Eagles’ Landon Dickerson still incredibly hard on himself in Year 2

A fascinating look inside the mind of Landon Dickerson originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If you ask most folks how they think Landon Dickerson is playing this season, they’ll tell you he’s playing pretty well. Very well, even. Perhaps on the verge of becoming a star at his position.

If you ask Dickerson, the answer is very different.

“The team’s doing well, obviously,” Dickerson said this week. “I’ve pretty much been awful. But just try to get better every practice, every game.”

Dickerson, 24, has started all eight games for the Eagles this season at left guard and by most accounts is playing well.

Does he really think he’s been awful?

“I don’t know how I’m still on the team, honestly,” Dickerson said. “Being quite serious. I’ve had some very atrocious plays.”

Sure, it hasn’t been perfect. The Eagles’ second-round pick from a year ago has been guilty of some mental mistakes and he has been called for 4 penalties in 8 games after committing just 5 all of last season.

But awful? Not worthy of being on the team?

That’s obviously going overboard. But it does give a little insight into the way Dickerson’s mind works and the way he needs to operate to be at his best. Dickerson has a near-unattainable standard and he’s hard on himself when he doesn’t hit it.

As Dickerson ripped his own play on Thursday, his good friend and linemate Jordan Mailata silently listened and chuckled to himself from the next stall. Mailata knows Dickerson’s process as well as anyone.

“That’s just his demeanor,” Mailata said the next day. “We’re all hard on ourselves. We don’t want to tell ourselves we’re actually doing something good.”

While ProFootballFocus rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, Dickerson is ranked as the No. 17 guard in the NFL out of 81 qualified players.

In pass protection, Dickerson (6-foot-6, 332 pounds) hasn’t given up a sack this season and has allowed just six total pressures in eight games, according to PFF. Last season, Dickerson gave up a pressure every 15.7 snaps in pass protection; this year, he’s giving one up ever 44.7 snaps in pass pro. He has consistently graded out by most online services as one of the better pass protecting offensive guards in football this season.

“I think he’s playing amazing. I think he’s playing amazing,” Mailata repeated. “But we all have things we want to fix and we want to take back. I certainly understand that more than anyone. But Landon’s just so in the process of being where your feet are at.”

To be clear, this is not something new. From the time Dickerson began to play for the Eagles as a rookie, he’s talked about his play like this. It wasn’t new for him then either. His play is never good enough, he’s always working to improve.

When asked on Thursday what he specifically needs to improve, Dickerson said there are just a “lot of little things” he needs to get corrected in pass protection and in the run game.

“I’m just honest,” Dickerson said. “The world could be all sunshine and rainbows but there’s no reason to do that if it ain’t true.”

Dickerson explained that this is the way he’s always been wired and acknowledged it’s important for each player to understand how to get the best out of themselves. Some players might need some personal positive reinforcement, they might need to remind themselves that they’re in the NFL for a reason. They might need to build up their confidence.

Dickerson isn’t knocking that approach … but it ain’t for him.

“It depends on what motivates you,” he said. “I could sit back here and say I’m the best thing since sliced bread. It’s not true but if that’s the mindset someone needs to keep moving forward, you have to do what works for you.”

Dickerson tried to give an example. If he’s looking at 100 of his plays and 90 of them are deemed “good” and 10 are “bad,” sure, he’ll look at the good ones. But he’ll look at them quickly, see the things he did to be successful and then move on. The remaining 10? He’ll linger, looking at them at least five times as much to fix his mistakes.

It’s really about the process and not the results. It’s great that the Eagles are 8-0 but Dickerson sees a problem with the way some people — media members included — are too results-oriented.

“We’ve done good things but it’s been anything but perfect. That’s the issue,” Dickerson said. “When you get complacent being 8-0 saying, ‘Hey what we’re doing works, great, let’s just stay here.’ Well, then you end up getting your s— kicked in. That’s the thing. You really can’t look at it as 8-0, you really have to look at it one week at a time, one game at a time, one play at a time and move on from there.”

In addition to Dickerson’s obvious physical attributes — no question that Dickerson is big and strong — Eagles legendary center Jason Kelce also thinks Dickerson has the right disposition and temperament to be a “phenomenal” player in the NFL. That attitude is also necessary to survive in Jeff Stoutland’s offensive line room.

“I don’t think I’ve met a player that’s any good that’s not a perfectionist,” Kelce said. “Mistakes are unacceptable to good players.”

You might be wondering about Dickerson’s confidence because it’s such an important thing to have in the NFL.

Yes, Dickerson is hard on himself, but his teammates say he doesn’t lack confidence either. He probably wouldn’t be able to be this hard on himself if he was lacking in that area.

“He’s a very confident guy,” Mailata said. “He does tell himself, ‘Ah, I messed up, I’ll get it next time.’ Move on because he knows he’s a great player. He never questions if he’s a bad player. I know he made that joke, ‘I don’t know how I’m on this team,’ but he knows he’s a helluva player.

“But he doesn’t want to be reminded every day because he knows it. And you don’t have to remind him because he knows it. But he also knows if he doesn’t work his ass off … so he does.”

Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast

Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube