Jason Peters

At least Eagles’ defense is playing well enough to win right now

At least Eagles’ defense is playing well enough to win right now

The Eagles say they don’t point fingers and they shouldn’t. 

Team unity and all that. 

“We’re a team,” Doug Pederson said after Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. “And when we win, we win as a team. When we lose, we lose as a team. Today, we lost as a team.”

The Eagles don’t point fingers. So I’ll do it for them. 

In back-to-back weeks the Eagles’ defense has given up 17 points to offenses led by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Eagles’ defense has done more than enough for the Eagles to win these two games. 

The offense has failed them. 

Maybe that’s to be expected. On Sunday, after Brandon Brooks left the game, the Eagles were without five or six starters on that side of the ball. But that unit’s inability to make even the simplest plays and its inability to hold onto the football voids the built-in excuse. It wasn’t all Carson Wentz. It wasn’t all Doug Pederson. It wasn’t all the receivers. But that whole unit has been a mess recently. 

The Eagles held Tom Brady without a touchdown pass and lost 17-10. 

The Eagles held Russell Wilson to 215 total yards and lost 17-9. 

Wilson said the Eagles’ defense was one of the best the Seahawks played all year and they still won easily. That shouldn’t happen. 

Since Week 8, the Eagles’ defense has given up an average of 15.25 points per game. Just the Ravens have given up fewer points per game in that span. 

This isn’t the way the Eagles expected things to go. They thought they were going to have a high-flying offense and the defense would just need to be OK. But it turns out, it’s the other way around. 

The defense has gotten healthier. Fletcher Cox is back to his dominating self, Tim Jernigan returned, Nigel Bradham is back, the secondary has been stabilized by the returns of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. This defense is pretty good right now. The offense isn’t. 

Things got so bad on Sunday that when Rodney McLeod picked off a pass in the third quarter, he tried everything to score, including a pitch to Avonte Maddox, because the offense stinks so bad. 

OK, he was a little more diplomatic about it. 

“Just trying to make a play man, and flip the field position or get into the end zone,” McLeod said. “At that point in the game, how the game is going, they’re making plays on defense, we’re making plays. So anytime we can get our hands on the ball, the mentality is to try to score.”

But you were probably thinking the same thing, right? 

Once McLeod picked off that ball, you were probably thinking, “He better score because the offense sure isn’t going to.” And you were right! The Eagles punted a few plays later. 

At this point, though, the Eagles are actually lucky when they punt. Because they also turned the ball over five times on Sunday, sometimes putting their own defense in a horrible spot. Malcolm Jenkins’ message for Wentz and the offense was pretty clear on Sunday: Don’t force anything, we got you. 

Jenkins said the Eagles have to be comfortable winning games that are 12-9 or 9-6. 

On Monday, Pederson noted that eventually the offense needs to be able to put up 30-plus points, especially if this team really wants to make a playoff push. 

But, for now, Pederson didn’t disagree with Jenkins’ assessment. 

“I think right now where we are, that's a realistic approach,” he said. “That doesn't mean you go into conservative mode and it's three yards and a cloud of dust, but I do think that our offense, we talk all the time [about how] we want to finish every drive with a possible kick, whether that's a punt or a field goal, or an extra point. Those are the things that we talk about. But right now, and the way our defense has been playing, I think you have to play to that strength.”

The Eagles are right to avoid pointing fingers. They have to avoid a divisive situation. It’ll be up to their leaders to make sure it doesn’t happen. 

“There won’t be any of that,” said Jason Peters, still the intimidating Bodyguard. “Not in our locker room. Not while I am here. We’ll keep all the guys together, rally around each other and just go forward.”

But the fact is that the Eagles’ defense is playing well enough for the Eagles to go on a run. The offense just needs to stop letting the team down. 

I’m pointing the finger at them. Just please don’t tell Peters. 

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Jason Peters willing to play right tackle next week if Eagles need him

Jason Peters willing to play right tackle next week if Eagles need him

Since Jason Peters last played right tackle 13 years ago, he’s put together a Hall of Fame resume on the left side of offensive lines.

But if Lane Johnson isn’t back from his concussion next week, Peters is willing to go back to the right side of the line if the Eagles need him to.

“That’s where I started at (in Buffalo),” Peters said. “It wouldn’t be super foreign, but it’s a possibility with Lane being out. I might have to just do it for the team.”

