When the Eagles signed right guard Stacy Andrews to a six-year contract worth 38.9 million dollars in 2009, they weren’t planning on making him a backup. Fast forward 18 months and the 6’7, 342 pound guard isn’t guaranteed a starting spot. That may not come as a surprised based on his performance, but considering the praise the Eagles coaching staff has given him up until now, it might cause an onlooker to raise an eyebrow.
Throughout camp, Reid has said that Andrews has improved and needed to continue to improve, but has never let on that anybody else might start in his spot. Given the insertion of Todd Herremans back into the lineup and the availability of Max Jean-Gilles, Reid was asked about the possibility of Jean-Gilles taking the spot and didn’t categorically deny it.
“I’ve mentioned this before, as long as [Andrews] continues to improve, he’ll be that guy, and he’s been doing that every day,” said head coach Andy Reid. Now sure, that wasn’t exactly a scathing dressing down by Reid, but given that a potential competition has never been discussed officially at right guard, it’s certainly a step towards that possibility.
If you really break it down, Reid put a condition on Andrews holding onto the starting spot, which means there is some competition there. Earlier in camp, Reid discussed some of Andrews’ strengths and weaknesses. “Stacy is a tremendous run blocker and he’s putting a lot of emphasis in his pass game, trying to make sure that he keeps his hands in there tight and everything’s working for him,” said Reid. “And I’m telling you that he works his tail off and that will help him get better at those things, and he continues to be very good at the things that he does well.
While there’s enough blame to go around, the Eagles offensive line as a whole has struggled – particularly on the interior. With Herremans back in the fold and starting center Jamaal Jackson seeing light at the end of the injury tunnel, there could suddenly be a line of guards applying pressure to Andrews.
Nick Cole has been pressed into duty as a center since Jackson’s knee injury last year, but has always performed at a higher level as a guard. If Jackson is able to return early in the season, there’s a possibility of Cole switching back. Throw in Jean-Gilles, and Andrews must know he needs to improve.
The effort though, is certainly not lacking. Andrews has been putting in extra work on the side with offensive line coach Juan Castillo for quite some time. “The thing that Juan preaches over and over is that we are going to keep doing it over and over and over until it becomes natural and that helps out a lot, “ Andrews said. “Since I came here, Juan has been out there working me, working me, working me and still to this day we come out here early and sometimes after practice we stay late.”
In some ways, it appears that Castillo has made the development of Andrews his personal project. He’s got just under two and a half weeks to finish the job before the Eagles open their regular season against the Packers.