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September 19, 2020

Eagles mailbag: What happened to Matt Pryor?

Eagles NFL
900922_Eagles_Lions_Matt_Pryor_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Matt Pryor during a game against the Detroit Lions.

In our Eagles chat on Thursday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow, as well as some commonly asked questions on Twitter and via email.

Question from Norm Snead: Consensus was that Matt Pryor was going to start at RG. Suddenly it seems like he's way down the depth chart. Is there a specific reason? Was this caused by reading too much into the fact that he had more experience than the other options? Maybe misreading who got snaps in practice?

Here’s the Matt Pryor timeline:

1) Over the first two years of his career, Pryor mostly worked at RG and RT. He started two games for the Eagles in 2019, both against the Seahawks, at RG.

2) Brandon Brooks got hurt, and most penciled in Pryor as the new starter at RG, barring a roster addition.

3) The Eagles signed Jason Peters to play RG. Pryor goes back to the bench on the depth chart.

4) Jeff Stoutland said that he considers Pryor something of a starter, in that he can fill in at several positions, and start at them if need be.

5) LT Andre Dillard injured his biceps and his season was over. Jason Peters subsequently refused to move to LT to replace Dillard without a bump in pay. In the meantime, Pryor got the first crack at playing LT with the first team offense in practice.

6) In a scrimmage setting during training camp at Lincoln Financial Field, Pryor got absolutely wrecked all day by Josh Sweat. It was essentially the “Winston Justice game” equivalent of a training camp practice.

7) The Eagles eventually paid Peters, and he went back to LT. In Week 1, Nate Herbig started at RG, and Jack Driscoll started at RT. During the game, Driscoll got hurt, and Jordan Mailata, who is more comfortable at LT than he is at RT, filled in. Pryor, who is more comfortable at RT than he is at LT, stayed on the bench. In other words, Pryor is, at best, the tenth lineman in the pecking order. He got leapfrogged by Herbig, Driscoll, and Mailata.

I think the answer is probably simple. Over the last few weeks, the Eagles came to the conclusion that Pryor just isn’t good. #Analysis.

Question from BOE: Does Jason Peters’ and Zach Ertz’s very public financial gripes send the wrong message? These are vets and I know most forgive when players try to get paid, but Ertz has two years left on his deal, and JP has been paid. To me it shows they are not putting the interest of the team as a priority.

You can count me among the "players should wield their leverage while they can" crowd, seeing as it's not exactly a level playing field that more often than not favors the teams. That said, I can't fully get behind the actions of Peters or Ertz, who oh the way both had bad games Week 1.

Even if he has played LT for almost 15 years, Peters could have used more time there before the start of the season. But even if he didn't, certainly the younger guys could have used more reps with the first team offense at RG while Peters continued to occupy that spot.

And then with Ertz, as you mention, he has two years left on his contract, and he's unhappy with the way his contact negotiations have gone. It's understandable that it's difficult for players to focus on football and let their agents do the dirty work when they feel slighted, but it's fair to wonder if Ertz is letting his dissatisfaction affect his play on the field. It seemed like it on Sunday.

Obviously, you'd prefer not to have two perceived "team leaders" in contract disputes that are affecting their play on the field. It probably doesn't set the best example for the 18 rookies on the regular roster or practice squad. 

Question from Byron Evans: What is your confidence level that the defense can hold a playoff team to under 20 points this season.

I thought there were a bunch of positives from the defense on Sunday. Darius Slay played really well against Terry McLaurin, a guy who killed the Eagles last year. The linebackers did their job. Malik Jackson and Josh Sweat were disruptive. I thought the safeties were fine. I'm not down on the defense at the moment. I think they'll have some good games this season against good teams.

Question from Sterling: Jimmy, it's been noted that Press Taylor is more a peer to Wentz than a mentor. Do you think it's time the Eagles look into getting a QB coach that'll challenge and push Wentz? Because whatever he's doing now isn't working.

I don’t want to overreact to one game. I mean, the guy did just have an outstanding end to the 2019 season, so I’m not on board with the tone here that Wentz is consistently failing over and over.

That said, I do think Wentz was at his best in 2017, at a time when John DeFilippo was willing to give him a little harder coaching.

Question from Guido Merkins: It seems like the WFT knew what plays were coming too often. They were jumping routes and sniffing out the screen plays. Last year the Seahawks said they knew what plays were coming. The Cowboys have said the same thing in the past. Is Doug just a bad play caller? Too vanilla? Too predictable?

Personally, I don’t pay much attention when players say they knew what plays were coming. It’s often self-serving nonsense, in my view. “Look at me! I’m smart! I knew a certain play was coming a few times during the game!” I’ll bet every coach in the NFL has to face questions about that when opposing players want to call themselves smart.

Generally speaking, I think Pederson is a good game-planner, play caller, and decision maker in “go for it” situations. However, he clearly got outcoached last Sunday.

I thought that this was a good summation by Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network (h/t to Tommy).

They didn’t know what Pederson was going to call on a play-to-play basis, but they surely had a better game plan.

Question from LBI Fred: You going surfing this week? It's big right now.

I'm going to try to get out on Tuesday next week, which won't even be fun because Tuesday is a heavy NFL transaction day during the season, so I'll be thinking about what I'm missing if I'm out in the water for a while. Yes, I know, poor Jimmy. 

For those of you who are unaware, really good surf days are few and far between until you get into hurricane season. It's rare that the waves are (a) big, and (b) clean (as in, not choppy). It is extremely rare to see orange on my surf app here, which means "good" or better. I don't think I've ever seen "very good" in NJ.

091920HurricaneTeddy

Normally, green (which is "fair" surf) means, "Oh my God drop everything you're doing and get in the water." So I'm kind of excited to see what "very good" means here.

Of course, that's a swell being generated by Hurricane Teddy, currently a category 4 storm, which is going to narrowly miss Bermuda, head north in the Atlantic Ocean, and likely make landfall, still as a hurricane, maybe even as a category 2, in freaking Nova Scotia.

On the one hand, yay, waves! On the other hand, a massive hurricane barreling toward Canada is yet another daily reminder of how terrified I am of the planet we're leaving behind for my daughter, as the people in charge continue to ignore science.


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