The Eagles’ offensive line took a hit yesterday, as LT Andre Dillard suffered a season-ending injury in practice. That makes two starting linemen gone for the year before the season even starts. When I detailed the first week of training camp, one of the major takeaways was that the offensive line was struggling. Now, on top of those struggles, they have to shuffle around once again.
What Does the Eagles Starting Line Look Like
The Eagles starting lineup will now likely feature Jason Peters moving back to his original position at LT and Matt Pryor regaining the starting job at RG. That leaves the Eagles with a starting offensive line from left to right to Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Matt Pryor, and Lane Johnson. That is a unit that Carson Wentz can feel comfortable behind. In fact, you could argue that the unit could be better now than it was a few days ago.
Jason Peters was no lock to be able to change positions. Going from OT to OG is a big deal, but Peters not only was sliding inside, but he was also switching sides of the line. Now he is back in the position he has played his entire career, a position that he performed fine in last season. His PFF grade of 82.3 far surpassed the 59.7 grade of Andre Dillard. It wasn’t just PFF who viewed Peters as better in 2019 either. If you look at pressure rates, average value metrics, or even just put on the tape it is clear that Peters outplayed Dillard last season. So does moving Peters back to LT and inserting Matt Pryor at RG make the offensive line better? I don’t know for certain, but you could certainly argue that point.
Offensive Line Depth Concerns
The bigger issue now is the lack of depth on the offensive line. Jordain Mailata, Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll, Sua Opeta, Prince Tega Wanogho. Do any of those names inspire confidence? Is there anyone on that list that the Eagles can feel confident using to protect Carson Wentz’s blindside?
These are very important questions to answer because it isn’t a question of when the Eagles will have to go to the bench but rather a question of when. Jason Peters hasn’t played over 80% of the snaps in either of the last 2 seasons. Do you really trust one of these players to step in for 20% or more of the snaps? Further driving the point home is the fact that Jason Peters has been in and out of the lineup during training camp with various injuries. You could argue that Peters never plays much in training camp and you would be right. But in a year where he is changing position, a year where every rep matters, he has been noticeably inconsistent.
Lane Johnson missed 35% of the snaps last season and 12% of the snaps the year before. Is there a second player on the list you trust to play?
Jack Driscoll has been working at RT and RG during camp so he could conceivably enter the year as the backup at both of those positions. Is Jordan Mailata the backup LT? He has struggled significantly during camp and has never taken a regular-season NFL snap. Is Prince Tega Wanogho the backup? Suddenly there are major questions all over the offensive line and there are no easy answers.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
The #Eagles have had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL over the last 3 years. It is shaping up to be the weakness of the offense this season.— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) August 26, 2020
In the short term, I would expect the Eagles to try and sign a veteran tackle to provide some proven depth heading into the season. But the long term questions are suddenly very big for this team. Jason Kelce is 32 years old and has openly flirted with the idea of retirement for a couple of years now. Brandon Brooks is 31 years old, has had 3 consecutive seasons cut off due to injury, and had his contract extended a year early last year in another questionable move by Howie Roseman. Lane Johnson is 30 years old. Jason Peters is 36 years old. The Eagles only have 1 player on the OL that is young who they can be confident in, LG Isaac Seumalo.
This was supposed to be the year for Andre Dillard.
After major struggles in 2019, he showed up to camp heavier and stronger. He was praised by coaches and fellow offensive linemen. But then practices started and the accompanying practice notes gave example after example of him being pushed around by defensive linemen who are unlikely to make an NFL roster. Would he have been a disaster this year? Would he have been replaced by Jason Peters? Or would he have pushed through and solidified himself as the LT of the future? We will never know and now we will enter yet another offseason not knowing if the future 1st round pick is the solution for the team. And that is the true tragedy of the injury.
You can argue that the Eagles offensive line may have gotten better when Andre Dillard exited the lineup on Monday, but you can’t argue that the injury set the unit back significantly when looking to the future. Click below for my top 10 takeaways so far from Eagles Training Camp.