Eagles still following Andy Reid's philosophy on offensive linemen

Eagles still following Andy Reid's philosophy on offensive linemen

The day Andy Reid was introduced as the Eagles’ new head coach — Jan. 11, 1999 — he made it clear that building a strong offensive line was going to be one of his biggest priorities.

Maybe the biggest.

Who’s going to play quarterback? He answered by saying the important thing is that he'd be protected.

That’s how Andy Reid thinks. He played offensive line at BYU, coached offensive line in college and the NFL, always had an affinity for offensive linemen. Still does.

“The offensive linemen are the smartest guys on any football team,” Big Red said the day he was hired here, more than 20 years ago. “I’ve got to look out for my guys.”

The Eagles had allowed 56 sacks in 1998, 4th-most in the NFL, and over the previous five years they had allowed the second-most in the NFL – 253. 

From 1982, when sacks became an official stat, until 1998, the year before Reid arrived, the Eagles allowed a staggering 935 sacks — 93 more than any other NFL team.

When Reid arrived, the Eagles had gone 20 years without a decent offensive line and hadn’t had a lineman make a Pro Bowl since Jerry Sisemore in 1981.

Names like Antone Davis, Ron Solt, Reggie Singletary, Mike Zandofsky, Bruce Collie, Ben Tamburello and Matt Darwin became punchlines around here.

And — not coincidentally — the Eagles hadn't been very good, either. They won just two wild-card games in the 20 years before Reid took over.

When did the Eagles start winning? When they finally had decent offensive lines.

When we look back at Reid’s legacy in Philadelphia, the most important thing he did was introduce a new emphasis on building around the two lines, an emphasis that continues more than two decades after he first arrived here. 

The Eagles have always had great defensive lines, but developing a quality o-line was critical for Reid and Joe Banner, who built those early playoff teams under Reid.

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson both learned under Big Red and share his philosophy and have continued to make the O-line a priority.

The last 20 years, the Eagles have the No. 5 offense in the NFL and they’ve had an incredible 10 offensive linemen go to a total of 26 Pro Bowls, most in the NFL.

In the last 20 years, Eagles offensive linemen have been picked to more Pro Bowl teams than in the previous 54 years combined in which there was a Pro Bowl or NFL all-star game.

Who’s the left tackle on the all-time Eagles team? Jason Peters.

Who’s the center? Jason Kelce.

Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks are on their way there.

There are seven offensive linemen in franchise history who've made at least three Pro Bowls and all but Hall of Famers Jim Ringo and Bob Brown played for either Andy Reid or Doug Pederson. Roseman had his hand in acquiring four of them.

The Eagles have the 5th-best record in the NFL since 2000. Only the Colts and Packers have reached the playoffs more. 

They’ve been one of the most successful franchise in the league for two decades, and they’ve won football games a lot of different ways, but the hallmark of this franchise since the day Reid first set foot in Philadelphia has been strong offensive lines.

A lot of this has to do with Juan Castillo and Jeff Stoutland, who've coached the Eagles' offensive line for all but two of the last 23 years. They’re two of the best in the business. 

But ultimately it’s come down to talent. 

And a franchise that’s been hit or miss at a lot of other positions has been able to consistently build elite offensive lines during this entire stretch, despite a couple notable misfires.

If you’re looking for one thing that ties together all the good Eagles teams of the last generation it’s gifted offensive linemen.

Thomas. Peters. Kelce. Brooks. Johnson. Runyan.

Now, Peters is gone, Kelce is 32, Johnson and Brooks are 30. 

Isaac Seumalo looks solid and we’ll see about Andre Dillard.

It’s up to Roseman to keep the pipeline going, a pipeline that’s helped guide the Eagles to two decades of success and a Super Bowl championship. A pipeline started 20 years ago by Andy Reid.

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Chris Long calls DeSean Jackson's posts a "f---ing disaster'

Chris Long calls DeSean Jackson's posts a "f---ing disaster'

Former Eagles defensive end Chris Long called DeSean Jackson’s social media posts citing fake Hitler quotes a “f—ing disaster” during his most recent Green Light podcast.

Long, who starred on the 2017 Eagles Super Bowl team, retired last May after an 11-year career. He and Jackson were never teammates.

But Long said he’s met Jackson and has always liked him but condemned Jackson’s posts and also said he was disappointed more people haven’t denounced Jackson over the last several days.

Long's popular weekly podcast is ranked No. 3 in the country among NFL podcasts according to Apple Podcasts.

Some excerpts from Long’s five-minute response in response to a question from a listener named In the Sky:

His initial reaction: “Quoting Hitler is really bad business but quoting fake Hitler quotes is like a cherry on top. I don’t know if it would be worse if you quoted a real one or the fake one.”

On people defending DeSean: “Maybe I don’t get it. I saw a ton of people defending him on Twitter somehow, which is another reason why Twitter sucks. … The guy made a mistake. It’s a bad mistake. … He talked bad about Jewish people and somehow managed to use a fake Hitler quote doing it and that is a f---ing disaster.”

On disappointment with the reaction he’s seen: “I can’t speak for the many people in the media or on Twitter who kind of bite their tongue on this thing, because when it comes to anit-semitism it’s not in vogue to denounce it or they have some political inclination that complicates denouncing it, but I think it’s f---ed up, unequivocally. … It doesn’t seem like it’s in vogue to call out anti-semitism. We’re not so keen on that. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like we’re not allowed to say, ‘Hey that’s not good.’ It’s not good. It’s wrong and I’m sure I have Jewish listeners and I haven’t seen nearly enough people saying, ‘Yeah, man, this was a mis-step.’”

On what he hopes happens next: ”We want people to change. It doesn’t look like he’s going to get cut, and that’s fine, I’m not saying he should, but he’s a role model and we gave it to Drew Brees pretty hard for being at the very best extremely tone deaf, and certainly anti-semitism is not the main event in this country, but we can walk and chew gum here. …  Hopefully DeSean learns from it from people outside the building. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but not a lot of Jewish guys playing at the NFL level. I’m sure he has a lot of Jewish fans who are disappointed. I think he’s better than that and I hope he’s learned from it.”

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More on the Eagles

Sports Uncovered Podcast: How to listen to episode on Barret Robbins' Super Bowl disappearance

NBC Sports

Sports Uncovered Podcast: How to listen to episode on Barret Robbins' Super Bowl disappearance

Had the Eagles won the 2002 NFC Championship Game, they would've faced the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, and possibly rewritten franchise history.

It also may have changed the life of former Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins, the Pro Bowl center who spent the day before the Super Bowl bar-hopping and drinking before ultimately missing the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It stands as one of the strangest Super Bowl stories of all-time.

In the fifth episode of NBC Sports' "Sports Uncovered" podcast series, "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl", NBC Sports Bay Area takes a deep dive into Robbins' story, from his early diagnosis with depression in college to the self-destructive day of drinking that took him all the way into Mexico.

The episode features interviews with Robbins' former teammates like Barry Sims, former Raiders executives like Bruce Allen, and more.

The episode releases Thursday, July 9. You can listen to this episode and the entire "Sports Uncovered" series by subscribing for free wherever you listen to podcasts.

To catch every episode, be sure to subscribe to "Sports Uncovered" and have every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is available on the MyTeams app and on every major podcasting platform: Apple, Google Podcast, iHeart, Stitcher, Spotify, and TuneIn

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