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Offensive Line Injuries Mostly to Blame for Eagles' Disappointing Season

On the bright side, the team learned plenty about its backups and also allowed players such as Jordan Mailata to prove they belong
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Josh Sweat came first in the 2018 draft, with the Eagles taking the defensive end who has a career-high six sacks this year in the fourth round.

Jordan Mailata came later in the same class, with the Eagles taking the Australian rugby player in the seventh round and turning him into a football player.

Both players are looking like foundation pieces for the next couple of seasons.

Heck, even Matt Pryor came in that class, lodged between Sweat and Mailata after being taken in the sixth round, so those calling for the firing of GM Howie Roseman need to at least take this into consideration.

Pryor is going to start at right tackle when the Eagles play in Arizona against the Cardinals on Sunday (4:05 p.m.). It will be his eighth start and will be made because rookie Jack Driscoll is hurt.

What else is new with this Eagles O-line?

This will be the 13th time in 14 games that the Eagles will have to use a different starting lineup along the offensive line, all of that shuffling due to injuries.

Driscoll, a fourth-round pick this past spring, suffered an MCL sprain in a knee early in the game but stayed in and finished, impressing center Jason Kelce.

“I can’t believe he played through what he played through last week (versus the Saints) against one of the best defensive ends in the NFL over the last decade, Cam Jordan, went out there and did a great job,” said Kelce. “I think that the young guys have really stepped up around here and played pretty darn well.”

The young guys haven’t had much choice.

Head coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday he did not know if Driscoll’s injury would require surgery or if he would be able to play again this season. If he didn’t, that would be about par for the course with an offensive line that has already lost five players to season-ending injuries.

They are Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, and Sua Opeta.

Driscoll, if he is put on Injured Reserve this week, will be the sixth since an IR stay requires a player to miss three games minimum and three games is all that’s left in a season that will likely end on Jan. 3 against the Washington Football Team.

Anyone looking for answers as to why the Eagles’ playoff run of three straight years will likely end can look first at the offensive line. 

Maybe these line injuries will pay dividends in the future, though, because, as Kelce noted, the line isn’t getting any younger, and the experience the younger guys are getting will serve the team well.

“Our offensive line is only getting older at this point between the guys that have been here a long time, even the guys that are injured, between me, JP, Brooks, Lane, so you’re always trying to find out who those guys are that’ll be ready to play,” he said.

There’s no question that Jordan Mailata has been the brightest light among the young players.

He has played well enough, with a ceiling that has yet to be reached, that he may have put himself in the conversation to be the starting left tackle next year.

“We haven't really fully seen Andre Dillard either at that spot so it's hard to sit here today and say that,” said Pederson. “He's helping himself, I would say that. Jordan has played well enough to maybe compete at that spot, but I think it's a little unfair to sit here and say he's a full-time starter moving forward without seeing enough of Andre who obviously we drafted to take that spot.”

Then there’s Nate Herbig, who will make his 10th start on Sunday, and shown the ability to play either left or right guard, and Driscoll, who has made the most of the opportunities he had prior to his recent injury.

“Really happy with the young guys,” said Kelce. “The O-line is trending in the right direction. That’s a testament to Stout (O-line coach Jeff Stoutland) and the coaches and everybody, the personnel people making sure we have people there that are ready to go. I think those guys, for the most part, it hasn’t been perfect, but have done about as good as you can ask for out of young guys and reserve linemen in this league.”

If it were perfect the Eagles would be better than 4-8-1 and Carson Wentz wouldn’t have been sacked 50 times before getting benched for Jalen Hurts, who did not get sacked in his pro debut.

“The offensive line, although we have not been great and we’ve had some games that have been very poor,” said Kelce, “in general, I think guys have gone in there and done a really good job.”

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