The 2020 NFL season has not even started yet, but the Philadelphia Eagles have already suffered significant setbacks. Earlier this offseason, the team lost Brandon Brooks to a torn Achilles. And on Thursday, Andre Dillard decimated the Eagles’ Super Bowl chances after suffering a season-ending injury. Philadelphia’s latest personnel loss will only make Carson Wentz’s mission of shedding his “injury-prone” label much more difficult.
The Eagles already lost one of their best offensive linemen
Coming off a 9-7 season that ended in a first-round playoff defeat, the Eagles entered the offseason with a few areas to fix. However, the offensive line appeared well-stocked compared to other position groups. Yet, Carson Wentz’s protection took a hit when Brandon Brooks suffered a torn Achilles in June.
Originally a third-round pick by the Houston Texans, Brooks joined the Eagles as a free agent in 2016. Since coming to Philadelphia, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound right guard has developed into one of the best at his position. Brooks has earned Pro Bowl honors in three straight seasons. However, his Achilles injury will sideline him until 2021.
Philadelphia brought back longtime left tackle Jason Peters to fill Brooks’ spot. It seemed like the Eagles avoided a disaster by signing Peters to a one-year deal to serve as a stopgap solution. Only his role with the team will change entirely thanks to another injury.
Andre Dillard decimates Eagles’ Super Bowl chances
Having already lost one of their top offensive linemen for the year, the Eagles could not afford another blow to their starting five. However, on Thursday, that’s exactly what happened. Left tackle Andre Dillard will also miss the 2020 NFL season after tearing his biceps in practice.
Derrick Gunn first reported the injury via Twitter before various reporters confirmed the injury will indeed end Dillard’s season.
The Eagles just drafted Dillard with the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. As a rookie, he started only four games. However, Philadelphia planned on the 6-foot-5, 335-pounder starting at left tackle this year.
Instead, the Eagles will be without the promising second-year pro for the entire season. That represents a devastating blow to their Super Bowl chances. The 38-year-old Peters now has to shift back to his old spot, which leaves a gaping hole at right guard again. Even Peters has durability concerns after missing 12 games since 2017.
To count on Peters to last all 16 games (plus the postseason) is a tall task considering his age and injury history. Plus, moving him back to tackle means Philadelphia must find a starting right guard. Overall, the offensive line now looks like a major issue that could prevent the team from making a Super Bowl run.
Losing Brooks and Dillard won’t help change the narrative on Carson Wentz
While the Eagles still have time to find answers to their offensive line problems, losing Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks for the year hurts Carson Wentz in more ways than one.
From a pure football perspective, his protection will likely suffer without the two towering linemen. Dillard excelled as a pass-blocker in college and boasts the ideal physical traits teams look for in a franchise left tackle. Brooks surrendered just two sacks last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Moreover, Wentz has his own health to worry about. The former No. 2 overall pick has watched each of his last three seasons end with an injury. In 2017, he tore his ACL in the midst of an MVP-caliber campaign. In 2018, a back injury resulted in the Eagles shutting down their young quarterback for the remainder of the season. Last year, Wentz got knocked out of Philadelphia’s first-round playoff matchup thanks to a controversial hit to the head by Jadeveon Clowney.
As he heads into his fifth NFL season, Wentz’s chances of shedding the “injury-prone” label just took a major hit. Given the Eagles’ personnel losses along the offensive line, he will have a difficult time avoiding injuries if Philadelphia’s starting five cannot provide sound protection. Another injury-shortened season could also result in pressure to play Jalen Hurts.
Ultimately, the Eagles face an uphill battle to keep their quarterback upright. And with Andre Dillard now out for the year, their chances of winning Super Bowl 55 just suffered a devastating blow.