Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: How Jason Peters Defies Age
When Carson Wentz drops back, he has plenty to worry about. What is the defense doing? Will the receivers get open? How will Halapoulivaati Vaitai hold up at right tackle? But one thing the rookie quarterback doesn’t have to concern himself about is the guy protecting his blind side: Jason Peters.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles’ left tackle didn’t allow a single pressure in 41 pass-blocking snaps against the Falcons. While Wentz doesn’t need to spend much time thinking about Peters, the rest of the offensive line can’t stop marveling at what the 34-year-old is doing in the 13th season of his career.
“He’s the best offensive lineman I’ve seen with my two eyes. Period,” Brandon Brooks said. “To go from an undrafted free agent tight end from Arkansas to pretty much a first-ballot Hall of Fame tackle, it speaks for itself. It’s unbelievable how well he’s playing this late in his career. For an offensive lineman, usually you can say your prime is between Year 5 and Year 9. You know what the league is and what to expect, but for him to do it in Year 13 with all of the accolades and money he’s made, it’s incredible to see.”
‘Not Too Many Tackles Can Do That’
Perhaps the most impressive part of Peters’ game is how easy he makes the difficult blocks look. Against Washington on Darren Sproles’ 11-yard run, for example, he sealed two levels and took care of three defenders, but he did it so effortlessly it looked like a routine play.
“He’s one of the best run blocking tackles — if not the best — in the NFL,” Jason Kelce said. “That’s an outside zone play, and a lot of ends have a tendency to dip inside the tackle on that. What we do is we have Allen Barbre go with him to give Jason the license to reach and when the guy takes the inside move, Jason shoves him on top of Allen, and then gets to the second level. Not only does JP cut off the linebacker I’m already reaching, but he knocks the other guy behind him. Not too many tackles can do that.”
After being shown one of Peters’ down blocks against Detroit, Kelce opts for sound effects instead of words to explain what happened. Kelce simulated the noise of an explosion because of the power, speed and athleticism Peters has when he moves downhill.
“In the run game,” Brooks added, “tackles are sometimes like, ‘Eh, I get paid to block the pass-rusher off the edge,’ but he really takes pride in mowing guys down.”
‘He Just Manhandles the Guy’
The highlight of Peters’ pass blocking typically comes when he initially engages defenders, but the reason he’s in such a good position is because of what he does before making contact.
“Ask [offensive line coach Jeff] Stoutland or anyone else: He’s never out of control or unbalanced in pass protection. It’s super cool to see every day, because you normally don’t see that stuff,” Isaac Seumalo said. “That dude’s first two kicks [to move backward in pass protection] is faster than anybody else. You put him in a foot race for two or three yards against anybody else, he’ll win. He gets off the ball so fast.”
Added Matt Tobin: “He’s got such quick feet. He’s always got low hips. Typically when guys get older, they stand up taller and lean a little more, but he’s still balanced and has good hips. It’s impressive how he still does that.”
On one passing down against Pittsburgh, Peters displayed many of these elements of his game. The edge rusher attempted to make an inside move to get to Wentz, but Peters was able to stop on a dime and take the defender out of the play.
“He just manhandles the guy,” Kelce said. “He’s on a pass block and he converts it to a drive block when the guy stops. For him to put his foot down and still be able to change direction like that, most tackles can’t do that. That’s why it surprises the defender, because he’s thinking, ‘I’m gonna come up the field and duck inside real quick,’ but he doesn’t anticipate that JP has the ability to stop and change direction like that.”
There are plenty of other examples of Peters’ ability in such situations, including one passing down against the Browns.
But one of Peters’ biggest pass blocking contributions this season is how he’s helped Vaitai develop. According to the rookie right tackle, Peters has helped him figure out how much depth to get when he kicks backward in pass protection, where to punch the pass-rusher and how to stay low and remain underneath an opponent.
