Jason Peters

Eagles mailbag: What is the ceiling for Miles Sanders?

Eagles mailbag: What is the ceiling for Miles Sanders?

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I’m hoping you’re reading this on the beach or somewhere where you’re having fun. 

As always, you guys came through with questions, so I split them up. 

Part 1 is here

Let’s get to Part 2: 

I don’t think he has one. 

Last week, I put together my ranking of the top 32 starting running backs in the NFL and put Sanders at No. 11. That might seem high to some people, but I think the kid is special. 

As a reminder, in his first NFL season, Sanders had 1,327 scrimmage yards to set a franchise rookie record. And he didn’t even become the full-time starter until Jordan Howard went down. And you’ll also remember that he averaged 112 scrimmage yards per game in the Eagles’ final four games of 2019 to get them into the playoffs. 

Without Howard on the roster in 2020, I expect Sanders to be the Eagles’ first true feature back in Doug Pederson’s five years as head coach. 

(That doesn’t mean Boston Scott and others won’t get carries, but it means that Sanders is the clearly defined No. 1.) 

Last year, Sanders had 818 rushing yards and 509 receiving yards. 

So a 1,000-yard rushing season is not only in play, but I expect it. And even if he can’t duplicate that pretty incredible season as a receiver, he should be able to duplicate his scrimmage yards total. There have been just seven players in Eagles history to have back-to-back seasons with 1,300-plus scrimmage yards: LeSean McCoy (twice), Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley, Ricky Watters, Herschel Walker, Wilbert Montgomery and Timmy Brown. 

I fully expect Sanders to join that list in 2020. 

I still think there’s a small chance Peters returns to the Eagles, but I’m not convinced it would be to play right guard. I think Peters could probably do the job but asking him to change positions and sides of the line after a full Hall of Fame career at left tackle is a tough ask. 

My understanding about the Peters situation is that the Eagles thought he was going to sign pretty quickly and they were fully prepared to move forward with Andre Dillard. But now it’s nearly July and Peters still doesn’t have a team. If his price drops to a certain point and he can’t find a job, the Eagles would be foolish not to bring him back, at the very least for depth purposes. 

Since he was drafted in 2018, Mailata hasn’t even played in a real game. He has been active just three times and didn’t get on the field. So the goal with him is still to bring him along as an offensive tackle. 

I get why everyone wants to put him at running back. You go back and watch his rugby tape and it’s impressive. But he still has so much on his plate learning the sport and the tackle positions, that adding running back responsibilities wouldn’t be fair. Maybe down the line that could become a possibility. The Eagles are a creative offensive team and they’ve seen the rugby videos too. But that’s not something we’ve ever heard them talk about. 

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Who replaces Brandon Brooks? The answer is clear

Who replaces Brandon Brooks? The answer is clear

Jason Peters doesn’t have a job, and the Eagles don’t have a right guard.

This is a no-brainer.

Howie Roseman should be on the phone right now with Peters, offering him a few million bucks to return to Philly and reinvent himself as a guard.

My first reaction Monday night when I heard about Brandon Brooks blowing out his Achilles was just incredible disappointment for Brooks, a class act whose 2018 and 2019 seasons both ended with injuries. 

Brooks has been through so much the last few years, and he’s always had the best attitude about everything. Nobody is more positive, and nobody will attack rehab like Brandon.

But his 2020 season is over three months before it was scheduled to begin. And who even knows if there will be a season. And if there is what form it will take.

But if there is football this fall, the Eagles will need a right guard, and nobody makes more sense than Peters. 

Even though he’s never played guard in his life.

If you don’t think J.P. would be a very good guard, you don’t know J.P. 

Heck, he came into the NFL as an undrafted tight end, so he’s already changed positions once and made himself a Hall of Famer in the process.

Look at it from Peters’ vantage point: Free agency came and went three months ago and he doesn’t have a job. He’s said he wants to play into his 40s and right now he’s out of work.

“I still can get it done,” Peters said after the playoff loss in January. “If I couldn’t get it done, I would just walk away. But I can still go.”

Look at it from the Eagles’ vantage point: They just lost a three-time Pro Bowler for the year, and there’s a guy available who the coaches, the GM and the owner love, who was still playing at a decent level last year in his 17th season, who has a great relationship with O-line coach Jeff Stoutland and who is deeply respected and admired by everybody in that locker room.

There is literally no question in my mind Peters can swing inside. 

A lot of older tackles move inside to guard, where you don’t need quite the same level of athleticism as tackle. Jermane Mayberry got benched at tackle, made a Pro Bowl at guard.

Peters might not be quite as nimble as he used to be, but the power is still there. At this point in his career, the 38-year-old Peters might even be better suited to play guard than tackle.

Andre Dillard is the left tackle now, but Peters is the ultimate team guy. He’s always made that clear. He just wants to compete. He just wants to be a part of something great. 

He just wants to play football, and now he has a chance to do that.

“As long as I can do it, I’m going to go,” Peters said last summer. “Whether that’s tackle or guard, I can play all the way across the board.” 

There are other options.

The Eagles could go with a young guy like Matt Pryor, who played OK in place of an injured Brooks in the Seattle playoff game, or rookie fourth-round pick Jack Driscoll. Maybe they can see what Jordan Mailata can do at guard. The Eagles like Sua Opeta and Nate Herbig enough to have both on the 53 for some or part of last year.

