It’s been more than two years since the Eagles took the ultimate gamble on an Australian rugby player with no experience playing organized football. Jordan Mailata has battled injury after injury, and doubter after doubter. Through it all, the 6-foot-8, 346-pound gentle giant has stuck to one inspiring mantra. Even when his own skepticism crept in.
“I had those times, you know, where I was like, ‘What am I doing?’” Mailata told reporters. “I’ve always asked myself that, and then realized, ‘Yeah, this is what you wanted to do.’ I have this saying: Don’t dip your toe in the water; drown in it, and learn how to swim. I always go back to that saying and it pulls me out of that dark place. I’m swimming.”
"Don't dip your toe in the water. Drown in it and learn how to swim."
Jordan Mailata with a thoughtful saying on how he keeps his confidence and approached taking on football in the States. Now? He says he's swimming. @FOX29philly
— Kristen Rodgers (@KristenERodgers) October 8, 2020
Mailata started his first NFL game last week, filling in admirably for injured left tackle Jason Peters. He can pinpoint the exact moment when everything clicked. Remember, his own offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland, wasn’t sure if the soft-spoken Aussie who loves to use the word “mate” would make it. Despite being a sponge in team meetings, there was never proof it would translate onto the football field. Then, Andre Dillard got hurt.
“When Dillard went down. That’s when I had to really pick up my game, because I felt like they had to rely on me,” Mailata said. “And that’s when I started to sharpen the tools,” he said. ” I always told myself that if my number was called, I’d be ready. And that’s basically what happened.”
Jordan Mailata's development will be really interesting to watch. He didn't look that out of place having basically just started to learn the game. Legit Jason Peters heir? (Peters himself with an unconventional route to LT)
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 26, 2019
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Doug Pederson Molding Big ‘Ball of Clay’
If Mailata was a ball of clay, he would probably be used to mold a huge ancient vessel meant for a Pharoah or perhaps a big bubbling cauldron for a witch. He’s surely not built to be an ordinary flower vase or cooking pot. When Doug Pederson was describing the left tackle’s progression, he used the analogy of “molding clay” to show just how far Mailata has come — and just how much further he was to go.
“Jordan Mailata has come a long long way in his development. He did some good things yesterday. He is still like a ball of clay we are shaping and molding into a left tackle” pic.twitter.com/skoxbaPbgw
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 5, 2020
“You know, he’s a big man obviously,” Pederson told reporters. “He’s strong and when he is 100 percent accurate on what he’s doing on that particular play, it’s hard for defenders to get around him, whether it’s a pass block or a run block, when he’s right. So he’s still a work-in-progress. He’s still like a ball of clay that we are shaping and molding and making into a left tackle.”
Stoutland Saw ‘Confidence Level’ Grow in Mailata
Stoutland was asked very early in training camp about what he saw in the former Aussie rugby star. Everyone drooled over Mailata’s potential because everyone saw those viral YouTube videos. But how much longer could the Eagles wait on a developmental player?
They needed bodies to plug-and-play on the offensive line right now. While the Eagles’ offensive line coach wasn’t positive it would come together for Mailata back in August, it was never for lack of confidence.”
“He was a completely different guy in the meetings,” Stoutland told reporters on Aug. 2. “His confidence level — because we require these guys to know a lot to be able to convert blocking schemes and calls — completely, completely different in the meetings.”
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