Former Eagles Pro Bowl LT Tra Thomas Weighs in on the Void at Left Tackle
2 September 2020 Interviews
Who better, than a former Eagles Left Tackle, could share some insight on the current situation going down during camp in regard to the offensive line? Tra Thomas played eleven seasons in the midnight green, and was sent to the Pro Bowl in 2001, 2002, and 2004.
As everyone knows by now, the Eagles starting offensive line has been barred by season ending injuries before the 2020 regular season has even started. First they lost Brandon Brooks to an achilles injury, and now Andre Dillard is done for the year with a biceps tear. Following Brooks’ injury, the Eagles decided to re-sign savy veteran Jason Peters as a Right Guard to fill Brandon’s absence. However, with Dillard going down nobody knows what to do, not even the Eagles coaching staff.
I asked Tra, “Who do you believe will play Left Tackle for the majority of the 2020 season?” He replied, “Who knows. That position might be next man up all year because I don’t see Jason Peters making it the entire season at Right Guard.” The interior offensive line is much different than playing Tackle, especially at an older age. Doug Pederson and the Eagles offense is very high on misdirection and deception in the run game; they expect their guards to be stout in pass protection while being athletic enough to pull to both sides of the football.
However, at this point, protecting Carson Wentz is of utmost importance. Thomas said, “Run blocking isn’t the problem. This is a passing league.” This is fact; in 2019 the Eagles attempted 613 passes while running the ball 454 times, and this pass/run split is seen across the NFL. So why not put the bodyguard, Jason Peters, back to his regular position? Two reasons: the Eagles want to focus on maturing young talent and the fact that Peters is asking for a higher salary at Left Tackle.
I asked Tra what he thought was the real issue and if he believed the Peters contract negotiation rumors are true. He said, “I do think it’s a contract issue and if they don’t end up wanting to pay him, he’s staying at Right Guard.” So far it seems the Eagles staff is much more set on keeping Peters on the right side, and allowing a younger lineman to take the reigns at Left Tackle. Thomas alluded to the fact that he doesn’t know much about the new linemen faces at Eagles camp, “I don’t know much about the rookies. I’m not wasting time watching their college film because all of that doesn’t matter now.”
It’s one thing to perform well in college but the NFL is just a different breed, it’s the best of the best. It’s also a tough ask for young lineman, who had thought they’d be backups, to fluidly learn a full offensive playbook and scheme with such a shortened camp and no pre-season. Thomas said, “I do think it’s too close to the season opener to have all of these OL questions, but isn’t that so 2020? The playbook is just different variations of the same thing. The terminology would be the most difficult thing. With that being said, ten days until the season opener would make it hard for someone new coming in.”
I then flirted with the idea of Brandon Brooks coming back mid-to-late season being that his recovery process has gone so well to date. Brooks would step back into his role at Right Guard and would alleviate some pressure off of this battered position group. Thomas said, “I don’t think Brandon should come back. I think he needs to take this full season off to heal up.”
So I asked him what is the best option for the Eagles to do with the void at Left Tackle, and his answer was quite simple, “I would give Jason Peters the pay bump and move him back to Left Tackle.”
This would result in the following starting offensive line: LT Jason Peters, LG Isaac Seumalo, C Jason Kelce, RG Matt Pryor, and RT Lane Johnson, a group that played ample amounts of time together in the 2019 season.