Is Losing Shawn Andrews Addition by Subtraction for the Eagles?

Lou DiPietroAnalyst ISeptember 15, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 09: Shawn Andrews #73 of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers on September 9, 2007 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Eagles 16-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

By now, you’ve probably heard the big news out of Philadelphia today: Shawn Andrews has been placed on injured reserve and is out for the season.

And by now, you’ve probably embraced one of two reactions: Either “Good, he’s useless, let’s cut him!” mantra, or the “Oh no, he was our starting right tackle!” panic attack.

Me, I fall somewhere closer to the former but sympathize with the latter.

Yes, he was supposed to be the Eagles’ starting right tackle, moved from right guard to accommodate his own brother, Stacy.

Then again, he was supposed to be the Eagles’ starting right guard last year, and he played all of two games before clogging up a roster spot for three months in hopes that he would return.

The Eagles did just fine without him then…and they’ll do just fine without him now.

In case you missed it, Winston Justice actually played well in the season-opener at Carolina. And he’s going to have to continue that, because he’s now the starting right tackle.

Behind him, the depth is admittedly a little suspect, but both King Dunlap and Mike McGlynn played their way onto the team for a reason. They might now have more of an opportunity to show Eagles fans just why the coaching staff held onto them.

But once Todd Herremans gets healthy, the Eagles have a wealth of options. Again, Dunlap and McGlynn are on the team for a reason, and Justice has done well so far.

Stacy Andrews also has experience as a right tackle, so he could be moved outside and either Nick Cole or Max-Jean Gilles (both of whom are more than capable) can take his spot.

And of course, there’s that big X-factor: Jon Runyan.

Big Jon was one of the anchors of the Eagles’ O-line for a decade, and wasn’t retained this season due to a microfracture surgery on his knee. However, he’s been spotted in Philly lately, and if he’s healthy, he’s still a better option than even any of the aforementioned tackles currently on the roster.

The Eagles will be fine without Andrews. The more logical question is whether or not Andrews will soon be without the Eagles.

Yes, when he’s on the field, he’s a beast that can play either position on the right side of the line. And he’s a two-time Pro Bowler.

He’s also injury prone, and most importantly, may not even have his head in the game at all.

Last year, Andrews never reported to training camp, citing depression and personal issues. He came back in time for the season, but halfway though Week Two he left with a back injury.

The Eagles were patient, keeping him on the roster all year, but he never returned. He had surgery in the offseason and was deemed ready for 2009.

Clearly, he wasn’t.

Andrews re-tweaked his back in training camp and didn’t play the entire preseason. That was the highlight of two months of “he said, she said” style gossip, leading many to wonder exactly what was wrong with him.

MRIs and x-rays showed no structural damage, yet depending on who you asked, Andrews’ health seemingly fluctuated from “ready to play” to “on death’s door.”

Then he missed the season-opener, and now, thanks to the necessary addition of Jeff Garcia, finds himself on IR.

If the Eagles’ offensive line does well without him this year, they may as well give up on him.

Back injuries, especially for big men, never fully go away. You can even ask Runyan, who has had a history of back issues, but found a way to play (and excel) through them.

By the time 2010 camp rolls around, Andrews will have missed almost two full seasons because of his back. If he’s this fragile at 26, he might not hold up through the end of his contract in 2015. Plus, with all the mental issues he’s seemingly having, he might be more of a hindrance than a help.

His contract makes him costly to cut, at least until March 1, but it might be worth it.

Coincidentally, in the two full seasons he’s missed, the Eagles have gone to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game. Bizarre, but they’re a much better team without him (22-8-1 and the above two accolades) than with him (25-25, only losing season of the decade).

Sorry Shawn, but the NFL is a big game of "what have you done for me lately." And quite frankly, you haven’t.

At least for this year, putting him on IR is a good move. In addition to opening up a roster spot (which was immediately used on Jeff Garcia), it gives everyone from Andy Reid to the fans to the backup tackles—and even Andrews—peace of mind.

The season can go on without him. And it will.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.