The Philadelphia Eagles officially placed starting linebacker Nathan Gerry and fifth defensive end Genard Avery on injured reserve.
This news wasn’t expected. Gerry hasn’t practiced at all this week but there was no indication he’d miss multiple games. Avery, meanwhile, was limited in practice on Wednesday before missing Thursday’s session.
Let’s take a closer look at the impact of the Eagles losing these players for at least three games.
To much chagrin, Gerry has been the team’s top linebacker this season. The coaching staff clearly trusts him to make calls and line up the defense but they haven’t exactly been able to count on him playing well. Gerry has often been victimized in coverage; Pro Football Focus grades him as one of the NFL’s worst cover linebackers. He also ranks tied for 18th when it comes to missed tackles.
With Gerry exiting the starting lineup and T.J. Edwards expected to return, the latter could take over as the team’s primary linebacker. Or maybe it’ll be Alex Singleton who steps up in that role. Or maybe it’s a rotation. Either way, Edwards, Singleton, and Duke Riley figure to be the top three linebackers with Gerry out. Rookies Shaun Bradley and Davion Taylor figure to be the fourth and fifth options, respectively.
People shouldn’t be rejoicing about Gerry’s pain but one can’t help wonder if his absence could be a case of addition by subtraction for the Eagles’ defense.
UPDATE: NFL Network has more insight on Gerry’s injury situation.
#Eagles LB Nate Gerry, who was placed on IR today, has been dealing with an Achilles issue for a while, source says. The hope is the injury will settle down with rest. Jim Schwartz defended Gerry recently and coaches have a higher opinion of his play than outside perceptions.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 30, 2020
Avery has pretty much been a non-factor outside of his good game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4. And that statement applies to ever since the Eagles curiously traded a 2021 fourth-round draft pick for him prior to the 2019 trade deadline.
Avery was the fourth guy in the defensive end rotation until Vinny Curry returned, knocking him back down to fifth. Avery didn’t even play a single defensive snap in the Eagles’ most recent game. Pretty disappointing.
The Eagles could opt to go with the quartet of Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Curry moving forward. They could also elevate Joe Ostman from the practice squad if they wanted another body on the edge.
OPEN ROSTER SPOTS
The Eagles now have four open roster spots after placing Gerry, Avery, DeSean Jackson, and Hassan Ridgeway on injured reserve this week. They’ll likely be looking to fill those spots by activating four of the following five players designated to return from IR: Jalen Reagor, Jason Peters, T.J. Edwards, Rudy Ford, Dallas Goedert.