Okay, so here we go again. Training camp approaches, and if you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan, that means we all get to argue over roster battles. There are a few spots that we can hang our hats on though, and the offensive line is one of them.
The Birds may not have ironed out everything from a depth standpoint, but we do know who the starters are. It’s the same lineup that we were expecting to see a year ago before the bottom fell out and everyone started getting hurt.
Jason Kelce, Philly’s iron man, is your center. Andre Dillard (or Jordan Mailata) and Lane Johnson bookend the line at both tackle positions. Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks are your left guard and right guard respectively. Keep in mind that Philly also has some nice reserve options in rookie Landon Dickerson, Nate Herbig, and Jack Driscoll. That looks pretty cool on paper, but the stat gurus at Pro Football Focus don’t seem to be impressed.
The Philadelphia Eagles ranked third in the NFC East on PFF’s recent ranking.
Here’s something that everyone is thinking even if it hasn’t been said a ton. If you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan, you’re a little worried about this starting lineup because you’re asking yourself what happens if someone gets hurt.
It’s hard to imagine every member of the Eagles O-line getting through the full 17-game slate, especially when we’ve all seen the unit sustain so many injuries as of late. That’s a real concern as we near 2021’s regular season. Pro Football Focus apparently has some of their own as, in a recent ranking of all 32 offensive lines, Philly took the 17th spot on the list.
That’s good for third place in the NFC East as the Washington Football Team finished one spot ahead of them and the Dallas Cowboys landed at six. The New York Giants were dead last at 32. Here’s some of what Steve Palazzolo, the writer of this one, had to say on the subject,
"It’s a pivotal year for 2019 first-round left tackle Andre Dillard, who struggled on 337 snaps as a rookie before missing all of last season due to injury… Right tackle Lane Johnson consistently ranks among the best at his position, though his 71.9 grade in 2020 was the lowest of his career… Right guard Brandon Brooks returns after missing all of 2020…Isaac Seumalo returns to left guard after an odd season that saw him rank eighth as a pass blocker but just 68th as a run blocker. Center Jason Kelce has been the highest-graded center over the past few years, but his 69.6 overall grade in 2020 ranked 11th… The other intriguing player is Jordan Mailata, a 2018 seventh-rounder who played rugby and is still a baby in football years…The Eagles could rank anywhere by the end of the season, but if their veterans stay healthy and avoid declines, this has the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in the league once again."
While some of that is valid, Birds fans shouldn’t worry too much about Jalen Hurts’ bodyguards finishing in the bottom half of the league in this ranking. Despite the fact that the legend Jason Peters is gone, much of this unit looks exactly like it did when the Eagles won the Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Year Award on the night before Super Bowl 52.
Sure, Seumalo, Kelce, Brooks, and Johnson have all gotten older since then, which is probably why these guys are more prone to injuries. Still, when you acknowledge that Kelce, Brooks, and Johnson have ten Pro Bowls and four First-team All-Pro nods between them, if those three and the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff is saying these guys are healthy, there are quite a few Birds fans that will take their chances.
Philly just needs to be smart and coach up the reserves. That way they’ll be ready if an emergency comes. For now, take a deep breath. Based on the way things are headed and with the amount of time that these guys have had to rest, it’s safe to assume the Eagles’ O-line will be better during the 2021-2022 season. Then again, they couldn’t possibly play much worse.