Eagles Insider

Doug Pederson's explanation for Jason Peters move doesn't add up

Eagles Insider

Doug Pederson tried to use Lane Johnson's injury as his reason to move Jason Peters from left tackle to right guard and get Jordan Mailata back to left tackle.

But it doesn't add up.

Here's how Pederson, meeting the media Saturday morning for the first time since the latest offensive line shuffle, explained the move, first reported Friday by NBCSP's John Clark.

"With obviously the news of Lane Johnson, we, and some of the conversations that some of you guys don't have privvied information to — or maybe you do, I don't know — but earlier in the week these conversations led us to make these decisions."

Johnson, the Eagles' three-time Pro Bowl right tackle, announced Friday he's out for the year with a lingering ankle injury that will require surgery.

That would seem to be unrelated to whether or not Peters stays at left tackle. 

Pederson confirmed Saturday what Johnson said Friday, that Matt Pryor will start at right tackle Monday night against the Seahawks. 

But if the Eagles were truly happy with the way Peters has been playing, they wouldn't be moving him from the position where he's built up a Hall of Fame resume to right guard, no matter who's playing right tackle.

If Peters were playing well, it would make sense to keep him at left tackle and play Mailata at right tackle in place of Johnson and then use Pryor at right guard, where he's started five games this year.

 

But it's clear to everybody — including the Eagles — that Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler, has struggled this year at left tackle and that his performance against the Browns may have been the worst of his career.

The Eagles may not want to admit it, but their actions speak louder than their words.

Mailata started four games at left tackle while Peters was hurt earlier this year and played at a high level. He also started the win over the Cowboys at right tackle. The Eagles are 3-2 this year when Mailata starts and 1-4-1 when Peters starts.

But the 38-year-old Peters is an all-time Eagles great and it seems like Pederson doesn't want to come out and admit that Mailata, a 23-year-old Australian rugby player and 7th-round pick who had never played an NFL snap until two months ago, is simply the Eagle' best option at left tackle.

It can't be easy to bench a living legend, and moving Peters inside to guard — where his lack of athleticism should be easier to hide — makes sense.

As for Mailata, he'll now have a chance to build on the four games he started earlier this year in advance of a possible showdown in 2021 training camp with former 1st-round pick Andre Dillard, who's out for the year.

"I'm excited for J.P., he's excited, great opportunity for him," Pederson said. "He's obviously a tremendous player, a tremendous Eagle."

And Mailata?

"Mailata has played well, he's been consistent, he played good the other day, so he gets another start at left tackle," Pederson said.

How difficult is it to build chemistry on the offensive line this way? This will be the Eagles' 10th different starting offensive line in 11 games.

"It's a challenge," Pederson said. "I'll say this, that the guys that are playing now are guys that have played all season. They've gotten a lot of reps. Other than Isaac, who's working himself back in, but he's a veteran player, all these guys have played each week. It is a challenge to get that continuity and consistency but having played together gives them confidence to play as a unit and go play."

That's not really the case. 

Peters missed four games and Isaac Seumalo missed five games. And this will be Mailata's first start at left tackle since the the first Giants' game, Seumalo's first start ever next to Mailata, Peters' first career start at guard and first time playing next to Jason Kelce and Pryor's first regular-season start ever at right tackle.

"Obviously, continuity is a big part of (playing) offensive line," Kelce said. "Having reps with the same guys and the same spots over and over again is only going to make things better. But at the end of the day, we've had a lot of injuries, we've had a lot of things that haven't allowed that to happen. And you still got to go out and execute. 

 

"Part of being a professional, part of being accountable, is going out there and doing your job, regardless of the circumstances. Find a way to get it done. We're all just trying to do our part and trying to do everything we can to facilitate a successful offensive line. We're starting to get a little healthy now. So hopefully we'll be able to start to build some of the cohesion and everything moving forward through the end of the season."

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