July 10, 2023   5 MIN READ

Great Wall Of South Philly

2023 Season Preview Series: OL Once Again Highlights Birds Offense

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth story in a series by Inside The Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles season. In Part 6, they identify the Eagles’ strongest position on offense for 2023).

Follow the whole series:
Part 1: Most impactful rookie
Part 2: Biggest second-year player impact
Part 3: Breakout 2023 performer
Part 4: Most significant free-agent addition, offense
Part 5: Most significant free-agent addition, defense

GETTY IMAGES: Lane Johnson (left) and Jason Kelce aren’t just great Eagles offensive linemen; they’re the best NFL players at their positions.

Geoff Mosher: Offensive line

One could argue the Eagles have a top-five wide receiver tandem in A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, a pair that combined for more than 180 receptions and 2,650 receiving yards last year to help form one of the NFL’s most prolific passing attacks.

Only the South Florida duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for more receiving yards and one more reception than Brown and Smith tallied, but the Eagles’ pair totaled more touchdown catches than the Dolphins’ wideouts.

Likewise, the Eagles are suddenly as deep as they’ve ever been at running back, with two – D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny – who each averaged more than 5 yards per carry last season and, when healthy, would be any team’s lead back.

Combine them with Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott and Trey Sermon and you’d be hard-pressed to find another team outside of the 49ers with more talent at this position from top to bottom.

Still, there’s no question the strongest position of the Eagles’ offense is – and has been for a few years – its offensive line.

With three Pro Bowlers, two of which are also first-team All Pro, the Eagles have no equals when it comes to dominating the trenches.

The 35-year-old Jason Kelce, a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first team All Pro, ages like a $500 bottle of Merlot. Few centers carry as much responsibility and autonomy as him.

Lane Johnson, who inked another extension in the offseason, played through a torn adductor tendon at the end of last year – an injury that would sideline most football players and debilitate normal human beings – and didn’t miss a beat through the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Second-year left guard Landon Dickerson made the Pro Bowl and left tackle Jordan Mailata, a 2018 seventh-round pick, has started 40 games last year to join Kelce as another late-round pick who’s defied the odds to anchor a spot on the NFL’s top offensive line.

The Eagles have an emerging superstar at quarterback, a top-five tight end, a receiving pair that could actually be even better in 2023, and so many good running backs that they’ll have trouble keeping them all, but none of them can flourish without the offensive line being as dominant as it is.

Scary thought, eh?

Lane Johnson

GETTY IMAGES: RT Lane Johnson signed another extension this offseason.

Andrew DiCecco: Offensive line

Garnering conceivable MVP consideration for much of the season, Jalen Hurts valiantly orchestrated a high-octane Eagles offense which achieved historic heights amid its second Super Bowl appearance in five seasons.

Wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith became the first receiving tandem in franchise history to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving barrier. Brown surpassed Mike Quick’s longstanding receiving record of 38 years in the season finale versus the New York Giants, the same afternoon in which Smith established a new franchise single-season receptions record, narrowly nudging out Irving Fryer’s 88-catch season in 1996.

Running back Miles Sanders broke the 1,000-yard rushing milestone for the first time in his career. Hurts himself accounted for 4,461 scrimmage yards and 35 touchdowns.

Impressive feats to be sure, but the unbridled offense is only as strong as its line.

Anchored by veteran mainstays, center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson – and renowned offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland – the team continues to abide by its validated philosophy of strengthening the trenches while also supplementing its superlative starting five with quality depth.

Even Hurts’ blindside protector, Jordan Mailata, showed dominance at times despite navigating an early-season shoulder ailment.

With the 26-year-old Mailata now at full strength, and left guard Landon Dickerson rapidly becoming recognized as one of the league’s top guards playing beside him, growth is to be expected.

Absurd as it might seem on the surface, the Eagles will go into the season with as many as four viable Pro Bowl candidates.

Perhaps splitting hairs here, but if there is one area of concern, it could be right guard, where Cam Jurgens and rookie Tyler Steen will contend for a starting spot in camp.

Still, under Stoutland’s tutelage, we’ve grown accustomed to plug-and-play performers in the trenches.

Whether it’s unlocking a new-look running game or reestablishing an explosive aerial attack, it all starts up front.

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffpmosher) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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