Eagles’ Jordan Mailata said Marcus Davenport scuffle was about defending Jalen Hurts: ‘It’s protecting my family’
The 6-foot-8, 365-pound left tackle said his issue with Davenport dates back to last season's game.
At the podium on Wednesday, Jordan Mailata refrained from repeating what he said to Marcus Davenport when things got heated between the two a few days earlier.
It wasn’t because he was embarrassed, he just didn’t want to get an earful from the woman who raised him to know better.
“My mom’s watching,” the Eagles’ left tackle said.
The play in question happened in the second quarter of the Eagles’ 40-29 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Mailata took exception to a few of Davenport’s hits on Jalen Hurts, including one as the Eagles’ quarterback was going out of bounds.
“It was a product of a lot of things that kind of led up to me kind of blowing my cap,” Mailata said. “I think the biggest thing to me was all the extra stuff he was doing to Jalen. I’m a big boy, I can handle myself, but I think seeing him getting pushed out of bounds and even when Jalen’s breaking the pocket, he’s throwing the ball, he’s getting hit late by No. 92 — Davenport, sorry.
“It was just like, ‘Once I get an opportunity, I’m going to do something to this dude. It just so happened he lined up against me, I took the right footwork, got the right leverage and just kind of wanted to finish him into the ground. I honestly blacked out half that play until I got up and I’m pretty sure he grabbed me, that’s when I just — you guys seen it.”
Mailata drove Davenport well past the line of scrimmage and continued driving him backward past the whistle. As they both went to the ground, Davenport grabbed the 6-foot-8, 365-pound Australian and the two wrestled for a moment before getting separated. Mailata outweighs the Saints end by about 100 pounds.
“It was like ... UFC,” right tackle Lane Johnson said after the game. “I just saw their [butts] rolling around.”
Mailata said the skirmish was premeditated, dating back to the two teams’ game last season.
“I just remember them being so dirty after plays last year,” Mailata said. “For me, I wanted to set the tone early and that’s why I was the way I was on Sunday. I wasn’t going to let that fly.”
There’s something poetic about Mailata taking on the role as Hurts’ protector beyond just the typical tropes that come with being a left tackle and blocking on a quarterback’s blind side. As the improbable successor to Jason Peters — nicknamed “The Bodyguard” — Mailata assumed his predecessor’s role as an enforcer at least for one game.
One of Peters’ most memorable moments as an Eagle was charging after Washington defensive lineman Chris Baker after he clobbered Nick Foles during an interception return in 2014. Now, Mailata has a moment of his own.
“Everybody has a role on the team,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “To have a 400-pound guy that’s getting after somebody, that’s a heck of an imposing force to have on your side. It’s awesome to see that type of intensity and emotion out of a guy that size because I think other teams are probably going to take notice of that.”
Mailata’s wrestling match wasn’t the only highlight of his game against the Saints, let alone the season. He pancaked Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan with one arm while in pass protection in the second quarter and made several key blocks on a day when the Eagles ran for 242 yards.
When the Eagles drafted Mailata in the seventh round in 2018, the former Australian rugby standout hadn’t played in an actual football game yet. Four seasons later, he’s the team’s left tackle of the present and future after signing a four-year contract extension worth up to $64 million.
He has played well this season and with a noticeable edge at times, something he said has emerged as he builds confidence through playing time. While he’s generally known as an affable guy, Mailata said there’s a misperception about him not being able to play with a mean streak.
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“My family knows I can play with nastiness,” he said. “But for me, it’s been a confidence thing. Knowing the game plan has helped a lot with my confidence. I’m knowing the right techniques and just keeping the repetitions coming every day and every week. It’s just provided me with that edge on Sunday.”
“For me, it’s protecting my family,” he added. “I told you guys last week, these guys on the team are my family. ... Seeing my brother get hit and pushed out of bounds late, it didn’t roll with me right.”
For some of his teammates, though, it isn’t an either-or proposition.
“I think he is a happy-go-lucky Australian guy,” Kelce said, laughing. “He’s also a guy that can get [ticked] off, too.”