When the Eagles' assistant coaches were made available to the media last week, one reporter asked Jeff Stoutland about the "three pillars" of the offensive line: left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce, and right tackle Lane Johnson. To no surprise, Stoutland had a lot of praise for his unit's best players.
"[Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson] are really good players," Stoutland said. "I feel like we have two left tackles that are playing on our team with Lane and JP. I mean that sincerely."
"Obviously, Kelce is the conductor of the whole band. He does an awesome job at what he does. He’s got a lot of respect from our team. The players here, you can ask any of them, he has a tremendous amount of respect from the players for what he’s all about."
The note about Johnson being considered as a left tackle certainly seems to foreshadow a position change for him once the 33-year-old Peters eventually retires, which is hardly a total surprise. But perhaps even more interesting was another comment Stoutland made.
"The other player that I really think is underrated is Allen Barbre," Stoutland said, without even being prompted to talk about the veteran. "Allen Barbre is a really good player. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Stoutland's words have been supported by Philadelphia's actions. Part of why the Eagles felt comfortable releasing 10-year starter Todd Herremans earlier this offseason was because they had a player like Barbre behind him. Barbre spent the 2013 season as the top backup offensive lineman at every non-center position. In 2014, he was slated to be the team's starting right tackle while Johnson served his four-game suspension. Unfortunately for Barbre, he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1.
The good news for Barbre is that he's recovered and ready to start in 2015. With Evan Mathis choosing not to attend voluntary OTA practices, Barbre has been lining up at first team left guard.
"Right now, he’s been playing some left guard and he looks really good there," Stoutland said.
Another profound comment made by Stoutland was him saying that players are good evaluators of their peers. This is especially interesting because it was Mathis who once highlighted Barbre before Eagles fans really knew who he even was. From an exclusive Bleeding Green Nation interview back in 2013:
"Allen Barbre is, at the very least, a starting caliber offensive guard," Mathis said. "If we were to lose a guard to injury, I'd be totally confident with him filling in."
The irony of that quote now is that Barbre may very well be replacing Mathis as a starter this season. One NFL insider recently said he's "pessimistic" about the chances of Mathis being on Philadelphia's roster this fall.
It remains to be seen how the Mathis situation plays out. In the meantime, the Eagles feel they have a solid starter in the 30-year-old Barbre.