Sometimes injuries force tough evaluations to happen on the fly. In the case of Jason Peters, it’s a real dilemma.
Peters is a future Hall of Famer, one of the greatest left tackles to ever do it. The man known as “The Bodguard” has been out of the starting lineup since injuring his knee on Oct. 13 against the Vikings. The Eagles drafted Peters’ replacement in Andre Dillard back in April’s draft and the rookie has been thrown into the fire. He’s emerged unscathed.
In fact, Dillard has been turning heads with his play on the field. The 22nd overall pick keeps getting better and better, and punctuated his case for taking Peters’ job by dominating the Bears’ Khalil Mack. The much-criticized FOX broadcast team didn’t call his name once — and that’s a good thing. Dillard has arrived and should start the remainder of the year.
Doug Pederson Leaves Room for Doubt on Peters’ Future
Doug Pederson indicated that Jason Peters remains the starter at left tackle when he’s recovered from injury. However, the head coach left just enough doubt that it’s not an open and shut case. The Eagles will evaluate Dillard’s recent play during the bye week before making any brash decisions.
“I think moving forward, something we’ll evaluate this week, I’ve been really impressed with Andre, number one,” Pederson told reporters Monday. “I do think when JP is healthy and comes back, I still think it’s JP’s position moving forward.”
When asked specifically if Peters would reprise his starting role after the bye week, Pederson said yes. “If JP is ready to go, yes.”
Dillard’s Confidence Keeps Growing Every Day
Rookie left tackle Andre Dillard admitted that he had to get over the fact he was lined up against Khalil Mack. The Bears’ pass-rusher is arguably the best in the business as evidenced by three All-Pro nods and four Pro-Bowl selections. He’s a beast. And Dillard had a quick reality check upon seeing him.
“First of all, I was like, ‘Holy crap, this is Khalil Mack in front of me,’” Dillard said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’d say I had to grow up a little bit faster than normal.”
Then, the first-round pick settled in and neutralized Mack. For all the grief Eagles GM Howie Roseman has been getting about whiffing on draft picks, he seems to have nailed this one. Dillard is the real deal.
“His confidence is just growing,” said tight end Zach Ertz, via Eagle Maven. “At that position I feel your confidence is the number one thing. You can put away all the athleticism, the weight, whatever it is, but at the end of the day, if you’re a confident tackle it’s going to take you a long way. It’s not something that happens overnight.”
To be fair, Mack did finish with four tackles, one quarterback pressure and a pass defensed during the Eagles’ 22-14 win. And Dillard did receive help with chip blocks and the use of an extra tight end. Still, the film shows he’s a baller and the Eagles need to strongly consider making him their permanent left tackle.
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