PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When they’re intact and healthy, the Eagles have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. When there are holes to fill and inconsistencies, the Eagles could have trouble in 2019, and with Brandon Brooks still on the mend from a torn Achilles and the injuries that Jason Kelce, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson all sustained last season, it certainly opens the question as to how healthy the offensive line can stay.
Entering 2019, there may still be questions at both guard positions. Brooks’ health is a huge factor.
If he didn’t get hurt in the playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles may have advanced to the NFC championship. That’s how important Brooks is to the cohesion and stability up front.
The Eagles certainly showed confidence in left guard Isaac Seumalo, a third-round draft pick in 2016, when they signed him this offseason to a three-year deal through the 2022 season. Seumalo had the 2019 season remaining on his rookie contract.
“You’re talking about a guy who is athletic, smart and versatile,” Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said of Seumalo in 2018. “You saw it when he went out and played some at right tackle (as a rookie in 2016 against Baltimore) and played good football. He’s a young player who is coming on for us. He’s learning every day. It’s a difficult position to master and I’m pleased with the progress that Isaac is making. I like the way he’s playing football for us.”
In 2018, Seumalo appeared in 13 games and started in nine games. He is supposed to be Kelce’s heir apparent, but he just had one problem—snapping the ball. But Pro Football Focus did rank Seumalo 38th out of 88 guards in 2018, after allowing one sack and five hits.
Peters is locked into one more year, even though the future Hall of Famer had shown some signs of slowing down in 2018. According to Pro Football Focus, “Jason Peters is still one of the most reliable left tackles in the NFL. In his 13 seasons within the PFF era (2006-present), Peters has graded above 70.0 in all but the 2018 campaign.
“While Peters did record a career-low grade of 69.6 in 2018, much of that was to do with his downfall in the running game, where he turned in a run-blocking grade of just 62.4, 39th among all offensive tackles.”
But Peters played 79.49% of the Eagles’ offensive plays in 2018, and since 2014, his usual consistency has been uneven, playing 37.40% in his injury-shortened 2017 season, after playing 97.08% in 2016 and 65.74% in 2015. In 2013 and 2014, Peters played in over 90% of the game.
He’ll begin this season, his 16th, at 37 and the Eagles have already drafted his heir apparent in first-round pick Andre Dillard. Kelce has a contract extension, but he’s been also recovering from injuries in previous years, as has Johnson.
Seumalo is 25 and the only returning starter who has remained relatively healthy, while Brooks and Johnson are each 29 and Kelce is 31 with a lot of wear.
If there are any cracks in the high-octane offense that the Eagles will have in 2019, it could begin with how sturdy the Eagles’ offensive line is.