 video games to damage. Final yr, they’d 34 gamers out for 152 video games over the identical time period.
The decrease physique soft-tissue figures are simply pretty much as good: the Eagles have had solely six gamers miss 11 whole video games this season vs. the 17 who missed 43 video games final season.
The apply and preseason restrictions the pandemic compelled on NFL groups performed a task within the giant numbers a yr in the past. Accidents elevated throughout the board. However this yr has offered challenges, as properly, and the first cause for the Eagles’ general improved well being may very well be their lowered apply time.
It began in coaching camp with shorter and fewer exercises, and has continued in-season, most lately with Wednesday’s regular apply now only a walkthrough.
“I do imagine it’s a results of how we’re doing issues and the way we’re working towards,” Sirianni stated final month, simply earlier than he scaled again on Wednesdays. “I believe the system that we’re in proper now so far as how the whole lot’s organized has been good all through.
“The opposite groups within the NFL which have completed it this manner have completed properly.”
The Eagles have been trending on this course for the final a number of years, too. Some former workers members thought there was a direct correlation between the lighter camps and the resting of starters within the preseason and the group’s early-season damage woes.
Nevertheless it was speculative. The Eagles had undergone a medical and coaching workers upheaval following the 2017 title. The group’s high two medical doctors and head coach weren’t introduced again for varied causes. Their replacements had been adopted by extra replacements.
Eagles basic supervisor Howie Roseman acknowledged that the modifications might have contributed to the malaise. He vowed after every of the final three seasons to appropriate the issues after which made modifications on the high of the power and sports activities science staffs.
However he appears to have settled on his leaders. Arsh Dhanota was employed earlier than the 2019 season as chief medical officer and head group doctor and is the purpose individual for all of the medical and coaching departments. And Tom Hunkele and Ted Rath had been introduced on as administrators of sports activities science and efficiency, respectively, in February 2020.
They’ve helped implement a proactive method to coaching, one based mostly on monitoring workloads by GPS, and modeled after some NBA and Premier League organizations. The NFL, although, performs fewer video games and has an extended offseason than these leagues.
Some groups nonetheless imagine that the easiest way to get gamers prepared is by having no relaxation for the weary.
“Soccer is like boxing,” a medical supply from one other group stated, “you bought to have the ability to spar.”
But when there was a consensus on how greatest to deal with participant well being, each group would observe. Sirianni adopted the Eagles’ medical workers’s method and took it even one step additional, partly to organize for the brand new 17-game season. Practices had been streamlined, over-30 veterans obtained extra break day, and starters hardly performed within the preseason.
There was a short spell early in camp when the Eagles had a dozen gamers sidelined by damage, a lot of the soft-tissue selection. However just one starter, security Anthony Harris, has missed video games due to a muscle pressure. And it’s unclear if his groin or the opposite listed damage to his arms was extra answerable for his absence.
Nonetheless, the Eagles have had far much less gamers nursing soft-tissue accidents.
“I’ve added fairly a bit into my simply weekly regime, whether or not it’s massages or simply doing various things [with] stretching, strengthening my muscular tissues,” stated tight finish Dallas Goedert, who beforehand missed time with calf strains. “However then additionally I really feel like we’re working towards much less, we’re spending much less time on the sector. My physique goes by way of quite a bit much less put on and tear.
“The issues that I used to be requested to do the final three years in comparison with this yr is a bit of bit completely different.”
The Eagles suffered a number of season-ending or vital accidents early within the season. Starters Brandon Graham (Achilles tendon rupture), Brandon Brooks (torn pectoral muscle) and Isaac Seumalo (Lisfranc foot fracture) went down in Weeks 2-3.
However these had been seemingly unpreventable, except age within the case of the 33-year-old Graham or the 32-year-old Brooks was an element. Roseman seemingly lessened the Eagles’ odds for damage this offseason by merely parting with veterans, like Jason Peters, DeSean Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery, who had been usually within the coaching room.
The roster obtained youthful, however that doesn’t all the time equate to a more healthy squad. Generally it simply takes time to implement change and with stability within the sports activities medication division, maybe that’s the reason the Eagles’ novel method has apparently come to fruition.
