This is about my truck, and Jason Peters.
It used to be a top-of-the-line machine. Now, as my wife will tell you, it is old, and beat-up, expensive to maintain. But, I reply, it still gets the job done.
Just like Jason Peters.
His chrome is pitted. His lights are dim. Not everything works right, if it works at all. But he's still too valuable for the junkyard.
I tried to ditch my truck this summer. Couldn't do it.
Tried to ditch Jason Peters on Sunday. Same thing.
In a business predicated on being first with news and views, I planned to be the first writer to bury JP. The team had collapsed against the Panthers. His performance at left tackle had been a big part of the problem — hadn't it?
Yes, he'll get a gold jacket and a bronze bust one hot Ohio evening, but he's not performing at a Hall of Fame level right now. Not close. That's understandable. He's coming off knee surgery that kept him from playing in the Super Bowl. He ruptured his right Achilles tendon twice in 2012. On Sunday, was playing with a lingering quadriceps injury and a freshly torn right biceps. And, I thought, it showed.
He'd committed two more penalties. Carson Wentz was under pressure for much of the game. The team stagnated in the fourth quarter. When I left Lincoln Financial Field and headed home for dinner (chicken parm!) Jason Peters was dead to me.
It was time to sit him on his 36-year-old backside for a week or two, if only to let him heal. Maybe a month or two, if that's what it took. Maybe even the rest of the season, which, surely, must be his last. It was time for him to see the pasture; time for a new horse to take over at left tackle. Bring on Big V.
Then I re-watched the game.
Watched Peters twist the torso of defensive end Mario Addison, the team's top quarterback sacker, and drive him into the ground on the first play. Watched him stand Addison straight up, like a scarecrow, on the next play. Watched him drive Addison into the ground again on the third offensive play, this time wrenching Addison's back. Addison returned, but only briefly.
That drive ended, but when the next drive began Peters demolished 6-foot-3, 315-pound defensive tackle Kawann Short. That's the way most of the game went: sometimes awesome, sometimes ordinary, but that's pretty much been the story of his 15th season.
He wasn't the flawless, dominant Peters who was the best lineman in football for years. He missed a block of Luke Kuechly (the best linebacker on the planet) on one play but quickly atoned by driving end Efe Obada 8 yards across the field on a strong first-down run.
He gave up a hit on Wentz when Thomas Davis blitzed against that torn right biceps, which happened a couple of times. But when they called him for his first penalty, an illegal chop block, it wasn't him at all. It was tight end Dallas Goedert. (The penalty was later changed to reflect that.) Peters sprung Goedert on the next play, a 21-yard screen pass.
Again, Peters wasn't flawless, as he has been for so many games — so many seasons, for that matter. He couldn't keep Wes Horton out of the backfield on a running play early in the second quarter. He committed a false-start penalty midway through the second quarter, his fourth of the season, which is tied for second in the league, and his seven total penalties are tied for the league lead, but he hasn't been a particularly spotless blocker since he hit 30. He committed 11 penalties in 2014 and 2016, and he went to Pro Bowl in each of those seasons.
For what it's worth, it usually costs me about $1,000 every year to get my truck past inspection.
He gave up a sack on the same series that he false-started, but that was more Wentz's fault than his, because Wentz held on too long and stepped into the sack.
That play ended that series and was Peters' last play of the half. It looked like it might be his last play, period when Halpoulavaati Vaitai, replaced him on the final series of the half.
Nope. Big V, who played just well enough last season to help the Eagles win the championship, was just a temporary stand-in. Peters returned and did his job. Again, he wasn't the same guy who went to nine Pro Bowls between 2007 and 2016, but he wasn't the problem. He gave up pressure to blitzing safety Mike Adams on Kuechly's fourth-quarter sack of Wentz, but, on the second-to-last play of the game, Peters drove Davis 6 yards backward and onto his backside to allow Wendell Smallwood an 8-yard gain.
That was in the 58th minute. Peters was still rumbling along. Just like my truck, roaring up an I-95 on ramp, charging toward 200,000 miles.
I realize that my affinity for both the vehicle and the player might be a bit disturbing, but that's just because there are so many parallels. The undercarriage is a little rusty, the suspension doesn't ride as smooth as it did a few years ago, and the transmission, God bless it, takes a few seconds to kick in, especially when it's cold. It burns a little oil, and there's a slow leak in at least one of the tires, but so what. The AC still runs cold, the stereo still kicks bass and, dammit, they just don't make them like this anymore.