Eagles Wake-Up Call: Brandon Brooks’ Mysterious Illness
On the morning of the Eagles-Packers game two weeks ago, Brandon Brooks woke up and began to vomit around 5 a.m. — and he couldn’t stop “throwing up uncontrollably” for around 16 or 17 hours. The 27-year-old right guard was hospitalized, forcing him to miss the game, but he said a few days later that while he did have a history of game day illnesses, he had just caught a stomach virus. He resolved to eat healthier and to “stick to bland foods,” and he appeared confident it would only be a one-time thing.
Then Brooks contracted another mysterious illness two days ago just hours before the Eagles played Washington, forcing him to miss that game as well. It was the fourth time in three seasons he’s missed a game because of a last-minute health issue, after having a stomach ulcer in 2014 and being hospitalized again in 2015 while he reportedly “experienced extreme nausea and sweating” shortly before a game.
Brooks appeared to be “fine” in meetings on Saturday, according to Doug Pederson, but Eagles director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer Chris Peduzzi called the head coach around 8:30 or 9 a.m. on Sunday morning to inform Pederson of Brooks’ status. The team is still unsure of what, exactly, is going on.
“Medically, I don’t know. I’m not Brandon, so I can’t speak for him. But it’s something we’ve got to get to the bottom of and help him as an athlete,” Pederson said. “He definitely wants to explore the reasons why. If we can help him, I want to help him and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Pederson said Brooks hasn’t had any similar issues this year on days other than when the team has had games, and he isn’t sure if the offensive lineman is experiencing any mental issues that may be causing these problems. Pederson and Brooks spoke to each other on Monday morning, but the head coach didn’t get much clarity on the situation from the conversation.
The Eagles signed the Wisconsin native to a five-year deal in the offseason worth a reported $40 million, including $17 million fully guaranteed. According to Over the Cap, it’s the third-biggest contract for a right guard in the NFL. While Brooks has played well, he has missed 16 percent of the offense’s snaps this season because of these game day illnesses.
With Brooks out, rookie third-round pick Isaac Seumalo has stepped in both times to start at right guard.
“It can be a challenge,” Pederson said. “I think for us, as coaches and as a staff, by giving Isaac these reps during the week, it definitely prepares [us] for anything. It’s obviously no different than if [Brooks] were to go down with an injury, say, in the first quarter and [Seumalo’s] got to go play. It is a difficult situation, but at the same time, we feel comfortable with Isaac and giving him the time during the week to be ready and handle the situation. ”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles placed three players on injured reserve, including rookie Wendell Smallwood, but also signed two players to fill up some spots.
“Maybe not the way he would like, and he doesn’t get the publicity [that] some of the other guys get.” NFC East Roundup.
Take a look at some of the best photos from Sunday’s game, courtesy of our own Jeff Fusco.
Long snapper Jon Dorenbos is done for the remainder of the season.
What do the Eagles need to do in order to make the playoffs next season?
“I thought Carson [Wentz] [had] probably his best game of the year, quite honestly, just the way he hung in there, battled the adversity with the changes up front.” Doug Pederson was impressed by how Wentz played in the loss to the Redskins.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Here's what needs to happen for Eagles to make it: pic.twitter.com/oL5QySM4Fz
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) December 13, 2016
Doug Pederson did not know Matt Tobin was hurt on the team’s final play on offense, pens Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com.
“I honestly did not know that he was injured on the play before,” Pederson said. “There was a pile and he came out of the bottom of the pile, but didn’t see anything at that time. On the last play, yeah, had I known, maybe I could have done something with a back or a tight end over there. Thing is, Matt did a great job that whole drive blocking him. And a lot of times they were line gaming, they were stunting and [Ryan] Kerrigan was coming inside. It just so happened on that last one, he was a little bit wider. And obviously on film, Matt, just an unfortunate situation, just couldn’t push off the knee.”
Tobin was only in the game because Allen Barbre suffered a hamstring injury. Barbre was only playing right tackle because Halapoulivaati Vaitai has an MCL sprain and has been out. Vaitai had only been playing because Lane Johnson was suspended for 10 games.
So with the game on the line, the Eagles were down to their fourth option at right tackle … with an MCL sprain that’s serious enough that it might end his season.
Had Pederson known Tobin was injured, he could have offered help by way of tight end or running back. Or he could have put reserve lineman Josh Andrews at guard and moved Isaac Seumalo to right tackle.
With the Eagles essentially eliminated from the playoff hunt, it’s talent assessment time, writes Les Bowen of the Daily News.
THE EAGLES’ defense played only 48 snaps Sunday. Connor Barwin was on the field for just 25 of them, 52 percent, the veteran defensive end’s lowest total of the season, well below his 73 percent average.
Barwin, 30, a franchise bellwether these past four seasons, said he wasn’t surprised. Asked what he thought the falloff was based on, Barwin said: “I think that’s based on, we’re out of the playoffs, there’s some young guys in our room, and they want to see ’em play.”
That is indeed where we are with three games left in a season that can’t turn out better than 8-8. (No, the Eagles aren’t technically eliminated from playoff contention, but reader, please.) The team activated six defensive ends Sunday (technically, Bryan Braman counts, though he plays only special teams). Steven Means got a season-high 11 snaps. He was up in place of running back-returner Kenjon Barner, Doug Pederson confirmed Monday, so of course, running back/returners Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles went down during the game.
Jim Schwartz will address the media at 11:45, while Frank Reich will talk at noon.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.