Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Dickerson’s position, Dillard’s start and more

Eagles

With the Eagles’ playing on Monday Night Football, we had plenty of time this weekend to get to some of your questions.

I asked on Twitter and we got a ton of responses. We’ll go through half today and half tomorrow as we wait for Eagles-Cowboys.

Let’s get to it:

It’s a good question because the Eagles have given Dickerson snaps at both center and guard since he returned to practice. In fact, he got center snaps first. But with his size (6-6, 333) he definitely has the body type and power to be a guard. In fact, that size is more prototypical of a guard than a center.

That’s what will make the next month or two so fascinating. It really feels like this will be a trial run for Dickerson. And I agree with your assessment. If Dickerson thrives at the guard position, I think that’s where he may fit in long-term, whether that’s on the left side or right.

This past offseason, the Eagles were listening to offers for Brandon Brooks. Not only is he 32 but Brooks has struggled to stay healthy. Brooks is a great player and a great guy in the locker room, but it seems like everyone here gets the situation. He might not be here much longer.

Then there’s the Kelce question. If this is his final year, then the Eagles will have to decide on his replacement. It could be Dickerson or it could be Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo has played mostly guard all six of his years but there’s no reason to think he couldn’t play center if Kelce hangs ‘em up. Seumalo is a really smart player and would be able to shift inside. That would give the Eagles options with Dickerson.

 

Ultimately, I think with his size and strength, Dickerson will end up being a starting guard for the Eagles. Some other factors will determine what side that’s on.

I get why everyone is down on Dillard. He’s been a disappointment as a first-round pick and he wasn’t very good in training camp; that’s what made it such an easy decision, even without his injury, to go with Jordan Mailata. There’s no question that Mailata is simply a better player and the Eagles would clearly be better off with him on the field than Dillard. But I have a hunch Dillard won’t be awful in Dallas. The Eagles might help him out a little more than we saw with Mailata last week (he was on an island with Nick Bosa for a lot of that game and looked great).

But Dillard is more comfortable on the left side of the line and in those three starts back in 2019, he was decent. In fact, he made his first career start against the Cowboys that year. He gave up five pressures and a sack in that one but was much better in his following two starts against the Bills and Bears.

In this game, he’ll see a lot of Randy Gregory, who is a solid player but not a star. It’ll obviously be a matchup worth watching, but I’m not sure Dillard will be awful.

It’s just two games, so I wouldn’t assume what we’ve seen from Jalen Hurts against Atlanta and San Francisco is all we’ll see of him this year. But of those two things, the bigger concern is not throwing to the middle of the field. You just simply can’t go a season without picking up yardage in the middle of the field and the Eagles know that. Maybe there has been a concerted effort to throw outside the hashes, but throwing into the middle is a big part of the game. There should be some opportunity for that in Dallas.

As far as his scrambles, I know he’s been running quite a bit and is the Eagles’ leading rusher, but he’s actually handled those situations fine. There have been a few instances where Hurts has left the pocket too soon, but that’s always going to be a fine line. And the thing I really like about him as a runner is his ability to avoid big hits. We’ve seen some quarterbacks here in the past (Carson Wentz, Mike Vick), who struggled to avoid contact, whether they just made poor decisions or weren’t good at sliding. Hurts seems to have a natural understanding of when to fight for yards and when to save his body. When he runs, I don’t hold my breath.

 

Man, we’re already getting questions about the 2022 offseason. I don’t know yet because I don’t know how good DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor (and even Quez Watkins) are going to be. If they end up really shining this season, then maybe there’s no reason to sink money into a big-time free agent receiver.

But I guess in this scenario, we’re saying Smith and Reagor are just OK and there’s a little void? If that happens, then sure, the Eagles could sign another receiver. If Smith is the No. 2 to a big-time free agent, that’s OK. Plenty of offenses can thrive with 1a and 1b options. Part of me thinks Smith will show himself to be a true No. 1 by the end of the season, though.

The Eagles have just three running backs on their active roster: Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott. Jordan Howard is on their practice squad and is a possible elevation candidate week to week. But I’m not so sure the Eagles really need a big-bodied back.

My guess is you’re looking at the goal line situation from last week where the Eagles failed to get into the end zone. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a big, bruising running back for those situations. Sure, sometimes those guys are great at getting in the end zone. But one of Scott’s best attributes is his ability at the goal line. He’s short, stout and has the ability to get behind his blocks and push into the end zone. If I were Nick Sirianni, that’s where I’d use Scott. Not to mention, Scott is a special teamer, whereas Howard hasn’t really played much on teams for the Eagles.

None of that is to say Howard won’t have a role with the Eagles in 2021. I was actually impressed with how he looked in training camp. And I think he’d be a really good option if Sanders is ever injured. Howard is the kind of back who can handle 15-20 carries per game if the Eagles ever need it.

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