Eagles mailbag: What's the plan if Jason Kelce retires?

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Dave Zangaro
·6 min read
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Eagles mailbag: What's the plan if Kelce retires? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Still waiting.

I answered the first bunch of your questions to start the weekend.

Let’s get to some more now (one more batch coming Monday):

Obviously, it wouldn’t be good news if Jason Kelce decides to retire. And based on his appearance on Chris Long’s Green Light podcast, Kelce is still contemplating his future. Without knowing what the Eagles would do in the draft, the initial plan would probably be to slide Isaac Seumalo from left guard to center and then replace him with either Nate Herbig and Sua Opeta. That wouldn’t be too bad, but they’d obviously miss the All-Pro in the middle of the offense.

During the season on a video call with Seumalo, I actually asked him about whether or not he’d be able to play center at this point in his career.

“Coach Stout (Jeff Stoutland) knows I’m always willing to help out the team in any way I can and play wherever, which was the theme of my first 3-4 years,” he said. “Now I’m kind of just playing at one spot. But I feel comfortable if the call came because of injuries or something, I could play center. But I’m gonna trust the coaches and the five guys they put out. First and foremost I gotta do my job to the best of my abilities and look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and make sure I’m doing everything I can to individually help the team.”

It’s interesting because when the Eagles drafted Seuamalo there was the thought that he could possibly replace Kelce at some point. But here we are five full years into Seumalo’s career and he’s primarily been at left guard. I wonder if this is almost like a Lane Johnson situation. Lane was drafted to be Jason Peters’ replacement at left tackle but he was at right tackle so long and got so good there, the Eagles ended up just drafting a different guy to replace JP.

I like that you’re trying to get creative but you just left Seumalo out of the starting lineup and Seumalo is going to be a starter. Maybe if Kelce retires, you can say Andre Dillard could slide to left guard instead of Herbig or Opeta. But remember what happened when the Eagles tried to change positions on Dillard in his rookie year? He was a disaster at right tackle.

It’s a good problem to have, I guess, but it definitely looks like the Eagles have two starting-caliber left tackles. If Mailata wins the job, I really think Dillard is just going to be on the bench as the backup. We can call him the backup swing tackle but if he really can’t play on the right side, he’s the backup left tackle and the Eagles might have to move Jordan Mailata to the right side if Johnson ever goes down.

Now you’re thinking. If tossing in Dillard is what gets the Wentz deal done, then the Eagles would probably go along with it. I’m not sure how much value Dillard has around the league right now. He was obviously a 1st-round pick but 1st-rounders are like new cars when you drive them off the lot. And he’s two seasons in and we haven’t really seen a whole lot from him yet. I still think he has the tools to be a good player but I don’t know if he will be.

Well, this is always the plan. Howie Roseman has tried to explain the use of older veterans in recent years on a “go for it” type of mentality but it also has to do with the lack of high-level talented players the Eagles have drafted. Then you get into the debate of drafting vs. coaching: Are the Eagles not drafting talented players or were the coaches not able to develop talent? I tend to think it’s more of the former but they definitely work hand in hand.

Starting with last year, there’s an obvious goal to start building through the draft better with an abundance of picks. The Eagles made 10 picks last year and they are expected to have seven picks this year and that’s before any potential trades. So the Eagles want to get as many lottery tickets as possible and that’s a good strategy, especially for a franchise that has struggled to nail picks. As far as the coaching staff goes, the Eagles better hope this new staff can develop talent because they will have a lot of young players coming in over the next couple years.

I really hate that I have an answer for this but I have spent days of my life in O’Hare. Normally, I find myself in Terminal 3, so if I have some time with a delay or a layover, I’ll go to O’Briens. It’s near the food court but it’s a little nicer than grabbing food at the food court. It’s overpriced but you’re in an airport without many options, so deal with it. And it’s a little quieter in there, so it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of that crazy airport.

Funny story about that airport: My sister lives in Illinois and has for many years and I would visit her when I was a little kid. My parents would pay the extra money so I’d be taken care of as an unaccompanied minor. One time I was flying back from O’Hare and everyone on the plane was being really nice to me but everyone was calling me Phil and I had no idea why and was too shy to correct them. When the plane landed, they called over the loudspeaker something like, “unaccompanied minor Dave can exit now.” So I quickly got up and hurried out as the passengers around me, very confused, started saying, “Phil, they didn’t call you yet.” On the ride home with my parents, I realized the airline put a name tag on me that said PHL, the abbreviation for the Philadelphia airport, and everyone thought my name was Phil.

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