Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews has now fumbled in late-game situations in two of the team’s last three games and coach Doug Pederson is trying to figure out what is going on with his running back.
Mathews’ first fumble came on a crucial late-game drive against the Detroit Lions. The turnover led to a game-winning field goal that handed the Eagles a disappointing loss. He fumbled in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Vikings on a strip from Xavier Rhodes that did not appear sufficient to knock the ball loose under normal circumstances.
“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,” Pederson said 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.”
Mathews leads the Eagles in both rushing attempts and yards, but is the only running back on the team to cough up the ball this season. Both rookie Wendell Smallwood and veteran Darren Sproles have also been effective in more limited roles for the team. If Mathews’ fumbles develop into more of a trend, their roles could increase.
“We’ll find out more about that, but by no means am I down on Ryan at all,” Pederson said. “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.”
One thing the Eagles might explore is changing the way Mathews carries the ball to make it more secure. If he can’t make a change and correct his current woes, he could lose carries.