“It’s powerful as a result of I don’t need to take credit score from anybody or put blame on anyone. Accidents are actually finicky,” Eagles middle Jason Kelce stated Wednesday. “Numerous the time the power division takes the blame, or the coaching room, or the medical doctors. Generally it’s what it’s and there’s luck and there’s [injuries] which are preventable and you need to actually have an sincere evaluation of which of them are preventable and which of them are issues we may very well be doing organizationally to do a greater job of staying wholesome.
“And the Eagles definitely the final three years have completed their greatest to restrict accidents. However a variety of guys who had been on the workers in the course of the Tremendous Bowl run, the power coach we had earlier than — Josh Hingst — they had been all in place with [former coach] Chip Kelly after we had just like the lowest damage charge within the historical past of the NFL that first yr he was there, and all people was speaking it up: ‘Because of this the damage charge was that.’”
From 2013-15, when Kelly was in cost, the Eagles completed first, fifth, and sixth in Soccer Outsiders’ rankings for adjusted-games misplaced to damage. However they’d all the time been one of many NFL’s more healthy groups below the stewardship of group physicians Peter DeLuca and Gary Dorsheimer and coach Rick Burkholder.
Chris Peduzzi changed Burkholder when he left with Andy Reid in 2013, and even after Doug Pederson took over for Kelly, the Eagles didn’t miss a beat and completed seventh in 2016 and eleventh in 2017. However they ranked thirty second, twenty first, and thirtieth from 2018-20, and solely the 49ers and Jets had extra video games misplaced over that span.
Nevertheless it wasn’t simply the numbers that spoke to Eagles’ medical unease. There have been a number of examples of doubtful restoration and questionable apply within the therapy of gamers.
The one notable thriller this season, if it qualifies, is why the Eagles haven’t but opened the apply window for Brooks when Sirianni stated in September that his damage wasn’t season-ending. The coach stated he would have an replace on Brooks’ timeline after final week’s bye, however that didn’t show to be the case.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts suffered an ankle sprain two weeks in the past in opposition to the New York Giants, and whereas he stated he could be prepared the next week in opposition to the Jets, it was merely over-optimism on his half.
It has since been reported that Hurts has a high-ankle sprain, which generally takes 3-4 weeks to recuperate from, and his standing for Sunday in opposition to Washington is questionable. However the Eagles ought to enter the sport not as shorthanded as their opponent, who had as many as 21 gamers in COVID-19 protocols as of Thursday.
Regardless of the spike across the nation and within the NFL, the Eagles have solely vast receiver Quez Watkins and apply squad operating again Jason Huntley on COVID-19 reserve. They’re solely the fourth and fifth gamers on the group to be positioned on the checklist because the begin of the common season. Solely 4 different NFL groups have had fewer.
The Eagles have elevated their efforts to fight the unfold of the virus. They’ve spaced conferences out, elevated the masks carrying and amped up the messaging on social distancing away from the NovaCare Advanced.
“We’re very conscious clearly of the whole lot that’s occurring and we’re taking precaution of what we’re doing,” Sirianni stated Wednesday. “I’m not going to get into the whole lot that we’ve completed that’s completely different, however we’re taking precaution to be sure that we now have a aggressive benefit over different groups.”
After all, their circumstances might bounce, and the stated may very well be stated of accidents. All it takes is an unlucky bounce or two. Kelce is aware of in addition to anybody.
He stated he needs to be able to play in his 119th straight sport on Sunday in opposition to Washington, regardless of not having the ability to end in opposition to the New York Jets two weeks in the past. The 34-year outdated re-aggravated an ankle damage that had bothered him earlier within the season. The week earlier than, he tweaked his knee and left for a stretch.
Kelce’s toughness and devotion to his teammates and his craft can’t be underestimated in his sturdiness. However having missed most of his sophomore season, and 4 video games two years later, he is aware of his longevity and the Eagles’ current damage good luck could be snatched away in a second.
“I’ve been actually, actually lucky,” Kelce stated. “I don’t need to take something away from that. I’ve missed video games earlier than, however my mindset wasn’t any completely different. I simply obtained damage. However I’ve been fortunate the previous few years to play a variety of video games.”
Knock on wooden.