Simply mentioning Brooks' injury does not do him or the Eagles’ offensive line justice; unfortunately this latest misfortune will be one of a few factors causing a once prominent offensive line to take a step back in 2020. First, let’s look at where this line has performed and what it’s meant for Philadelphia over the past four years.
As a snapshot, below are the pro football focus offensive line rankings following each regular season between 2016-2019 (playoffs not included):
- 2019 - 1st overall, 9-7 (won NFC East, lost Wild Card round)
- 2018 - 5h overall, 9-7 (wild card, lost Divisional round
- 2017 - 1st overall, 13-3 (won NFC East, won Super Bowl)
- 2016 - 8th overall, 7-9 (missed playoffs)
It’s clear this unit consisting of mainstays Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, and Jason Kelce, has graded very well in each of the past four regular seasons including winning the battle of the trenches for all the marbles in Super Bowl 52.
In 2016, it’s clear worst performance in the 4-year stretch, Johnson was suspended for 10 games and Brooks was in his first year in the Philadelphia system. Now the right side of the unit loses Brooks, but don’t forget the void on the left side due to the departure of LT Jason Peters (9-time pro bowler and 2-time all-pro), who remains unsigned by any team. His replacement is 2nd year OT Andre Dillard, who played well in spots last season but had an alarming performance in week 12 against Seattle; needing to start for Lane Johnson, Dillard was asked to make the switch from LT to RT for the game, which he compared to a person trying to write with their non-dominant hand. With such a positive, go get ‘em attitude the switch went great and Dillard was benched at halftime. That behavior is not the kind of mental and physical toughness a fanbase wants to see from their stalwart LT.
In the recent off-season, the Eagles also did little to address the bubbling offensive line concerns, spending most of their early draft capital on other needs. With the 145th pick (4th round), Philadelphia selected it’s first OL player, OT Jack Driscoll (Auburn). They would go on to add another Auburn Tackle at the 210th pick (6th round), Prince Tega Wanogho. While Prince is an exciting developmental prospect given he began playing the game of football only recently, neither player is expected to make an impact in 2020.
Two key voices are still in the mix in Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, but if Dillard isn’t mentally strong enough to fill the void and step up into the LT role full-time than the unit that has helped keep this team relevant is going to start drifting back towards average. These changes also could have a significant impact on the potential health of QB, Carson Wentz, the oft-injured signal-caller. Remember, there’s no Nick Foles waiting in the wings in 2020 to save the day if Wentz goes down.