“He’s really helped me build my game. Being with him is like having a big brother,” Vaitai said. “It’s just crazy I get to play with this guy. I’m lucky I get to watch him all the time.”
The Secret To Success
There are several phrases many of Peters’ teammates use to describe him: He’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever seen. He moves ridiculously well for a guy who is 6-4 and 340 pounds. He was born with gifts others simply don’t have.
And according to some, including Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Peters has been successful so late in his career because even though his physical skills have diminished, they started on another plane above everyone else.
“He’s just a marvelous player. For the guys who play that late in their career, they had to have been really good athletes early on so when they’re later in their career as their skills diminish somewhat, they’re still better than most guys, and he’s one of those guys,” Carroll told Philadelphia reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “He’s just a superior player. To play this effectively this long, he’s got it all. He’s a really good player.”
But Peters’ teammates are also quick to add how the Texas native still prepares as if he’s an undrafted free agent. Doug Pederson limits Peters’ workload in practice to help him stay healthy for the game, but Peters also spends a lot of time in the cold tub, stretching out, drinking healthy shakes, using the foam roller and figuring out any way he can to extend his career.
That’s why, even though he’ll turn 35 in the next couple of months, Peters is unsure of when he’ll eventually retire.
“The guy was born with freakish athleticism, but the most impressive thing is how he practices,” Seumalo said. “It’s just impressive to see because — I’m not saying he’s old — but practices are really a grind, and it’s impressive for him to go all out on every play.
“And the time and hours he spends getting his body right during the week is also really impressive. That’s how he stays as good as he is for so long.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Brian Dawkins is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Eagles worked out a former Seattle Seahawk, and the NFL reportedly told Doug Pederson there should have been a penalty on Falcons safety Keanu Neal after his hit on Jordan Matthews.
“The point of emphasis this week, obviously, is to be able to handle that.” Crowd noise is one factor Pederson wants his team to work on as they prepare to take on the Seahawks in Seattle.
Midway through their first season in the NFL, many of the rookies in this year’s draft class are showing signs of promise for the future.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham isn’t pleased with the amount of targets he’s getting, writes Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com.
“That should be a game where … I’m a big receiver. I should have catches and stuff like that. I’m not saying that just because I’m frustrated. I’m just saying in reality, you would know, like, ‘Why doesn’t he have any catches?’ That’s just something that we have to continue to do at practice. We just have to continue to work and stay on the same page as the quarterback.”
Green-Beckham said the reason he didn’t have any catches (or targets) on Sunday was not because he wasn’t doing his job, but because quarterback Carson Wentz wasn’t looking his way. And he said Wentz agreed.
This week, as the team reconvened at the NovaCare Complex, the offense reviewed the tape against Atlanta and, according to Green-Beckham, “everybody agreed that the ball should have been here for easy completions.”
“The last two games, no catches,” he said. “But on film, we see where the ball should have went.”
Doug Pederson and Pete Carroll think the Eagles’ defense is just as good as the Seahawks’ unit, pens Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.
This week, the Eagles will face a team that has easily had the best defense in the NFL over the last half-decade, which begged the question from Philly reporters on Wednesday, “Is the Eagles’ defense on the same level as the Seahawks’?”
“I think so, if you look at the numbers,” said Doug Pederson, who of course runs the offense and leaves defensive responsibilities to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. “It’s one of top defenses in the National Football League. Not giving up many points. Yeah, it should. We should be mentioned. Sometimes you get overshadowed a lot by how your offense is performing. But that has, by no means, overshadowed anything that our defense has done in the first nine weeks.”
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll gracefully agreed.
“Yeah, they’re probably ranked higher than we are,” said Carroll. “This is a really good group. It starts up front with these guys. They’re very aggressive. Coach Schwartz has got these guys humming off the football. They vary their stuff. They mix their coverages. It’s a really nice group.”
Jim Schwartz and Frank Reich will speak to the media at 10:40.