Ford on Wednesday's sobering news: Eagles are ailing

Eagles Giants Leodis McKelvin
Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin could not stop New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham from catching a touchdown pass in Sunday's Giants win over the Eagles. McKelvin is injured, but still playing.

The entire Philadelphia region awoke to some sobering news on Wednesday morning. You know what I'm talking about. It doesn't look like Kamu Grugier-Hill's hamstring is getting much better.

Same goes for Allen Barbre and Terrence Brooks and, while Doug Pederson didn't mention him, cornerback Leodis McKelvin said the hamstring injury which kept him out of three games this season is limiting his ability to run at full speed.

"It's going to be an issue the rest of this year unless it magically disappears," McKelvin said Wednesday. "It's a struggle, but it's something I have to deal with if I want to keep going out to play."

Dealing with it successfully this week would be a good idea. If he thought Eli Manning was picking on him - and he was - that's nothing compared to what Matt Ryan will try to do this coming Sunday. The Eagles could keep McKelvin away from receiver Julio Jones' side of the field, if defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is looking to hide him a little, but that didn't happen when Odell Beckham was on the field. Anyway, hide or don't hide, the ball will find you.

A year ago, when the Eagles were also struggling with a spate of soft tissue injuries, everyone made fun of Chip Kelly's conditioning program and sports science fetish and sleep monitors and protein shakes. There wasn't any real relation between the two, but it was an entertaining diversion from watching DeMarco Murray burrow into the ground. This season, with a coach who colors inside the lines when it comes to running an NFL team, doing nothing very out of the ordinary, maybe they are just having bad luck.

It is very bad luck that the Eagles, who aren't overly talented to begin with, are hurting at two of the areas where they can least afford it: the defensive backfield and the offensive line. Looking for cause and effect in the recent downturn during which they have lost four of five, two constants have been the team's inability to run the ball, which makes the offense too predictable, and the defense's trouble with pass coverage, which has more direct implications.

The rest of the attendant noise concerning the team - Pederson's in-game decisions, Carson Wentz's growing pains, Dorial Green-Beckham's allergic fear of the football, Josh Huff's dramatic re-creation of Washington crossing the Delaware - all certainly has some bearing on the situation, but if you can't block and you can't cover, you can't win.

Barbre appears to be a long shot to play Sunday and Lane Johnson will be serving the fifth game of his 10-game suspension. While Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Stefen Wisniewski have been acceptable substitutes on the offensive line, that only means Wentz hasn't gotten hurt yet. Otherwise, the line is merely taking up space. It isn't making the running game work. It isn't providing enough pass protection to put Wentz under center very often. So, Allen Barbre's hamstring is a big problem, as is Lane Johnson's nutrition program.

As for McKelvin, who had Beckham in coverage on Manning's first two touchdown passes, he probably wouldn't be on the field if the Eagles had anything resembling an alternative. Since Ron Brooks went down with a torn quadriceps, the cornerback position is ridiculously thin. C.J. Smith was promoted from the practice squad four weeks ago, but he hasn't taken a defensive snap yet, so that's an indication of the regard with which he is held. Aside from McKelvin, the corners are starter Nolan Carroll, who has been flagged for penalties six times this season, and rookie Jaylen Mills. When the Eagles play nickel coverage, which will be a lot against Ryan, they have increasingly used safety Jaylen Watkins as the extra back. Schwartz is looking for pasta that will stick to the wall - Watkins, who totaled 16 defensive snaps in the first five games of the season, got 61 against the Giants - but he doesn't have a lot of pasta to work with.

That said, Leodis McKelvin and his nagging hamstring will be on the field against Ryan, who leads the league with 23 touchdown passes. Wisniewski will be at left guard, trying to pry open a running lane for someone, because of Barbre's continuing hamstring problem. As frustrating as it must be for them personally, the hamstring injuries of safety Terrence Brooks and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill aren't affecting the team very much, although Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks might eventually fall over from exhaustion in the absence of dependable linebacker relief.

Football players get hurt. You don't need to take an exit poll after a game to see the players limping or just moving slowly as they leave the locker room, their fingers splinted with tongue depressors and tape, their skin scraped and raw. It's part of the game.

At this moment in the season, however, the Eagles could have used better luck. They need all the help they can get to keep from tumbling into the abyss. But this was a somber, overcast Wednesday in which there wasn't much good news in the morning report. Or at least that's the way it felt.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports