There’s a reason that one team has been the dominant team in the National Football League for the last 15 to almost 20 years. One team has stood above all the rest and that team is the New England Patriots, which are run by cold-blooded Bill Belichick. Yes, I’m talking about cold-blooded Bill Belichick who gets rid of players that just helped him win a Super Bowl because he gets rid of a guy a year early, rather than keeping a player a year or two, too long.
“Peters has been one of the greatest offensive tackles in the history of the NFL and he’s probably going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.”
It’s cold-blooded to think that way, but as I said — there’s one team that has dominated the NFL for the last 15 years. By the way, they happen to be playing on Sunday in the AFC Championship game for the eight year in a row.
The Eagles have some serious decisions to make on their offensive line and that starts with left tackle, Jason Peters. Peters has been one of the greatest offensive tackles in the history of the NFL and he’s probably going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He showed us all at the end of the season that he’s still capable of playing well, when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, he also showed us that he can’t stay healthy any more. Peters injured his quad (thigh) early in the season and it forced him to take himself out of numerous games. It got to the point where during the games that he played, I was wondering, “When is Peters going to go down today?” He also suffered a torn bicep and the big guy was bothered by a back injury throughout the season.
In my opinion, it’s time for the Eagles to say “good-bye” to Jason Peters. Peters is such an impactful leader on the team that keeping him around would leave the door open for his teammates to be looking to him for production that he can no longer provide. It’s never easy to part with guys who were great players, but it may just be time for Peters.
“Backup left tackle Halapoulavaati Vaitai has showed us that he can play the left tackle tackle position and do a pretty good job, if he knows that he’s the starter and he’s getting all of the practice reps.”
Another reason to say good-bye to Peters is the salary cap. In the near future, the Eagles will need additional funds to start paying Carson Wentz at least $25 million a year, which is the going rate for a franchise quarterback. They can’t afford to spend $10 million dollars on a player who may not play from week to week. They’ll need to start making cuts in other areas and now is a good time to start. If they release Peters they will save $8 million dollars against the cap for his $10 million dollar a year salary.
Backup left tackle Halapoulavaati Vaitai has showed us that he can play the left tackle tackle position and do a pretty good job, if he knows that he’s the starter and he’s getting all of the practice reps. If he’s not getting the practice reps, when you put them in game it takes him a while to start playing quality football. Vaitai needs to be more consistent with proper pass blocking techniques. He has to guard against losing his focus at times and he’s got get more disciplined from play-to-play. Vaitai needs to realize the urgency that now is his time to do the job.
It’s not only time for Big V to step up, but the time is coming for the Australian prodigy, Jordan Mailota. The former rugby player is an amazing athlete and tremendous prospect. His upside is frightening, but I don’t know if he’s going to be ready in the next year.
Mailota has got amazing potential. I think he’s be ready to play in 2020 if he works at it. He is an athletic freak. You’re talking about a man who is 6’8″, who weighs 345 pounds with amazing arm length and athletic ability. The Eagles offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland, is very high on Jordan and he has been stunned by the development he’s shown in his first training camp and preseason games. He has the athleticism of Peters, only he’s much bigger, stronger and his arms are much longer.
Arm length is very important in offensive linemen because long arms allow you to get your hands on your opponent before he can get his hands on you. It’s a huge advantage and Mailota has this. He has the potential to be the dominant left tackle in the NFL, they’ve got to develop him this off season. Right now, the left tackle job would be Big V’s, if they release Peters.
The Birds will be hoping to get back Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks who tore his Achilles tendon in the playoff game loss to the New Orleans Saints, as soon as possible. Some say he’s going to be back eight months, others say nine months, and other say ten months. Who knows? Whatever the time it’s going to take him to get back on the field, chances are it’s going to take him much longer to return to the level of outstanding play that we were getting from him prior to the injury.
You are probably going to see veteran Stefen Wisniewski step in there at the starting right guard position until Brandon returns. Wiz is dependable and smart, but he isn’t the road grader that Brooks is. Brandon is one of the two or three best run blocking guards in the game today. If you noticed, the Eagles’ ability to run up the middle disappeared against the Saints once Brooks left the game. He’s about as thick as an Oak tree trunk. Brandon can get movement at the point of attack. Hopefully he gets back sooner than later.
“Arm length is very important in offensive linemen because long arms allow you to get your hands on your opponent before he can get his hands on you.”
You’ll have Isaac Seumalo at the left guard position. He played well this season especially as a run blocker, but he still needs to improve his pass blocking. Seumalo needs to learn to not be overly aggressive as a pass blocker. He’s got to be patient.
Of course, you’ve got Jason Kelce at the center position. He’s a great player and key leader on the football team. Kelce was voted to the first team All-Pro team this year. It clearly means a lot of people in and around the National Football League consider him to be the best center.
He’s the leader of that offensive line. He’s very smart and athletic. Kelce is the best center in the league when it comes to getting downfield in front of screens and draws. He plays with passion, smarts and all his heart, which I think is a motivating factor for the rest of the guys on that line. The Eagles aren’t the same football team without Jason Kelce and he will be back next year but going forward he might not play as long as a lot of people would hope. Kelce let it be known that after each season he puts everything on the table including retirement. There was a report claiming that he was going to retire this year, but made it clear he is playing in 2019.
Lane Johnson will be the right tackle and he’s as good as any in the NFL. The former Oklahoma Sooner was upset late in the season when he found that he didn’t get voted to the Pro Bowl this year. He took his anger out on the guys he was blocking late in the season. He did a great job of dominating outstanding pass rushers like JJ Watt and Khalil Mack down the stretch of the season and the playoffs. Johnson did such a great job on Watt and Mack, that it was hard to tell whether they were out there playing in the game or not. The big fella is in his prime and he’s one of the best offensive tackles in the game.
While the Birds will have to make some big decisions on some really good players, it does seem that they have the guys who are ready to step up to the job. The Eagles need to think ahead and figure out which guys they want to invest in for the coming season and who they think is ready for the big stage.