Offensive coordinator Mike Groh doesn’t yet know the status for Sunday’s game against Detroit for the three key players who missed time in Atlanta – tight end Dallas Goedert (calf), who didn’t play at all, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf), who played six snaps, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson (groin), who departed after 11 snaps. How does that impact the offense’s preparation for the Lions?
“It obviously helps now to have some time to plan, as opposed to happening in the moment,” Groh said Tuesday at his weekly press conference at the NovaCare Complex. “It's unusual. It's never happened to me in all my time coaching to lose three skill-position guys like that so early in the game. I think we were able to settle in finally and find a rhythm and those guys settled in the game and did a nice job.”
The Eagles forced rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and third-year man Mack Hollins into the mix and they played the most snaps of their short NFL careers. Hollins had five receptions, a career high, and Arcega-Whiteside had one catch and some valuable time on the field, and they may very well be in that same position on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field against a Detroit defense that offers a lot of different looks and pressure packages and change-ups to keep an offense out of its rhythm.
No matter who is out there, Groh has said repeatedly, the Eagles will adjust.
“There's a lot of communication that has to go on in a short amount of time to get that done," Groh said. "We have mentally flexible guys and guys that can handle that as players and the coaching staff did a great job of making those adjustments.”
Groh and head coach Doug Pederson have their work cut out to get the offense on track after two flat first halves in the opening weeks – the Eagles have not yet scored in the first quarter of their season and the running game was unable to get going against Atlanta on Sunday night – and the team is hoping to get rookie running back Miles Sanders some room to run against Detroit.
Sanders, who has 21 carries and 53 yards in two weeks, is going through the usual growing pains for a rookie, Groh said.
“There were some moments in there where you’d like him to stick his foot in the ground and get north (in Atlanta), and he can't outrun everybody in this league like he might have been able to do in the past,” Groh said. “That's the learning experience of a young player. We know he's going to learn for it. It's been pointed out and he'll be better for it. We've got a ton of confidence in the guy and he's going to be a really good running back.”
The Eagles haven’t updated their health picture, so it’s a day-by-day proposition to see who will be available for Sunday’s game. In the meantime, the game plan is being prepared and Groh expects the best against a Lions defense that locked down on the Chargers’ vaunted offense in a win on Sunday.