Benefit of the Doubt

Posted: June 24th, 2024 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Benefit of the Doubt

The Eagles have had the best or one of the best offensive lines in the NFL for a decade. They had great players, including possible Hall of Famers. They had a great coach. Players have come and gone in that time period. Jeff Stoutland remains.

If you’re a fan of WAS/NYG/SF or Dallas, you have to be hoping this is the year the Eagles OL finally takes a step back. Jason Kelce is gone. Lane Johnson is a year older. RG is an open competition.

Let’s check some OL rankings heading into the season.

2. Eagles (Jeff Stoutland)

LT   Jordan Mailata
LG   Landon Dickerson
C   Cam Jurgens
RG   Tyler Steen/Mekhi Becton
RT   Lane Johnson

Notes: The Eagles lost future Hall-of-Fame center Jason Kelce to retirement this offseason, but they have a solid plan in place to replace him with Cam Jurgens, who Kelce himself vouched for in the pre-draft process leading up to his selection in 2022. With probably the top trio in the NFL around Jurgens in Jordan MailataLandon Dickerson, and Lane Johnson, this foursome forms a strong foundation for the 2024 season. The primary reason for keeping them outside of Tier 1 for now is the uncertainty around right guard with a pending camp battle between last year’s third-round pick Tyler Steen and free-agent signing Mekhi Becton. Between Steen starting just one game as a rookie and Becton never playing right guard, this position poses a significant question mark. Chances are Coach Stoutland will groom one of them into at least a functional starter with Jurgens’ skill set maximized at center, so forecasting Philly’s line this high isn’t as bold as it may initially seem.

The rankings were done by Brandon Thorn, who has become an expert on NFL offensive lines. This isn’t a biased take or something from a hack like Jimmy Bama. Brandon studies OL play year round. He has the Lions as the top OL and the only team that falls into his Elite category. The Eagles are in the Very Good category, mainly due to the uncertainty.

This isn’t blind faith in Stoutland. Think of all the players he’s worked with since joining the Eagles in 2013. Heck, just think about the OL that started in the Super Bowl.

LT – Halapoulivaati Vitai
LG – Stefen Wisniewski
C – Jason Kelce
RG – Brandon Brooks
RT – Lane Johnson

That group helped the Eagles put up 41 points and 538 yards of offense. Big V as the starting LT in the biggest game in franchise history. That’s crazy.

Not every player has panned out as hoped. Andre Dillard never became an effective starter, despite being a first round pick. I’m sure the Eagles would have loved for Jack Driscoll to develop into a starter. He was an effective backup, but that might be his ceiling. Other guys took a bit of time to develop. Isaac Seumalo had some ups and downs before finding a home at RG and becoming a Pro Bowl player.

There is no guarantee that Jurgens will be a stud center or that Steen will become a good RG. We’ve seen enough out of Jurgens to think there is a real chance for him to be a Pro Bowl player. With Steen, we’re focusing a lot on his resume (big, athletic, from Bama) and relying on Stoutland’s track record. There are reasons to believe, but still some doubts.

Jeff Stoutland has earned the benefit of the doubt.

*****

Compare that with say…LBs. Very different story.

The Eagles are on their third LB coach in three years. They have struggled to find capable starters on a regular basis.

Any fans and media members who question what will happen at LB have a right to be hyper-critical. We really have no idea what is going to happen. You can make an argument that things are looking up, but we really need to see evidence before truly buying in.

I do think it is fair to point out that Jeremiah Trotter Jr. has a legit shot to be the next Urlakerzzz (shoutout to all the EMB’ers out there…gone but never forgotten).

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