The Eagles expected their offensive line to be a strength in 2020 and it should have been.
Because, sure, they decided to move on from future Hall of Famer Jason Peters, but they were replacing him with a first-round pick who got a year of NFL experience as a backup as a rookie. Everywhere else, they were prepared to run it back.
Remember, this is the offensive line the Eagles wanted in 2020:
LT: Andre Dillard
LG: Isaac Seumalo
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Brandon Brooks
RT: Lane Johnson
The offense line they’ve ended up with has been very different. Heck, it’s been very different just about every week.
Even before the season began, the Eagles lost Brandon Brooks to a torn Achilles in June. But no worries, they then brought back Peters to replace him at right guard. Everything was going to be OK.
But from there, Andre Dillard tore his biceps in August. So before the season even began, the Eagles lost 2/5ths of their OL. We should have known that wasn’t going to be it.
Eventually, the Eagles moved Peters back to left tackle with a pay bump and set out on a 2020 season in which they have changed their offensive line nearly every week.
With Friday’s news that Peters is going back to right guard and that Johnson is done for the season, the Eagles have already guaranteed that they’ll have their 10th different offensive line through 11 games of this miserable season.
Here’s how it happened:
Week 1 at WAS: Peters, Seumalo, Kelce, Herbig, Driscoll
Instead of having two Pro Bowlers anchor the right side of the line, the Eagles ended up starting a second year UDFA and a rookie fourth-round pick out there. Johnson had tightrope surgery on his left ankle before the season and wasn’t quite ready for Week 1, so Driscoll, the rookie from Auburn, started in his place.
The bigger surprise was that Nate Herbig got the start over Matt Pryor. After all, when Brooks missed the playoff game in January, it was Pryor who started in his place. But Herbig, a UDFA out of Stanford in 2019, had shown enough in practice to surpass Pryor on the depth chart. He made his first-career NFL start.
Week 2 vs. LAR: Peters, Seumalo, Kelce, Herbig, Johnson
After missing Week 1, Johnson felt good enough to return to action for the Rams game and played 69 of 71 snaps. When he exited the lineup for those two plays, Driscoll took his place.
The big news in Week 2 was that Isaac Seumalo hurt his knee after just 25 plays. He was put on IR and needed knee surgery. He would miss a couple months.
Week 3 vs. CIN: Peters, Herbig, Kelce, Pryor, Johnson
With Seumalo on IR, the Eagles turned to Pryor. But because Pryor was much more comfortable on the right side of the line, they moved Herbig to left guard and put Pryor between Kelce and Johnson.
This was the overtime game against the Bengals and four of the Eagles’ five offensive linemen played all 91 snaps. The only guy who didn’t was Peters, who played 89 of 91.
Week 4 at SFO: Mailata, Herbig, Kelce, Pryor, Johnson
The Eagles were hoping to run back that Week 3 offensive line, but that didn’t happen. Peters missed the first two days of practice that week with illness and then on Friday reported to the team that he felt some discomfort in his foot/toe. He was placed on Injured Reserve the Saturday before the Eagles-49ers game in Week 4 and we learned that Jordan Mailata was going to make his first NFL start.
Against the 49ers, the Eagles pulled off a 25-20 upset win. But Johnson lasted just 37 of 62 snaps.
Week 5 at PIT: Mailata, Herbig, Kelce, Pryor, Johnson
Hey! It finally looked like the Eagles found some consistency. They actually got to run back their offensive line for the first (and only) time all season. But Johnson’s ankle continued to be a problem. He played just 39 of 59 snaps in this one.
Week 6 vs. BAL: Mailata, Herbig, Kelce, Brown, Driscoll
After leaving back-to-back games early with that ankle injury, Johnson needed to take a seat against the Ravens, which meant Driscoll was back in the starting lineup. And the Eagles had a new right guard because Pryor was put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after he had close contact with someone who tested positive.
Veteran Jamon Brown got the start and was a complete disaster. He had one of the worst offensive line performances we have ever seen. And when Jack Driscoll hurt his ankle during the game, the Eagles were forced to play project offensive tackle Brett Toth, who didn’t even pass block at Army.
Week 7 vs. NYG: Mailata, Opeta, Kelce, Herbig, Johnson
The Eagles had to play the Giants on a short week so even though Pryor was activated off the COVID-19 list in time he didn’t get any practice reps and didn’t play. After watching Brown in Week 6, there was no way the Eagles could play him again and actually cut him, later adding him to their practice squad. So the Eagles moved Herbig back to right guard and played Sua Opeta at left guard, where he feels more comfortable.
Johnson returned for this game and played 60 of 81 snaps. When he came out, Pryor filled in at right tackle.
Week 8 vs. DAL: Peters, Herbig, Kelce, Pryor, Mailata
In the game before the bye week, the Eagles sat Johnson in an attempt to let him rest that ankle and a knee injury that had developed off of it. Peters was able to return from IR, so he went back at left tackle and then the Eagles slid Mailata to the other side to fill in for Johnson. So this was Mailata’s first career start at right tackle. Pryor was back in the starting lineup with practice time to prepare.
All five offensive linemen played every snap (63/63) in this game. It was the first time all season that had happened.
Week 10 at NYG: Peters, Opeta, Kelce, Pryor, Johnson
After the bye week, Johnson returned to the starting lineup, which meant Mailata went back to the bench. The Eagles decided to stick with their aging left tackle in Peters. The surprise of the week, though, was that Opeta had taken over for Herbig at left tackle. It seemed like Herbig had played fairly well. But he had also injured his finger/hand and it was thought that the injury played a role in his being behind Opeta and Pryor.
While it was a different lineup than in Week 8, all five of those guys played all 67 snaps against the Giants in Week 10.
Week 11 at CLE: Peters, Seumalo, Kelce, Pryor, Johnson
After missing seven games with a knee injury and surgery, Seumalo returned off of IR and was plugged back into his spot at left guard. That sent Opeta to the bench. But the Eagles kept Pryor at right guard. After the game, Doug Pederson confirmed that Herbig, who was inactive, had simply fallen behind Opeta and Pryor on the depth chart.
During this game, things got a little wild. Peters and Johnson left early, which meant Mailata went to left tackle and Driscoll went to right tackle. But after Driscoll got hurt, Pryor went to right tackle and Opeta filled in at right guard.
Even Kelce left the game for four snaps and UDFA Luke Juriga filled in.
Week 12 vs. SEA: Mailata, Seumalo, Kelce, Peters, Pryor
For this upcoming week, the Eagles will again have a very different lineup. Johnson is done for the season and Peters has been moved to right guard. That means Mailata will take over at left tackle, where he started four games earlier this season. And since Driscoll is getting over a knee injury, it’s expected that Pryor will take over at right tackle.
It’s been a crazy season for the offensive line. And there are still six games left.
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