The reality of the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles season is that they will win or fall thanks to their offensive line. That’s what history has taught us over the last decade, and with four All-Pro or Pro Bowl talents returning, you’d be hard-pressed to see a change anytime soon.
Of course, a big part of Philadelphia’s success along the offensive line in recent years has come thanks to the King of offensive line coaches, Jeff Stoutland. Stoutland’s now famous “Stoutland University” moniker has helped unknown projects become borderline Hall-of-Famers and top selections into the best at their position.
Stoutland’s job in 2023 isn’t expected to be a simple walk in the park though. Philadelphia lost Isaac Seumalo in free agency and now has a right guard battle between second-round center Cam Jurgens and third-round rookie Tyler Steen.
But just because he has to prepare a starting line to work together doesn’t mean that the main focus of teaching positional versatility is being lost either.
“It’s so early. That’s the great part of this. We lost some great players but to find out the swing value in a player, to be able to do things early before the main stuff starts, is extremely valuable,” Stoutland said after Friday’s practice. “We don’t wait (for an injury). We build our depth and get our people where we need to have them. We’re way ahead, we’re one step ahead. As we go on, we’ll hone in on that stuff.”
Versatility is key for Eagles OL…
Philadelphia has been known for moving around their drafted centers to guards to fill roster holes. Landon Dickerson, originally drafted out of Alabama as a center, has transitioned to guard since his rookie season and is now a Pro Bowl talent.
Stoutland and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff are hoping for a similar trajectory in Jurgens, even if his skill set is a little bit different than his teammate.
“He’s done well. It’s all new for him and I want to see the consistency from him. It’s still very early but I like what he’s doing. He’s got to stay consistent,” Stoutland said of Jurgens. “I will say that I know he was strong, but I didn’t know he was THIS strong. I’m impressed with the power and strength in Cam.”
Having Jurgens try out at guard while competing with a player like Steen (who has practiced even at tackle during training camp) only helps the depth along the Eagles’ offensive line. It’s how the team has continued to remain competitive even when difficult injuries have struck over the years.
Depth was also in the mind of the team when they brought back Dennis Kelly on the eve of training camp beginning. Stoutland had a previous relationship with Kelly when he was an Eagle during the Chip Kelly era and understands why having a veteran like him would be extremely helpful for the group.
“He played a little guard, right and left tackle. We’re trying to figure this all out now. if you aren’t a starting player, you need to have swing value, or else you won’t be one of the eight players we take to the game,” said Stoutland.
Few assistant coaches have as much power and pull within an organization like Stoutland has in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ offensive line coach has been promoted to run-game coordinator years ago and has survived three different coaching changes.
Under the Nick Sirianni era, Stoutland’s aura has grown to new heights. Philadelphia is coming off a Super Bowl berth, and the Eagles’ offensive line has never been more dominant. Part of their dominance has certainly come from the simplicity of the coaching staff.
“When you get really good at something, it’s hard to stop. Show me you can stop it first,” Stoutland stated.
So long as Jeff Stoutland is a part of the Eagles organization, it’s hard to see the Eagles’ offensive line as anything less than a dominating group. They have two potential Halll-of-Fame players still working strong, and two young Pro Bowl players just beginning to show their talent. As another training camp continues, Stoutland’s group continues to be universally praised.
Nothing new for a group looking to get back to the Super Bowl though.
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