Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Projecting starting offensive line in 2021

Eagles

Thanks for all your great questions.

We answered many of them in the last two days:

Part 1.

Part 2.

The Eagles are interviewing their 345th head coaching candidate today so while we wait to find out who they’re going to hire, let’s get to some more:

There are a couple main questions to consider as we try to predict the Week 1 offensive line in 2021:

1. Is Jason Kelce going to come back for another season?

I really don’t know. It was a miserable season and Kelce is 33 and at the point in his career where he’s going to contemplate retirement after each season. He spoke highly of Doug Pederson during the season and then Pederson was fired after the season ended. And then Jeff Lurie talked about a retooling period the Eagles are about to go through. Meanwhile, the future of his position coach, Jeff Stoutland, is also in the air. So there are plenty of reasons for him to retire.

But there’s also a chance he doesn’t want his last NFL season to end the way 2020 did. I don’t claim to know what he’s thinking but that might factor in.

2. Who is the left tackle?

Jordan Mailata played really well during 2020, but the Eagles drafted Andre Dillard for a reason. Pederson hinted that this would be a competition in training camp in 2021 but now Pederson’s gone. Will management press the next head coach to play the first-round draft pick? It seems possible, but if it’s a fair competition, I expect Mailata to win it.

 

So here’s what I came up with:

LT: Jordan Mailata

LG: Isaac Seumalo

C: Jason Kelce

RG: Brandon Brooks

RT: Lane Johnson

I’m really torn on Kelce. If he doesn’t retire, this is the lineup they’ll go with. If he does retire, my best guess is that Seumalo slides inside to center and Nate Herbig plays left guard. Of course, this could all change depending on what happens in the draft. If they draft a high-round player, they might start immediately.

I don’t think Pederson got fired on purpose but I think he recognized it was probably time for a change. I think this was a reasonably amicable divorce because both sides clearly weren’t seeing eye to eye and it seems like Pederson had become frustrated with the setup within the organization. All that talk we heard a while ago that he wouldn’t be that broken up about getting fired speaks to that. The relationship had run its course.

For the record, I don’t think the Eagles should have fired Pederson. I think the best organizations find stability and I think it would have been worth keeping him to see if he could work his way out of this. But I think there was probably a sense of relief on Pederson’s side.

This prompt for questions became a lot like Jeff Lurie’s press conference last week: It ended up being all about Howie Roseman.

For what it’s worth, I thought it was fair that the press conference turned into a bunch of questions about Roseman. Because it certainly seemed like the head coach was scapegoated while the real cause for a lot of the problems not only kept his job but has been empowered to help lead a new coaching search.

We all see the mistakes Roseman has made over the last few years. And those mistakes are the reason the Eagles are in this situation. But let’s never underestimate the relationship between Roseman and Lurie. Because all those moves Roseman made, Lurie either signed off on them individually or signed off on them in a greater sense by continuing to entrust Roseman with those decisions.

My colleague Reuben Frank had a great piece last week, trying to examine the way Lurie sees Roseman.

Because that’s the real issue. We call it a blindspot for Roseman but it’s more than that. Lurie’s intimate knowledge of the process makes him care more about that process than the results. I, of course, think that’s faulty logic, but it’s important to understand his thought process.

Sure. It’s not guaranteed the Eagles will take a receiver in the first round. I like both of those players — Chase is still my guy — and the Eagles need receivers, but they have a lot of needs.

 

They could go corner: Patrick Surtain or Caleb Farley could be in the mix. They could go OL: Penei Sewell. They could go DL (maybe a trade back). And they could even take a QB. That’s something they have to think about being this high in draft order, either taking a QB at 6 or moving up higher to get their guy. 

Sorry for making Carson throw those 15 picks and for making Pederson not see eye to eye with the front office.

Look, this is a tough market. I’ll admit that. There are a ton of reporters covering the Eagles and that’s unique in itself. But I have always viewed this media market as a reflection of the fanbase. There wouldn’t be this many reporters covering a team people didn’t care about. And in a season like this, when we all watched that slop on the field, fans deserve answers. Does it create some added pressure? Sure. But this is a way better dynamic than being in a city that doesn’t care.

Yeah, I think they have a shot. I like what I’ve seen so far. And they finally have that stud goalie. That goes a long way. See, I can talk pucks too. Watch your back, Jordan Hall.

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