It was unbelievable. As in, you actually could not believe what you were seeing.
After just four snaps, DeSean Jackson was hurt, again. He’d missed almost seven full games with a partially torn abdominal muscle, but there he was, a $9 million Porsche, back in the shop after a quick lap around the block. Same problem: bad undercarriage.
As it turns out, they hadn’t even given him a real test drive. That’s right: Jackson didn’t fully practice. He just went out and played.
It’s another black mark against an organization with an alarmingly poor history of managing injuries.
This one was unconscionable.
According to a report on nbcsports.com, Jackson completely tore muscle from bone in his brief appearance Sunday. Sources told The Inquirer that Jackson will undergo surgery Tuesday and will miss as much as two months, if not longer; effectively, the rest of the season.
For four plays. Against the Bears.
Doug Pederson said after the game Jackson’s removal was “precautionary.” Yes. They were taking precautions against his viscera spilling out of his midsection at the 45-yard line.
These “precautions” could have been taken several hours before, by keeping Jackson in street clothes. The Eagles are idle this week. Jackson could have healed for, essentially, three more weeks. Instead ... well, we just don’t know.
Neither does Pederson, who sounded remorseful about letting Jackson play, especially since this setback might remove Jackson from the roster for several weeks to come.
“Sitting here today, you kind of go, ‘All right. Maybe you shouldn’t have,' " Pederson admitted. "That’s second-guessing. We’ve got to play with guys who are in uniform.”
They also choose which guys put on the uniforms. Early Monday morning, Pederson told the hosts on WIP-94FM that he expected Jackson to return when the Eagles host the Patriots in two weeks. At his weekly noon press conference four hours later, he was less assured. Then, three hours later, the bomb dropped.
Pederson, who played in the NFL, hopefully didn’t know the severity of Jackson’s injury at midday. He probably now regrets his lunchtime comments, when he seemed to be wishing that Jackson was more willing to endure the “discomfort” Jackson said he experienced when he took himself out of the game Sunday.
“With this injury, and most injuries, you sometimes have to play through it," Pederson said, carefully, with several pauses. "At the same time, you have to be smart.”
Too late for that.
It would have been smarter to ignore Jackson’s lobbying efforts.
“He was really ... he’d been busting his tail to get back out on the field. We limited him even in practice with what he could do.”
"We limited him even in practice with what he could do.”
DeSean Jackson -- a 32-year-old speed merchant who played less than 50 percent of his teams’ snaps the past four seasons -- started an NFL game after seven weeks of idleness without fully participating in a practice?
Unbelievable. We know now definitively that Jackson declined surgery to repair his torn abdominal muscle. Asked whether Jackson should have undergone an operation, Pederson said, “That’s not for me to answer?”
For whom, them?
“I’d say DeSean,” Pederson said. "Players elect to have stuff done. Ultimately, DeSean didn’t want to have surgery when it happened. Rehabbed it. Got himself in a position to play."
No. No, he didn’t, and it was the team’s responsibility to acknowledge that.
We know that Jackson was eager to return to reinforce a stable of slow receivers who can’t catch. What we don’t know is why the Eagles would let him return.
Or don’t we know that? Of course, we know why they wanted D-Jax back.
The Eagles faced a must-win game for the second time in as many weeks. They believed they had to have Jackson to negate the Bears’ fearsome defense. As it turned out, they were wrong about that, too. They didn’t need him at all. The won, 22-14, and did so despite Alshon Jeffery.
Be it by accident or by avarice, the Eagles keep painting themselves as a club less concerned with the well-being of players than the price of stadium parking.
How does this happen? How does it happen to this franchise especially -- a team stained by two years of lingering ailments and misdiagnoses (Carson Wentz’s fractured back, Jay Ajayi’s torn knee ligaments?
How does this sort of embarrassment -- and that’s what it is, people -- happen to a team that just reconfigured its medical staff? To a team that plays in a city with the Sixers, whose mishandling of injury and image provided a seven-year syllabus in how not to handle injury and image? The Sixers are on their third medical staff, by the way.
Here’s how it happens: desperation.
The Eagles didn’t make a trade at the deadline Tuesday. Instead, they made a mistake on Sunday.
They were a 4-4 coaching staff and front office that was looking back at horrible losses to the Falcons and Lions, who have four wins between them, and humiliations at the hands of the Vikings and Cowboys, who combined to beat them by 45 points.
They were a 4-4 coaching staff and front office that was looking just ahead at visits by the eight-win Patriots and the now-seven-win Seahawks.
After a few more losses, some of that coaching staff and front-office personnel might be looking at a few pink slips, too.
Little wonder they were desperate.
They can spend the next few weeks repenting their greed.