Former Eagles’ All-Pro Talks Andre Dillard’s ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment

Tra Thomas

Getty Tra Thomas was a three-time Pro Bowl player at left tackle for the Eagles in 11 dominant seasons.

Andre Dillard’s future as the starting left tackle in Philadelphia has been fiercely debated. Count one former Eagles great firmly in his corner.

Tra Thomas, arguably the second-best left tackle in franchise history, broke down every game from Dillard’s rookie year on his new “In the Trenches” YouTube segment. The former NFL All-Pro — and three-time Pro Bowl selection — busted out his markers and white board to analyze all the protections along the offensive line.

Dillard saw action in seven games in 2019, including one dreadful start against the Seahawks in Week 12 where he was benched at halftime. To be fair, the rookie was playing out of position at right tackle in that game and in two others (Week 11 versus New England, Week 1 versus Washington). Thomas said Dillard looked downright “uncomfortable.”

But, when Dillard moved to his natural position at left tackle, the results were pleasantly positive. Thomas’ main takeaway? The first-round pick out of Washington State deserves a chance to start.

“I give this young man all the props in the world for going out there and even trying to do this for the team, knowing it’s extremely uncomfortable for him,” Thomas said. “And that’s why I feel like this young man is deserving of the opportunity to go out there and have that start.”

In The Trenches with Tra Thomas: Trench Talk: Andre Dillard#TrenchTalk: Retired Eagles' All-Pro, Tra Thomas, breaks down Eagles' second year LT, Andre Dillard. Make sure to subscribe and come back for more of In the Trenches with Tra Thomas! *Not the owner of this footage. It is intended only to be used via Fair Use and is not monetized.2020-05-26T18:54:40Z

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Dillard Had ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment versus Chicago

In one of the funnier exchanges from Thomas’ film review was how he highlighted Dillard’s Week 9 game versus Chicago as his “Come to Jesus” moment. With the rookie lined up at left tackle, Dillard was in full control virtually the entire contest and expertly “sat down” to contain Khalil Mack’s dominant bull-rush.

“His hands are up, not too wide, and he’s ready to shoot his hands,” Thomas said.

The above kudos were given to Dillard in quite a few games from 2019, including in Week 6 against Minnesota and in Week 7 versus Dallas. He was up and down in Week 3 versus Detroit, with Thomas shouting: “Put on some damn braces” after one nasty fall from Dillard. The veteran’s point was all tackles should wear knee braces to protect themselves from injury.

Dillard’s two worst games came against New England and Seattle where he struggled mightily with “getting blown off the ball” and “bad footing.” He also needed to get more consistent with “lagging his inside shoulder” to combat getting beat inside.

“The Seattle game is where people started to question his mental toughness,” Thomas said. “But it wasn’t all bad.”

Jason Peters Not Signed to Free Agent Contract

This year, Dillard appears to be penciled in as the starter at left tackle for the Eagles in Week 1. Head coach Doug Pederson expressed confidence in him during a recent video conference call despite his ongoing flirtation with veteran free agent Jason Peters.

“As we move forward, Andre Dillard was the player that we drafted to be that left tackle for us,” Pederson told reporters on a video conference call. “The way that he played last year kind of propelled him … he’s taken command of that role. I have a ton of confidence in Andre Dillard playing the left tackle position.”

If Dillard heeds Thomas’ sage advice, there’s a good chance he’ll be the guy in 2020. And likely for the foreseeable future in Philadelphia.

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