Andre Dillard will be the Eagles’ left tackle again this week, at Buffalo.
So far, Dillard has been a subplot, as more urgent matters have taken the spotlight in a tumultuous Eagles season. But his development as the replacement for 37-year-old Jason Peters is going to be a huge part of the team’s future.
— Les Bowen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dillard survived his first start in Dallas, a week after surviving his first extended action of the season, after Peters went down with a knee injury against Minnesota. Dillard’s snaps went from 47 to 61. He gave up a sack, but his pressures and hurries dropped, according to Pro Football Focus.
With the Eagles’ offense struggling, the team needs Dillard to take another step forward Sunday at Buffalo. He’ll likely be matched against 10-year veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes, who will be making his 94th career start, as Dillard makes his second.
In Dallas, Dillard said, the first-round rookie learned “just what it feels like to play an entire game, the pace and competition of an entire game.”
Was it overwhelming?
“No,” he said. “It’s kind of how I pictured it would be. It ain’t easy, at all. Some real good players out there.”
Asked if there was one thing he specifically wanted to do better this week, Dillard said there is, but he didn’t want to say what it might be, presumably on the off chance that the Bills are among our newsletter subscribers. “I’m not trying to get information about myself out there too much.”
Dillard got bull-rushed on the sack he allowed. Listed at 6-foot-5, 315, he has quick feet and good balance, but he lacks the bulk and power of Peters, whose listed weight of 328 might be from grade school.
How do teams approach a rookie tackle? Do they try to confuse him with stunts, or do they just try to overpower him?
“I imagine they just try to mess with me in any way they can,” Dillard said. “I’m not going to let any of that get to me.”
There is no indication Peters is anywhere close to playing again. Should Dillard settle comfortably in to the left tackle spot, it would be interesting to see how the team might handle that, when Peters returns.
“I think he did a really good job, commendable job under difficult circumstance playing against two really good rushers, or three really good rushers, guys that he matched up with down there in Dallas, and acquitted himself very nicely,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said this week. “I think his confidence ought to grow as a result of his performance.”
What is the organizational problem that has turned the Eagles into a third-tier NFL club? — @macscotchman via Twitter
Mac, third tier is harsh. Well, only until they lose in Buffalo; then it’s justified.
However you rank them as an organization, these are the Eagles’ worst problems, as I see it: