Philadelphia Eagles starting guards among NFL’s top 25

Lane Johnson #65, Brandon Brooks #79, Jason Kelce #62, Isaac Seumalo #73 and Andre Dillard #77, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Lane Johnson #65, Brandon Brooks #79, Jason Kelce #62, Isaac Seumalo #73 and Andre Dillard #77, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Believe it or not, two statements can sound like they’re in direct contradiction of one another and still be totally accurate. The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of talent along their offensive line, and yet man for man, there’s a lot of concern about this unit’s state of offensive readiness as the 2021-2022 season approaches.

Last season, all six of the following Birds were on the roster and were, at some point, mentioned as obvious starters. Injuries wrecked everything as, despite the obvious talent of all six, Philadelphia’s offensive line failed the eyeball test.

Fast forward, and all of these guys are back, but it doesn’t feel like everyone’s totally confident. First, let’s just look at the names:

Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, and Jordan Mailata. You’ve heard of all of those guys, right?

Okay Philadelphia Eagles fans, let’s back up.

Okay, we can make all of these statements without giving some of you the skinny (just in case you’ve been living under a rock). The injury bug didn’t just show up during Philly’s season, it built a nest at the NovaCare Complex.

Dillard was placed on the team’s injured reserve in September. Brooks was on the shelf before that as Philly announced that he had torn his Achilles (again) on June 15th of 2020. Seumalo crashed and burned on September 22nd and was placed on the IR but was activated on November 20th. It was clear that he wasn’t fully healthy though.

That brings us to Lane Johnson who, seemingly, has been dealing with something or another since Philly played the Jaguars in London.

Things may be turning for this Philadelphia Eagles team.

Depending on who you talk to, you can find Birds fans that want Dillard at left tackle and others that want Philly to ride the regular season out with Mailata, and despite the fact that Dillard was a first-rounder and Mailata was a seventh, he’s the better prospect in the opinions of most.

June is upon us, and as of right now, this is the healthiest the Eagles offensive line has looked in years. Come on. Having a broken-down Jason Peters out there didn’t help much.

Jason Kelce is Philadelphia’s iron man. He’s started every game for Philly in every Eagles season since 2015, but don’t discredit how good the guys are to the right and left of him either. Recently, Pro Football Focus ranked the top 32 guards in the game as we near training camp. Brooks cracked the list’s top ten at number eight. Mr. Seumalo popped up at 22.

Here’s what Sam Monson, the writer of this one, had to say about both. We begin with Seumalo’s critique:

"Seumalo’s PFF pass-blocking grade has improved for three straight seasons now, with his 2020 mark of 77.4 representing a career-high figure despite the situation outside of him not being ideal. Injury robbed us of a complete campaign and career year overall, but Saumalo has now developed into a quality starter for an Eagles line that was in need of a transition in personnel."

Here’s some insight on Brooks:

"If injury wasn’t a factor, you could justifiably argue that Brooks would rank third behind Nelson and Martin on the list. He was the best guard in the NFL in 2019, but then a torn Achilles tendon put him out of the 2020 season. When we last saw him play, he gave up just 20 pressures in 16 games while dominating in the run game. If that player returns, he will leap up this ranking."

Again, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Brooks on the field for a regular-season game. As a matter of fact, the last time we saw him was the season finale almost two seasons ago on December 29th of 2019, and yes, you’re correct. He separated his shoulder in that one, which, in essence, ended his season a week before the Philadelphia Eagles ended theirs.

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No one doubts how good 79 is healthy, but he hasn’t been. Neither has Johnson, Mailata, or Seumalo recently. If the Birds have any shot at being competitive in 2021, they need these guys on the field.

Cross your fingers. Take a deep breath. Hope for the best. You have to love the resiliency of all of these guys, but goodness gracious. They sure got old in a hurry.