Through the first four weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles have been on a roll. They’ve won four different games in four different ways, have finely tuned the scheme of Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon with perfectly-fitting players, and even when the occasional controversy has arisen, like when Darius Slay left Week 4 after just three snaps, the team’s “next man up” mentality has kept things copacetic.
And yet, in Week 5, the Eagles will face their toughest challenge yet, not just because the Arizona Cardinals are a good football team, but because Philly will be without Jordan Mailata, the team’s $100 million left tackle, who has been downgraded to out with a shoulder injury.
Unfortunate? You bet; Mailata has rapidly become not only the best young offensive tackle in the game, but the prototype for what teams are looking for in a 21st-century left tackle – minus the whole “never played football before” aspect of his backstory. Still, the Eagles did play without Mailata for 76 offensive snaps in Week 4, good for 93 percent of their total offensive snaps, and his replacement, Jack Driscoll, played really well in his stead, allowing just one sack on 30 pass blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. While Driscoll isn’t a prototypical left tackle and may even see his spot in the starting lineup taken up by Andre Dillard if the Washington State product is activated from IR while Mailata is still on the mend, having a versatile swingman who can play any position across the offensive line is incredibly valuable, even if Driscoll’s best long-term position may be at right guard sandwiched between Cam Jurgens and Lane Johnson.
The Cardinals are a talented team, they can score, they can generate turnovers, and they run the ball in a way not too dissimilar from the Eagles. If they have one weak point, however, it would be their ability to rush the passer, as they’ve averaged just one sack per game through the first month of the NFL season and rank 28th in terms of pass rushing grade, according to Pro Football Focus. While that doesn’t mean the Eagles should take Arizona lightly per se, as they do employ JJ Watt, it does mean that Driscoll could be in for another confidence-building outing as he fills Mailata’s massive shoes.
Eagles say Jordan Mailata is also out for tomorrow. Jack Driscoll will start at LT https://t.co/IEbNx6VXGG
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 8, 2022
Andre Dillard is readying himself for a Philadelphia Eagles return.
When asked about how close he is to a return now that his 21-day practice window has opened, Dillard explained his status, as passed along by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank.
“I know that I’m close,” said Dillard. “But I haven’t played football in a long time. I need to knock the rust off.”
Sirianni echoed Dillard’s statement, effectively informing fans not to expect to see the fourth-year tackle on the field in Week 5.
“You know, just because we open the window doesn’t necessarily mean (he’s ready),” Sirianni said. ”Obviously, we’re to a point where we want to get him out there and practice, but he’s different than the other (injured) guys (because) he’s got to get into football shape. He’s been out of the game for the last month. He’s got to get himself in a position where he can be able to play.
“So there’s a little bit more – I don’t want to say unknowns because there’s unknowns with all the guys, but he’s got an extra element, an extra hurdle to be able to clear.”
Fortunately, Dillard is taking his situation in stride, as he isn’t exactly a stranger to controversy or struggle at this point in his NFL career, as Eagles fans who expected him to become the heir apparent to Jason Peters surely already know.
“I’ve been itching to get back at it for a long time now,” Dillard said. “Just not being suited up on game day was the hardest part of it. Having some major FOMO wishing I could be out there. All the other stuff just takes time and hard work.”
Injury Update: Jordan Mailata's game status has been downgraded to Out and Kyron Johnson's status has been upgraded to No Status from Questionable. https://t.co/hTvn7PmO49
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 8, 2022