July 14, 2017
On July 24, there will be football again, as quarterbacks, rookies, and select veterans will report for training camp. Leading up to camp, we'll be taking a look at each positional group. Today we'll preview the offensive tackles.
First, here's a look at the depth chart at offensive tackle:
|LT||Jason Peters||Dillon Gordon||Matt Tobin||Victor Salako|
|RT||Lane Johnson||Halapoulivaati Vaitai||Allen Barbre||Taylor Hart|
In 2016, Jason Peters led the NFL in false starts, with 10 of them. In fact, the next closest player had six. Still, despite that flaw, Peters had a very good season (outstanding for his age), as he kept his rookie quarterback clean.
At some point, Peters' body is going to break down. As we noted in our Eagles dumpster fire piece, you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a player older than Peters who started at least 10 games at left tackle in a season. In other words, we're in something of uncharted waters in regard to a player of Peters' age starting at the most important position along the offensive line.
The Eagles will rest Peters as much as they can during training camp to keep his body fresh, which was an approach that paid off last season.
At right tackle, there was a noticeable difference in the play of the offense in general in games that Lane Johnson played, and ones he didn't.
The Eagles were 5-1 in games that Johnson played last season, with an average of 27.7 points scored per game. In games he missed, the Eagles went 2-8, with just 20.1 points scored per game. That's not a coincidence. After Johnson was lost for 10 games with a suspension, the Eagles had to play four different right tackles in his absence, and struggled mightily to pass protect on that side of the line. His (presumed) presence this season should give the Eagles a significant boost.
As for the backups, the Eagles aren't quite as deep at tackle as they are on the interior of the line, but they do still have competent depth. The first guy off the bench would be Vaitai, who would fill in at right tackle if either Peters or Johnson went down. Johnson would likely slide over to left tackle in the event Peters got hurt.
Beyond Vaitai, the Eagles have a seasoned veteran in Allen Barbre, who can fill in at multiple spots along the line, though his roster spot isn't guaranteed. And then there's Dillon Gordon, and intriguing athletic converted tight end who was playing the role of the sixth lineman in jumbo sets during spring practices.
Tobin has experience at tackle as well, though he'll have an uphill climb to make the roster this year, as will Hart and Salako.
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