Offensive linemen. We typically only talk about them when they're really bad, or simply incredible. It's time to talk about Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who is playing about as well as he ever has — at 35 years old.
Stop to think about that statement for a moment. Peters is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first-team All-Pro. A veteran of 14 seasons, there was about a three-year period from 2011 through 2013 where he was hands down the most dominant offensive lineman in the NFL.
And based on the first six games, 2017 has the potential to be his best campaign yet.
Not bad, considering there was talk that Peters could be a casualty of the salary cap the past two offseasons. There's no reason to sugar-coat it — he's old, has battled injuries, and it certainly looked like regression was beginning to set in. If Chip Kelly were still the head coach of the Eagles, with his constant uptempo offense, there is no doubt in my mind Peters wouldn't be here right now.
But Peters is revitalized since Doug Pederson took over the program. Last season was a bounce-back year, at least enough that the Eagles felt confident in signing Peters to a one-year extension in August. Yet, even 2016 pales in comparison to what he's been able to accomplish thus far.
According to Pro Football Focus, Peters did not allow a single pressure on the quarterback in 37 dropbacks against the Panthers on Thursday night. It was the third time he shut out the opposing defense in the last four weeks, and on the season, he's on the hook for six pressures and one sack total.
Peters has dramatically cut down on penalties as well, which have been an issue even in some of his previous great years. The guys in black and white have only called out No. 71 once so far. Not even Pete Morelli could find fault in his performance.
In '16, Peters allowed 4.0 sacks, 8 quarterback hits and 13 quarterback hurries. Based on overall performance blocking the run and in pass protection, PFF had him graded ninth among all offensive tackles.
Peters is currently second among tackles in PFF's graded, behind only longtime Cleveland Browns stalwart Joe Thomas.
Frankly, the entire Eagles offensive line could take a bow. Since replacing Isaac Seumalo at left guard, the unit has begun staking its claim as the best front in the league.
That all starts with Peters, and it always has. That's how he got the nickname "The Franchise" years ago. But even then, nobody would've imagined a couple years ago he would still be arguably the Eagles' most important player, right up there alongside Carson Wentz.