Well, this was supposed to be a positive blog post about the Eagles’ offensive line. Then word of Jason Peters‘ arrest for drag racing and resisting came down last night, and suddenly that didn’t quite seem appropriate.
But if you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic, shift your focus away from the Pro Bowl tackle and toward Pro Bowl hopeful Evan Mathis.
The 31-year-old had minor surgery on his ankle this offseason and the expectation was that he wouldn’t be on the field again until training camp. But during last week’s minicamp, he was back in the mix.
“I would go real hard in rehab for a day, I would take a day off and come back, and all the drills I was doing I felt better at, and that kept happening,” said Mathis. “Then I got to the point where I was pushing everything full speed and I was like, ‘Well, there is no point in me waiting anymore. I want to practice. Let’s go.’
“It felt great. The best feeling was mentally, being able to get out there again, because it’s really annoying when you are over there rehabbing and everybody else is over here practicing.”
Two weeks ago at OTAs, the first-team offensive line looked like this: Dennis Kelly, Allen Barbre, Dallas Reynolds, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson. It was difficult not to flash back to 2012.
Amazing what a week can do. By the time the mandatory minicamp rolled around, Peters had returned from his absence for personal reasons, Jason Kelce (knee) began participating in team drills and Mathis re-entered the fold. Suddenly, the line looked like this: Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans, Johnson. Maybe Chip Kelly doesn’t make depth charts this time of year, but somewhere in his office he must have that starting five scribbled on a cocktail napkin.
“We had everybody, man,” said Mathis. “It was good having the whole gang out there.”
Despite all the issues along the offensive front last season, Mathis still performed at a very high level by all accounts. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the sixth best player in the entire league.
It’s easy to ignore guards, but when you’re looking at an ‘all players created equal’ list, then you simply have to have Mathis this high. The Eagles may have struggled, but the continued brilliance of Mathis was unavoidable. He might not have the same impact blocks as others, but his continued ability to create movement at the point of attack makes Mathis the best guard in the league.
He was the only member of last season’s original five to start all 16 games. With so many of his brethren coming off significant injuries, Kelly has to be encouraged to see his left guard back out there.
WHAT YOU MISSED
More details on Peters’ reported arrest.
Three things we’ve learned about the Eagles’ offense, from Mr. Kapadia.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Speaking of Mathis: he chimed in on the whole quarterback topic. From the AP:
“I haven’t been evaluating our quarterbacks because I’m focused on the offensive line, but I really don’t see the point of Chip Kelly naming a starting QB before camp,” Mathis told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
“This is an entirely new coaching staff with an entirely new offense, which isn’t even fully installed yet. It’s not rocket science; whoever the coaches feel will help the team the most will win the job after proving himself in training camp and preseason.”
Dan Graziano thinks the vets asking for a starting QB to be named need to chill out.
Unless they’re holding their team fantasy football draft on the first day of training camp, there’s no reason the Eagles players need to know by late July who’s going to be their starting quarterback. Are we really to believe that the effectiveness of the offense in September rests on the naming of a starter in June or July? Does it make any sense at all to think that the receivers and the backs and the linemen would connect with Vick to such an extent that they wouldn’t accept Nick Foles as the leader of their huddle if he showed up there in late August?
This is supposed to be the quietest time of the year, but the Eagles are keeping it interesting.