On a night when Sean McDermott's pass defense didn't allow a touchdown for the first time since Week 3, the Eagles' secondary still had significant issues in a 24-14 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson appeared to have the biggest problem covering Vikings receivers and defending against rookie quarterback Joe Webb's passes. A second-half benching in which Joselio Hanson took his place suggested as much.
Eagles coach Andy Reid did not have an answer Wednesday as to whether Patterson had lost his job permanently, but there's ample reason to speculate that a change will be made. Since replacing Ellis Hobbs in November, Patterson increasingly has been victimized by opposing quarterbacks.
He was targeted a number of times and beaten by the New York Giants last week, and struggled Tuesday to keep up with Vikings receiver Percy Harvin. Patterson was called for two early third-quarter penalties and has 11 penalties overall this season, second-worst on the Eagles.
Tuesday's outing was the opposite of the defense's effort in the previous three games when it allowed more than 24 points in each but tightened up in big spots. The defense surrendered only 17 points but couldn't get off the field on third down and was loose in the red zone.
The Vikings converted on 6 of 13 third downs - including a devastating third and 11 in the fourth quarter - and were 2 of 4 inside the 20. The Eagles are still last in the league in the latter category, allowing touchdowns 76.2 percent of the time.
McDermott has had to deal with a number of injuries to his unit, and at various points in the season has lost starters at both cornerback spots, middle linebacker, free safety, defensive end, and defensive tackle.
The injuries, in part, have forced McDermott to come up with different packages with various personnel. But he also has tinkered with other positions, as he did last week against the Giants when he used seven defensive backs on long passing downs and on Tuesday when he had Akeem Jordan occasionally spell weak-side linebacker Ernie Sims.
"What he's done is he's using everybody, trying to work everybody's strengths into the game plan, which is a good thing," Reid said. "And so trying to put everybody in a good position there, and that's OK. That's the way it works."
Jeff Owens' rookie season lasted less than three quarters.
After spending most of the season on the practice squad, the defensive tackle finally dressed for a game Tuesday. However, late in the third quarter, while running after Webb, he ruptured a left knee tendon. He is done for the season.
Owens was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, joining three other rookies - defensive end Brandon Graham, safety Nate Allen, and cornerback Jorrick Calvin - and six veterans.
He wasn't the only defensive tackle to get hurt against Minnesota. Trevor Laws suffered a shoulder sprain and bruised chest and is questionable for Sunday. The Eagles are expected to replace Owens on the 53-man roster with another defensive tackle by Thursday.
Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley is out again with an elbow injury, but has "a chance," according to Reid, to play in the playoffs. Linebacker Keenan Clayton (hamstring) "should be full speed this week," Reid said.
The Eagles-Vikings game, postponed from Sunday night because of a snowstorm, drew a 15.2 overnight rating and 24 share on NBC. The network said that tied for the fifth-highest rating for a Sunday Night Football game this season.