Eagles offensive line has been clicking despite the injuries; Dallas Goedert returns to practice
The offensive line has been one of the strengths of the Eagles this season due to its continuity amid all the injuries, and it has helped the team's running game.
Like their ability to create a new pocket when quarterback Jalen Hurts extends plays with his legs, the Eagles offensive line has gotten creative in designating nicknames for one another.
Earlier in the week, left tackle Jordan Mailata referred to rookie lineman Landon Dickerson as “a very athletic fridge.” One day later, Dickerson likened the 6-foot-8, 365-pound Mailata to a “walk-in freezer.” Hilarity ensued after both references.
Jokes aside, the offensive line has served as a calming presence throughout a shaky season.
The Eagles have trotted out 10 offensive linemen due to injuries, but that revolving door hasn’t shaken the unit. Over the past three weeks, the Eagles have leaned on a run-heavy game plan and they’ve enjoyed benchmark success thanks to sound performances from across the line.
“It comes down to two things,” Mailata said. “The cohesiveness — having the continuity of the same line — it helps building that connection. You really need that. The more experience we get with the same five guys up front, the connection is going to rise.
“The other part is coaching. Nick Sirianni and [offensive line coach] Jeff Stoutland are very detailed. We make sure all the techniques are applied and we cover all the ‘what ifs?’”
Those what-if scenarios have included needing to play with an assortment of combinations. Both Week 1 starting guards, Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks, are on injured reserve. Center Jason Kelce is the only starter who hasn’t missed a game.
Mailata has played at both tackle positions this season, allowing just 13 total pressures in seven contests. Upon Lane Johnson’s return from his mental-health absence a few weeks ago, Mailata shifted back to his natural left side.
The Eagles are No. 8 in Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings. Kelce is the highest-graded player at 81.9, while Dickerson is the lowest-graded lineman at 61.1, per PFF. Since Week 8, the Eagles are second in the league in scoring and fourth in total yards.
“When we go in the film room, we know the plays we messed up on,” Mailata said. “It grounds us when we go in a room like that and Coach [Stoutland] doesn’t blow smoke up anyone’s behind. It’s a nice balanced progression in our room.”
The offensive line has improved both in the run- and pass-blocking departments. After Hurts was sacked 14 times during the first seven games, the protection has shored up — Hurts has been sacked just three times over the past three games.
“It’s the same emotional approach as a football team, it’s the same attack,” Hurts said. “As a team, we get the confidence of executing at a high level. We just want to continue to attack the process of that result.
“That comes with time. Everything becomes fine with time. For me, I’ve become more comfortable with the city, the coaches, the relationships with my teammates.”
Goedert returns to practice
Tight end Dallas Goedert began the week in the concussion protocol, but he returned to practice Thursday afternoon as a limited participant. At the beginning of the session, he was seen working out individually before joining the rest of his teammates in ball security drills.
The 26-year-old exited Sunday’s game during the first quarter when he took a big hit from Broncos safety Justin Simmons.
In a video released by the NFL, Perry Fewell, senior vice president of officiating, said Simmons’ hit on Goedert was considered legal because “it is only a foul when a defender lowers his head and initiates contact with his helmet. It is not a foul for a shoulder-to-helmet hit unless the runner is down or out of bounds.”