Jeff Stoutland on why Landon Dickerson is Eagles' most improved offensive lineman

·3 min read

Stoutland on the Eagles' most improved offensive lineman originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

How much farther along is Landon Dickerson from this point last year, when he was just starting to practice after missing all of training camp?”

Jeff Stoutland absorbs the question.

And just sits there staring into space for a second. Silent. Motionless.

Then he just flat-out shouts the answer.

“Light years! Not even close! Not even the same player!”

Then he pauses again and mimics the Eagles beat writer who asked the question (me).

“Why coach? What do you mean by that?”

There’s nobody quite like Stoutland, who may be the first Eagles coach in history to actually ask himself a question during a press conference.

He’s not only a character with his dry sense of humor, richly detailed stories and distinctive “dis and dat” Staten Island accent, he’s one of the greatest offensive line coaches in history.

He’s coached Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson and Evan Mathis to 13 Pro Bowls – none made a Pro Bowl before they were coached by Stout – and his latest project is Dickerson, a budding Pro Bowler who makes his first opening-day start Sunday when the Eagles face the Lions in Detroit.

Dickerson has become such a fixture for the Eagles at left guard it’s easy to forget that this time last year, he hadn’t even been a full practice participant yet.

He was coming off a torn ACL suffered in Alabama’s 2020 SEC Championship Game win over Florida in Atlanta, he had missed all of training camp and he wasn’t even a full practice participant until Sept. 15.

He was inactive for the opener vs. the Falcons but dressed out in Week 2 against the 49ers and took over at right guard when Brandon Brooks’ season (and career) ended with a pec injury. He made his first start a week later at right guard against the Cowboys, but when left guard Isaac Seumalo suffered a season-ending foot injury, it opened the door for Dickerson to move to left guard.

Where he remains.

With a healthy Seumalo now at right guard, Dickerson has found a permanent home at left guard, and Stoutland lavished some pretty high praise on the 23-year-old.

“I see a guy playing with low hips, I see a guy who struggled a little bit to change direction coming off the injury (last year) trying (but) not there yet,” he said. “Now I see a guy – you watch the Miami (joint practice) stuff, if you guys were at practice  – you could see how quickly he was bumping off the twist stunts and how he was redirecting his feet.

“To me, that’s a different type of player. 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.”

It’s a good thing Stoutland is lavishing praise on Dickerson because Dickerson is notoriously hard on himself.

You’ll never hear him admit he’s playing well, no matter how hard you try.

“It’d be pointless to say I’ve arrived somewhere,” he said last year. “There's no point in getting satisfied. Because you get complacent. And you get complacent, you stop playing in the NFL. Always set the bar high."

He’ll only acknowledge that he has a long way to go and focus on his mistakes and shortcomings. Which are pretty hard to find.

“All the great players I’ve ever coached feel that way,” Stoutland said. “I could give you examples of every guy I’m coaching right now (who feel the same way). One thing happened yesterday. The guy was pissed.

“But that’s how good players are. They want it to be perfect, they want it to be the very best. It’s not OK to do something half-assed or make a mental mistake when you know the answer to that.”

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