Last time Andre Dillard started a football game, it did not go well.
He lasted until halftime.
It was 22 months ago, and Dillard made an emergency start in place of Lane Johnson at right tackle, a position he had never played and had barely practiced.
Dillard hadn't done badly in three starts at left tackle earlier in the year when Jason Peters was hurt, but he was so bad against the Seahawks that he got benched at halftime and replaced by Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who had already replaced Brandon Brooks at right guard. That forced the Eagles to insert Matt Pryor at right guard.
In other words, the Eagles believed they had a better lineup with Pryor than with Dillard. The Eagles lost 17-9 and Dillard has played only a handful of snaps since.
Now here we are two years later and Dillard will be making his first start — and getting his first meaningful snaps — since that disaster against the Seahawks. He replaces Jordan Mailata back at his more comfortable left tackle spot against the Cowboys Monday night in Arlington, Texas.
Mailata sprained his knee at practice on Thursday and won’t play Monday night.
What Dillard will we see? We know he’s more comfortable at left tackle than right tackle. And he did look better in training camp this year than as a rookie. After missing all last year, he’s bigger and stronger than two years ago. And the last time we saw him play — in the preseason finale against the Jets — he acquitted himself well.
Nick Sirianni said he can only judge Dillard by what he’s seen since he got here, and he said based on that he has full confidence in the 25-year-old former first-round pick.
“I've seen him have confidence,” Sirianni said Saturday. “I've seen him be able to shut the pass rush down in our practice. We gave him a couple different looks of different scout team players to go against, and I feel really confident in Andre, and he should feel confident in himself.
“I can't say what happened in the past here. Since I've gotten here, I've had complete confidence in him. I know he had that injury that set him back a little bit in training camp, but I've had complete confidence in him ever since I've got here, and then he gets that Jets game and the Jets practices and the New England practices, and I just think he's looked really good.
“Based off what I've seen, I've got a ton of confidence in Andre. Obviously, it's a bummer that Jordan can't play, but I look forward to the challenge that Andre has and looking forward to watching him step up and fill Jordan's role and have a good game.”
With DeMarcus Lawrence out, the Cowboys have just two sacks the first two weeks of the season — one by Leighton Vander Esch, who always seems to play well against the Eagles, and one by rookie linebacker-edge rusher Micah Parsons, the former Penn State star.
With Brooks still out with his latest injury, rookie Landon Dickerson will make his first career start at right guard. So here we are three weeks into the season and the Eagles are missing 40 percent of their offensive line. And solid backup Jack Driscoll remains on Injured Reserve.
After last year, the Eagles should be used to this. Jeff Stoutland did a masterful job last year navigating the line through injury after injury and 14 different starting lines in 16 games.
Now it will be 15 different starting lines in 19 games.
“Stout does a lot of work in there getting a lot more walk-throughs than we even get,” Sirianni said. “He's going and doing walk-throughs during meeting times as well. They've had a ton of communication back and forth with each other, so as far as the communication and a chemistry standpoint, I've got no worries there. This is a really tight unit, not just one through five but one through 10.”