Jeff Stoutland’s message to all his offensive linemen is always the same:
Understandable considering the Eagles have used 18 different offensive lines in their last 20 games. That includes four left tackles, four left guards, six right guards and five right tackles. (And one center, of course.)
Incredibly, seven different Eagles offensive linemen have made their first NFL start since opening day last year.
On Sunday morning, when Stoutland got word that Lane Johnson was unavailable, it meant Nate Herbig would start at right guard and Jack Driscoll would start at right tackle instead of right guard on top of Landon Dickerson already making his first career start at left guard and Andre Dillard subbing for Jordan Mailata at left tackle.
This was o-line chaos.
And just a month into the season, the Eagles were down to their sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth linemen.
“He just always preaches it’s next man up, and that’s one thing that you really have to embrace in our room because you’re only dressing eight guys so you really have to be ready to play any position,” Driscoll said.
“Coach Stout does a great job moving us around at practice, getting us reps at guard, tackle, center, if you’re an interior guy, whatever. Just so you’re ready in a game because you really never know what’s going to happen.
“Like the situation last Sunday, it’s not like anybody saw it coming, so it’s one of those things where you have to adapt. He’s really into adapting and adjusting and having the best guys out there. I don’t want to go out there and let my teammates down because I’m playing a different position. We didn’t win but ultimately you don’t want to contribute to a loss.”
With only Kelce left from opening day, the o-line played well in the loss to the Chiefs. The Eagles amassed 461 yards of offense, scored 30 points and allowed only three sacks on 51 Jalen Hurts drop-backs.
And that was with four backup linemen who had made a combined total of 22 career starts going into the game.
“We practice so much next to each other and no matter who’s across from you, Stout just preaches fundamentals,” Driscoll said. “Herbie and I are backups but I played a lot next to him last year and in camp as well, so I felt comfortable with him and I think everybody just went out there and said, look, we can’t let the team down. We know they have a good front seven and it’s our job to execute whether it’s five backups or five starters. Whoever’s in there, you can’t miss a beat.”
You know that stat about 18 different offensive line combos in 20 games since opening day last year?
That number is likely about to go up.
With Mailata back at practice this week but Johnson likely still out, there’s a good chance Mailata will make his second career start at right tackle and Driscoll will make his first career start at right guard when the Eagles face the Panthers in Charlotte. That’s along with Dickerson making his second career start at left guard and Dillard his sixth start at left tackle.
Driscoll was the emergency opening-day starter at right tackle in last year’s opener, and he said that experience helped him get ready for his emergency start against K.C. at a position he hadn't practiced all year.
“Last year I learned pretty quickly you can get thrown in the fire and sometimes it’s better to just be thrown in the fire,” he said. “You don’t have time to be nervous, you don’t have time to overthink it, and coach Stout says just focus on your fundamentals and that’s what helped me both times, just focus on my technique, control what I can control and go out there and play my hardest.
“Whatever I can do to help the team win, even on short notice, it’s kind of what you’re expected to do. Go out there and execute.”
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