Championships are won in the trenches is the old adage. The 2021 Philadelphia Eagles are a tough read for early predictions. The fanbase is split at 10 plus wins or barely 5 wins. I believe either way the wins for this team will come from the trenches, especially at the offensive line.
Lane Johnson has his own work to do and the veteran offensive lineman has gotten in the best shape of his career. He is looking to have a healthy season and return to dominance. He is coming off a persistent ankle injury which resulted in two surgeries and limited the former All-Pro to seven games in 2020. Johnson is also working with the next generation of Eagles’ offensive linemen like Nate Herbig and Jack Driscoll. When healthy, Johnson is one of the best offensive tackles (not just right tackles) in the entire NFL. Right now presumably healthy, Johnson could be ready for redemption. Then again, Johnson admitted he wasn’t sure if his collapsed ankle that required surgery would impact him the rest of his career. The Eagles will hope he can considering Johnson is signed through 2025.
Brandon Brooks is coming off two Achilles injuries and a separated shoulder. The question is how might this impact a 32-year-old offensive lineman? I would not bet against Brooks but it wouldn’t be shocking if he takes a step back after the wear and tear of this many injuries.
As we all know but this may be Jason Kelce’s last season. He turns 34 in November and has previously given thought to retirement. We are hoping he can give the Birds one last good run while also serving as a leader and culture-setter as the team transitions to the Sirianni era.
Left guard Isaac Seumalo hasn’t practiced due to a hamstring strain.
Can the future be won in the trenches? Let’s look into the crystal ball.
Jack Driscoll played 300 snaps as a rookie fourth-round pick out of Auburn last season. He was in-and-out of the lineup when covering for Johnson. Driscoll has gotten his own first-team reps at camp at right tackle when 31-year-old Johnson is given a maintenance day. This has happened twice in the first eight days of work.
Nate Herbig started 12 of the Eagles’ 16 games and was on the field for 79 percent of the team’s snaps in 2020. Only Jason Kelce (99%) appeared in more plays in 2020. Herbig made some changes to be more effective in his third campaign. He spent much of the offseason working out with Lane Johnson at the barn in Moorestown, New Jersey. Herbig dropped 30 pounds and is quicker and more confident in his abilities during training camp at the NovaCare Complex. Lane Johnson referred to Nate as “a specimen?”
Now with Landon Dickerson finally signed I really can not wait to see what the future holds for him when healthy.
Dillard Losing to Mailata
Dillard, through the first week of training camp, is clearly losing the battle for the starting left tackle job. Jordan Mailata, a seventh-round pick in 2018 who was an Australian rugby player and had never played organized football before then, is clearly winning the position. It hasn’t been close. The question is what happens to the former 1st round pick? The Eagles could then indeed look to trade Dillard. If they do, that likely leaves Driscoll at the top swing tackle. Dickerson could be the top guy at every interior spot unless they feel more comfortable with Herbig in certain places. Here is a look at the possible healthy starting lineup:
Left tackle — Jordan Mailata
Left guard — Isaac Seumalo
Center — Jason Kelce
Right guard — Brandon Brooks
Right tackle — Lane Johnson
Overall, the Eagles’ offensive line looks promising on paper. Remember championships are won in the trenches and could be the big difference between a retooling and rebuilding year for our Eagles. Go Birds!