Without Johnson in Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks, rookie Andre Dillard started in his place at right tackle, but lasted just one half. Dillard was benched to start the third quarter and was replaced by Halapoulivaati Vaitai. With Brandon Brooks out as well, that meant Matt Pryor and Vaitai were manning the right side of the line.

The Eagles during the week didn’t ever seriously consider playing Peters at right tackle because he’s been playing on the left side for so long. Instead, they gave Dillard all those first-team reps in practice.

“I’m not sure what was going on (with Dillard),” Peters said. “I just know there was a change and there had to be something going on if there was a change. We just gotta look at that tape and he’s gotta learn from it.”

Peters, 37, hasn’t played right tackle since the Week 6 of the 2006 season, when he was still with the Bills. He began that year on the right side and moved to the left side during the season.

If Peters were able to hold down the right tackle position, that would allow the Eagles to play Andre Dillard at his more natural position on the left side of the line, theoretically putting their five best players on the field.

Peters said it’s something he’ll bring up to Doug Pederson this week.

“Yeah. It’s going to be a point of emphasis this week if Lane’s not back,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help out, I might have to do it this coming up week.”

Peters has long been considered a leader in the Eagles’ locker room and offering to switch from a position where he’s had a Hall of Fame career to help the team is just the latest example.

So was his answer when asked about potential finger-pointing in the Eagles’ locker room.

“It ain’t going to be none of that, not in the locker room, not while I’m in there,” he said. “Keep all the guys together, rally around and just go forward.”

This could very well be Peters’ last season in Philadelphia and the Eagles have a disappointing 5-6 record through five games. But the playoffs are still a possibility.

Thanks to the Cowboys’ loss on Sunday night, the Eagles are one game back with five to go. 

“We gotta win out,” Peters said. “No ifs, ands or buts, we gotta win out. And that’s the bottom line. We gotta win out, point blank. We can’t be saying, ‘if this happen…’ We gotta win out. Point blank.”

If it takes Peters leaving his post for another, so be it.

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Andre Dillard's switch from left tackle to right tackle is like trying to write left-handed

Andre Dillard's switch from left tackle to right tackle is like trying to write left-handed

How challenging is it for Andre Dillard to move from left tackle to right?

"Think about it like this," Dillard said. "You probably write with your right hand, right? So all of a sudden, say you had to write a big essay with your left hand. Right now. That's basically it. Write with your left hand. Think about how that would feel."

Dillard, a left tackle since he was 14, will make his first lifetime start at right tackle on Sunday when the Eagles face the Seahawks at the Linc.

Dillard said he's never played right tackle in a game on any level.

"Your brain kind of acts like a muscle in this case," he said. "You do one thing one way for 10 years, like I have, then everything about you is geared toward that. You flip it, your brain's like, 'Oh heck.' But this week's been a good week of preparation."

Dillard replaced injured left tackle Jason Peters in the second quarter of the Vikings game and stayed there through the Bills game, making his first three career starts and playing at a high level. Peters returned for the Patriots, but when right tackle Lane Johnson got hurt in the second quarter, it was Halapoulivaati Vaitai that entered the game at right tackle.

That didn't go so well. The Eagles, up 10-0, didn't score another point.

So Dillard spent this past week practicing at right tackle, and unless Johnson is somehow cleared through concussion protocol before Sunday, the rookie first-round pick will make his first career start on the right side against the Seahawks.

"Anytime you go from left to right side, it's a lot harder than people think," right guard Brandon Brooks said. "Not only are you flipping all the plays completely opposite but the muscle memory, your stance, everything's completely different. I have nothing but faith in Andre Dillard. Everything he's done, busting his ass out there, all the reps, all the extra time I've seen him after practice and stuff? It's different obviously. You don't replace Lane Johnson. He's a one-of-a-kind talent, a one-of-a-kind player. But at the same time, Dillard has more than enough talent. He's more than capable of handling his own out there."

The Eagles went with Vaitai to finish the Patriots game since Dillard hadn't taken any right tackle reps other than "a couple" in training camp and has never played the position.

"In the heat of the game I think Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) for sure felt that Big V had more work on the right side," Jason Kelce said. "Andre, he's a tackle by trade and there's a little bit of a difference and a little bit of balance and body control that you have to get used to going on the right side, but he'll be able to get it done. He's a really athletic kid."

Now Dillard has had a full week of work on the right side, and he said the process of transitioning to a new position will continue up until game time as he watches film, works on his technique and talks to his teammates and coaches.

But so far?

"Smooth as can be," he said after practice Friday. "It's obviously going to be a challenge, but I'm up for it. I'm perfectly capable."

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