Jordan Mailata didn’t grow up playing football, but he gets it.
As an offensive lineman, as a left tackle, his main job is to protect the quarterback. And much like Jason Peters before him, Mailata is a bodyguard of sorts.
So when he saw Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport give Jalen Hurts a late push out of bounds in the first quarter of Sunday’s 40-29 win, the 6-foot-8, 365-pound Mailata wasn’t happy.
And he let him know.
“For me, it’s protecting my family,” Mailata said. “… All these guys on the team, are my family. And so for me, protecting my family is what made me do that. For me, seeing my brother get hit, pushed out of bounds late, it didn’t roll with my right.”
The Eagles in recent weeks have established a physical, nasty identity en route to winning three of four.
Mailata, their most physically imposing player by a long shot, embodied that identity on Sunday.
Later in the first half, things boiled over with Davenport. Mailata blocked the 6-6, 265-pound defensive end to the ground, which led to a mini Royal Rumble at the 22-yard line.
“I think the biggest thing for me the biggest thing was all the extra stuff he was doing to Jalen,” Mailata said. “I’m a big boy, I can handle myself. But I think seeing him getting pushed out of bounds and even when Jalen is breaking the pockets and he’s throwing the ball, he’s getting hit late by No. 92, Davenport. For me, it kind of built up and the frustration was kind of like, ‘Once I get the opportunity, I’m going to do something to this dude.’”
Mailata, 24, celebrated after the win by posting a photo of the moment with the location set to “IHOP,” the international house of pancakes — as in pancake blocks. A fitting term.
“I was being a little cheeky,” Mailata said. “That’s all that was.”
The officials didn’t throw a flag on either player and the scrum was separated.
But the rest of the NFL should be on notice that there’s a damn-near literal giant on the Eagles’ offensive line who isn’t taking any crap.
“Everybody’s got a role on the team,” Jason Kelce said. “And to have a 400-pound guy that’s getting after somebody, that’s a heck of an imposing force to have on your side. It’s awesome to see that type of intensity and emotion out of a guy that size because I think other teams are probably going to take notice of that one.”
In Philadelphia, where Peters earned the nickname “The Bodyguard” for the way he protected his quarterbacks from unwarranted hits after the play, this type of enforcer is revered.
Mailata said he wants to be his own man, but he agreed that watching Peters play for the last three years taught him the importance of the role the left tackle has.
Hurts appreciates it too. The Eagles’ quarterback texted Mailata on Sunday night to thank him.
Mailata said the blowup with Davenport happened after seeing him hit Hurts late, but it apparently began with the Eagles-Saints game from 2020. Mailata remembered the Saints being “so dirty after plays” in that Week 14 win.
“For me, I wanted to set the tone early,” Mailata said. “That’s why I was the way I was Sunday. Because I wasn’t going to let that fly this year.”
In training camp, Mailata won the Eagles’ left tackle job from Andre Dillard and was then handed a contract extension. But throughout the first 11 weeks of the season, Mailata has further cemented the belief within the organization that he’s the left tackle of the future.
Now that he’s more confident in his abilities and his understanding of the offense, he’s able to play more freely. He’s able to let his athleticism and, yes, his nastiness take over at times.
Some might have the perception that Mailata is just a jovial guy, which might not always be the case.
OK, maybe it kinda is.
“No, I think that’s a good perception. I think he is a happy-go-lucky Australian guy,” Kelce said through laughter. “But he’s also a guy who can get pissed off too.”
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