Eagles Wake-Up Call: Stoutland On State Of the Offensive Line
Jeff Stoutland gives each of his linemen areas to work on during the break between OTAs and training camp. By the sounds of it, when Brandon Brooks came looking for his assignment, the o-line coach didn’t have a whole lot to choose from.
“I told him, ‘Boy I’ll tell you what, after evaluating your film in free agency’…I said, ‘some of the things I thought maybe there was some issues with, that’s your strength.’ The use of his hands in protection are unbelievable; getting into the second level and blocking linebackers, he’s been extremely productive doing that,” said Stoutland for a podcast on the team’s website.
“He keeps the protection in the middle firm. It helps [Jason] Kelce. To have a guy like him with his intelligence and just his physical presence next to Lane [Johnson], Lane hasn’t really had that. When you work with someone over a period of time you begin to grow with each other and…I know that’s already started to happen. I think it just gives the players around him more confidence that they know he’s going to be right where he’s supposed to be at the proper time. It’s all timing, it’s all angles and he’s done a great job so far.”
Stoutland acknowledged that depth along the front has been “a little bit of an issue here” of late, but feels his unit is in much better shape with the additions of Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski in free agency and Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai via the draft.
Four-fifths of the starting unit appears to be locked in barring something unforeseen, with left guard being the one exception. Allen Barbre seems like the front-runner for the gig entering camp, but the Eagles are leaving themselves some wiggle room there.
“I see a lot of competition. Al had a really good spring as well but you’ve got a lot of other players that you’re getting a chance to look at,” said Stoutland. “I think this: I’m very confident in Al’s ability, most especially in protection. Run game has improved a great deal this spring. Very happy with the way he’s surfacing blocks and taking the instruction. So we’re going to let it play out. You know how it happens throughout the course of the preseason, it’s a hard camp, it’s physical, guys get banged up, people get injured, and it always has a way of working its way out.
“All I know is we’re in a much better situation than we were before from a depth standpoint, now we just have to find…we’ll be alright.”
While the unit appears to be in much better shape overall, so much hinges on whether the 34-year-old Jason Peters can stay on the field and play at a high level. Stoutland was asked if Peters is still an elite left tackle in the NFL.
“Yes he is. I say that with a lot of confidence,” Stoutland responded. “Jason was a little banged up last year but fought through it all but really wasn’t himself. He’s back to being extremely healthy and in great shape and had a really good spring.”
You can listen to the podcast here.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“That’s the beauty of this thing. I get to talk to them one-on-one every single day, find out how they’re doing.” Doug Pederson on the importance of playing experience on the roster.
“I want to see if guards can pull. I want to see if linebackers can tackle. I want to see receivers and DBs test each other, and the only way you can do that is in pads.” Pederson has a different approach to what Chip Kelly had.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
When training camp begins next week, Carson Wentz will be one of the main attractions, even if he won’t be the starting QB, writes Jeff McLane of the Inquirer.
He may be as well-equipped as any top draft pick to handle a lesser role. Wentz didn’t start at quarterback in high school until he was a senior. He sat for three seasons before he earned the starting nod in college. And he watched as backup Easton Stick guided North Dakota State to the title game last year in his absence.
“I’ve done it before,” Wentz said last month, “so I know what kind of patience it takes.”
There’s an old adage about how it’s hard to lead from the bench, but Wentz may have to tone down his natural fiery instincts – especially in comparison with the subdued [Sam] Bradford. The same could apply to [Chase] Daniel, who is also more expressive than the starter.
But it’s the rookie who will be the center of attention when training camp opens Monday. Some fans will finally see what was seemingly evident during spring workouts – that Wentz, while still far from ready, has the tools to thrive in the NFL. And his on-field demeanor is that of a natural-born leader.
“He’s clapping, he’s cheering, he’s rallying the guys,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “If a guy makes a mistake, he’s like, ‘Let’s get it again.’ And that’s the type of guy Carson is.”
It’ll certainly be a more physical camp that it was under Chip Kelly, writes Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com.
“It’s real, live football,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “The past couple of years, we’ve kind of limited the tackling. I mean, you can approach it one of two ways, whether you’re keeping guys healthy or getting guys tougher. There’s definitely a fine line and I’m really excited about training camp. And I know all the guys are.”
It should be no surprise Pederson will bring a tougher training camp — in terms of hitting — than the ones Kelly had the last three years. [Andy] Reid, his mentor, was known for his brutal training camps in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In fact, Pederson was a part of Reid’s first training camp in 1999 at Lehigh.
Pederson said his training camp will be pretty similar, structure-wise, to the training camps Reid runs because they’re “successful” and “time-proven.”
That includes hitting.
“Why do I believe in hitting? I’m a quarterback — a former quarterback,” Pederson said. “It’s a physical game. It’s football. It’s tackle football. I think the only way you can properly fit offensively and defensively is you have to put the pads on and you have to hit.”
Four more days.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.