Eagles running back Ryan Mathews lost a fumble in the fourth quarter for the second time in three games against the Vikings, although the turnover didn’t wind up hurting the team in a 21-10 victory.
That wasn’t the case in Week Five against the Lions, when Detroit took advantage of Mathews’ miscue to drive for a go-ahead field goal in what became a 24-23 victory. Mathews lost three fumbles for the Eagles last year and has fumbled 20 times over the course of his career, although neither recent nor distant history have coach Doug Pederson feeling down about the back.
“Well, it’s definitely a concern and we don’t want to see it, especially in those situations – four-minute situations there at the end of the game,” Pederson said in his Monday press confrence. “We’ve got to continue to either find out if he’s tired, where he’s at at the end of the game; if we need to put Wendell [Smallwood] or 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.”
Whether Mathews understands that it’s a negative to fumble the ball or not is secondary to whether he’s doing the right things to avoid turnovers that can make life more difficult for his team. His history says its an issue and it probably won’t take more than another fumble or two for the Eagles to rethink who is getting the ball down the stretch in games.