They could sign a veteran, like three-time Pro Bowler Larry Warford, Chris Long’s kid brother Kyle Long or veteran Ron Leary, who played last year in Denver for Eagles offensive assistant Rich Scangarello.

There’s only one option that gets a future Hall of Famer back on this roster. 

There’s only one option that reunites the Eagles with one of the greatest players in franchise history. 

And in an offseason where nobody even knows when new players will get to meet their coaches in person, there’s only one option that brings the Eagles someone his teammates and coaches already know and love.

It’s time to bring Jason Peters back to Philly. Not because he belongs here. But because he’s the best guy available.

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10 options to replace Brandon Brooks after Achilles tear

10 options to replace Brandon Brooks after Achilles tear

There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Losing Brandon Brooks is absolutely devastating for the Eagles. 

If you ever want to know just how important Brandon Brooks is to the Philadelphia Eagles think back to last April and what Jason Kelce said about the playoff loss to the Saints a few months earlier. 

“I would argue, maybe, (we were) a hurt right guard away from getting back to the NFC Championship Game,” Kelce said. 

And he was probably right. 

Now the Eagles are without their star right guard for the entire 2020 season. Brooks on Monday morning, tore his left Achilles tendon and will miss the entire season.  

Replacing him won’t be easy. But the Eagles have to try. Here are some options: 

Matt Pryor 

When Brooks went down in the regular season finale in 2019, it was Pryor who stepped in. And in the wild card game against the Seahawks, he got his first-career NFL start and held up. He played every snap in that game. According to ProFootballFocus, Pryor gave up 1 sack, 3 hurries and 4 pressures. 

Pryor (6-7, 322) was a 6th-round pick out of TCU back in 2018. He was drafted as a tackle but has been a better fit at guard. 

Jason Peters 

This one makes plenty of sense. While it might be tough to ask a future Hall of Famer to not just change positions but also change sides at 38 years old, if anyone can handle it, it’s Peters. There had been talk before about Peters’ possibly moving to guard later in his career and just last season, he volunteered to play right tackle if the Eagles needed him there when Lane Johnson was down. 

Even though the Eagles are ready to move forward with Andre Dillard at left tackle, they’ve remained in contact with Peters. Everyone pretty much expected that Peters would be off the market by now, but he isn’t. If nothing else, losing Brooks hurts the Eagles depth and they could replenish some of that by bringing Peters back. 

Nate Herbig

Herbig (6-4, 334) joined the Eagles as an undrafted rookie out of Stanford in 2019. He was on the active roster all season and played just three total snaps on offense. But the Eagles liked him enough that they got him some work at center last summer. A team needs to trust a player before they give him that kind of role. 

Sua Opeta 

Like Herbig, Opeta (6-4, 305) was undrafted last year. Out of Weber State, the Eagles kept Opeta on their practice squad until Week 14, when they promoted him to avoid losing him. He seems to be a favorite of the coaching staff. 

Jack Driscoll 

The Eagles used a fourth-round pick in 2020 on Driscoll, who played right tackle at Auburn. But earlier in his career, he played guard and many evaluators think that’s where he’ll play long-term. During the pre-draft process, he even learned center. The Eagles really like Driscoll and see him almost like a replacement for Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was a fifth-round pick in 2016. While Vaitai was more of a pure tackle, he learned to play guard as well and was preparing to fill in for Brooks last year if Brooks wasn’t ready for the opener. 

Larry Warford 

Now we’re getting to the other options who aren’t on the current roster. Warford (6-3, 317) was released by the Saints this offseason after New Orleans drafted Cesar Ruiz in the first round. Warford turns 29 in a few days but is coming off his third consecutive Pro Bowl season, although his level of play dipped in 2019. His weight and price tag have been concerns for some teams. Since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2013 with the Lions, he’s started 101 games. The Eagles have been hesitant to spend money past a certain point this offseason, aiming to carry over cap space into 2021, but if there’s a position they’ll make an exception for, it’s OL. 

Kyle Long 

The younger brother of Eagles favorite Chris Long actually said on Twitter Monday that he didn’t retire; he was fired by the Bears. He says he’ll know within the next few weeks if he’ll return to the NFL. Long is 31 now and ended the 2019 season on IR with a hip injury. The former first-rounder played seven seasons in Chicago and was a Pro Bowler in his first three seasons. 

Mike Person 

Person, 31, is coming off a two-year stint with the 49ers from 2018-19 under head coach Kyle Shanahan. We point him out because of the connection to Eagles offensive assistant Rich Scangarello, who learned under Shanahan and was in San Francisco in 2018 and Atlanta in 2015; Person was in both cities during those years. Person (6-4, 300) fits best in zone blocking schemes and has started 48 games in his career. 

Ron Leary 

Leary (6-3, 320) turned 31 in April and was the Broncos’ starting right guard for 12 games last year before missing the final four games with a concussion. He has reportedly been cleared since then. Of course, Scangarello was the Broncos’ OC last season. Leary has started 76 games in his eight-year NFL career. 

Chance Warmack 

This one is a little tricky because Warmack is on the Seahawks’ roster, but he’s certainly not a lock to make that team. As bad as his first stint in Philly went, he has a long-standing relationship with Jeff Stoutland and the Eagles liked him enough in 2017 to try him out as the starter before they eventually went with Stefen Wisniewski over Isaac Seumalo at left guard. Warmack, the former first-round pick, is 28. 

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