The Eagles have had a lot of changes to their coaching staff over the years, but one consistency has been offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Honestly, it’s always a pleasure to hear the OL mastermind speak, even when he’s just answering questions, you walk away learning something.
He spoke to reporters on Thursday and said it is truly an honor to be able to coach the guys he has in the OL room right now, and it’s not something he takes for granted.
On Cam Jurgens
While it wasn’t ideal that Jason Kelce was sidelined with his elbow injury, Stoutland was happy that Jurgens got some extra experience.
“To play with the first group. To see what he’s capable of doing against our first defense. To see how he can play against high level players. That’s your only true test. That’s the only way you know, and he handled himself unbelievable.”
There’s a chance Jurgens doesn’t get another chance to play this season now that Kelce is back in the lineup, but Stout was honest about wanting the rookie to get some experience at guard, as well. He mentioned that Jurgens couldn’t get those other reps during training camp while Kelce was dealing with his elbow, so now he has an opportunity to be cross-trained a bit more.
He later was asked if Jurgens making plays down field in the preseason reminded him of Kelce, but Stoutland admitted he doesn’t think it’s right to compare anyone to Kelce. He explained though, that some of those qualities like being not only big but quick, and being able to affect things in the second level, are critical factors that Jurgens has.
The OL coach also highlighted the strength of Jurgens’ hands, noting that it took Jordan Mailata two years to figure out how to use his hands the way they are asking him to, but with Jurgens, he’s been able to pick that up quickly because of how strong his hands are.
On Landon Dickerson
Stoutland got animated (although, when is he not?) when asked about Dickerson, claiming the second-year player is “light years” ahead of where he was last year.
“Not even close. Not even the same player.”
He went on to explain that he sees a guy who is playing with low hips, and quickly bumping off the twist stunts, and redirecting his feet. Stoutland pointed out that Dickerson struggled a little bit last season to change direction as he was coming off the injury, but it was really evident in their joint practice and preseason game against Miami that he’s made strides.
“I’m really excited. I would say — you didn’t ask me this, but if you said to me who’s the most improved player? I would say it was him.”
On lineman being versatile
Stout talked about the challenges in guys changing sides along the offensive line. He noted that the worst way to get beat is underneath because it’s the fastest way to the quarterback, and the angle players take to protect that space can be so engrained it’s hard to switch sides. He mentioned that Jordan Mailata was so green at football in general, it was easy early on to move him back and forth, but for other guys who have always played either on the right or left, it’s more challenging to make the changes.
The OL coach said that Jack Driscoll needs to start being a bit more like Isaac Seumalo used to be back in the day — pointing to a game against Baltimore years ago when Seumalo lined up at five different positions. But, he thinks that Driscoll is at the point where he could be that kind of player. The coach emphasized that when you’re not a starter in the NFL you have to create value for yourself and the organization by being able to play multiple positions.
Stoutland mentioned playing multiple positions was the reason that undrafted free agent Josh Sills ended up making the 53-man roster.
“That’s the reason. Sills played center at West Virginia, he played tackle, he played guard, he played every position. I didn’t know he could play tackle like that when we put him in there, I was a little bit shocked, like ‘Wow, this guy can get this done.’ From watching the technique and the way he takes coaching, and understands what I’m teaching.”
He referenced a couple years ago when they had eight different offensive lineman go on IR, and needing to make sure they had the depth, and versatility among those depth players, to still be successful.
Stoutland was later asked more about Seumalo who is coming off an injured season and also moved from left to right guard.
“I’ve said this for a long, long time, Isaac is a tremendous player. I think Isaac is the most — like he’s such an underrated player because of probably his demeanor. He’s quiet, he doesn’t say much, but when he speaks in our meeting — and he does speak in our meeting, that’s his comfort zone —, when he talks about technique and he gets up and he does, players listen. Like on film, guys are like amazed at what he can do. The screen games, the perimeter game, the guy is unbelievable.”
The OL coach acknowledged that Seumalo’s past versatility has helped him make the move to the right side, but also pointed out that he loves to teach and is always talking to younger players, even tackles, and making impressive points.