By Nick Shook
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Ryan Mathews is in a tough spot.
The Eagles running back suddenly seems to have a bit of a fumbling issue — two in the waning moments of his last three games. We’re one more coughed up ball from a trend.
“It’s definitely a concern, and we don’t want to see that especially in those situations, those four-minute situations there at the end of the game,” head coach Doug Pederson told reporters Monday. “We have to find out if he’s tired, where he’s at, at the end of the game, if we need to put Wendell (Smallwood) in there, or put Darren (Sproles) in there.
“We’ll find out more about that, but by no means am I down on Ryan at all. We just have to make sure that he understands that he can’t obviously do that and put ourselves in a situation where we’re giving the ball back to the opponent.”
“That” to which Pederson is referring is fumbling twice in late-game situations, when the Eagles held leads and needed to run the clock out. The most recent fumble proved to be harmless, thanks to a commanding advantage over Minnesota. But the first of the two flipped possession in favor of theLions, who capitalized with a late field goal that proved to be a game-winner.
Xavier Rhodes caused Mathews’ most recent fumble, largely by grazing the ball at best. It wasn’t a masterful strip by any stretch, which calls into question how Mathews is carrying the ball.
Tiki Barber dealt with a similar fumbling issue a decade ago and corrected it by carrying the ball higher against his chest. The change was immediately noticeable, both in his adjusted running style and his fewer fumbles.
A similar change could be ahead for Mathews — or we might see more of his backfield mates in his place late in games.