Eagles' deal for Peters was wise

The Eagles could have drafted a left tackle, but you won't find one in this year's draft outperforming Peters.
The Eagles could have drafted a left tackle, but you won't find one in this year's draft outperforming Peters.
Posted: November 29, 2009

It's a simple question that requires some research to answer: Was the deal that sent three draft picks, including a first-round selection, to the Buffalo Bills for Jason Peters worth it?

There's no question that the addition of Peters was the signature move of this Eagles off-season. It was followed by a bold declaration from coach Andy Reid that Peters was the best left tackle in football.

He's not.

Or at least he hasn't been this season.

That doesn't mean the Eagles made a bad decision or gave up too much to acquire Peters.

Reid is of the belief that any success his team hopes to have on offense is reliant upon the ability of his offensive linemen to protect quarterback Donovan McNabb.

It's clear the Eagles haven't been as good at that task this season as they were a year ago, when they allowed just 23 sacks, the lowest team total since 1981. The Eagles have already allowed 25 sacks going into today's game against the Washington Redskins.

But how much of that blame belongs to Peters?

According to the STATS Web site, Peters has allowed four sacks in nine games this season. A total of 22 left tackles have played at least nine games this season, and just 11 of those players have allowed four sacks or fewer.

It's impossible to know exactly how accurate those statistics are without watching the film of each player. Sacks allowed can be a subjective statistic.

"When you really break them down and study them, everyone has a little piece of those sacks, and they are distributed across the board with the offensive players and, at times, the coaches," Reid said.

That's true sometimes. Other times, the left tackle is supposed to block the right defensive end and it doesn't get done. It's a difficult job. Ask anyone who has ever spent a Sunday afternoon with Dwight Freeney, Jared Allen or Trent Cole.

That's why the Eagles gave Peters a six-year, $60.6 million deal after they traded for him.

Playing hurt is also a trait that teams look for from their offensive tackles. It was one of the things that made Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas so valuable during their lengthy time together here. Runyan never missed a game, and just three players in franchise history - Brian Dawkins, Harold Carmichael and Chuck Bednarik - have played in more games than Thomas.

It's still not clear how Peters will measure up in that respect. Two weeks ago, he sat out the Eagles' game against the San Diego Chargers with a sprained right ankle. He suffered the injury during a home game against Dallas the week before, but returned later in that Dallas game.

Nobody questioned Peters' toughness publicly, although Reid described the injury the day after he sat out the Eagles' loss at San Diego as being "a mild ankle sprain."

Since the Eagles' win over Chicago, the coach has called it a high ankle sprain and gushed about Peters' toughness.

"For him to be out there pushing through, it is a tribute to the guy," Reid said Wednesday. "He's a warrior. Every once in a while, that thing catches and grabs you and you have to shake it off and move on to the next play. For him to do what he's been doing against the players he's been doing it against is a tribute to the kid."

Peters' biggest downfall has been penalties. He has been flagged six times for 40 yards. His four false starts are tied for the third most in the league among left tackles. It's a penalty left tackles are most susceptible to because they're trying to make that quick first step against speed-rushing ends.

Some might argue that the Eagles would have been better off keeping Thomas, but he was beaten out by rookie Eugene Monroe for the starting job in Jacksonville. Thomas has started three games and has allowed three sacks, according to STATS.

At this point in their careers, Peters was the superior option to Thomas at left tackle for the Eagles.

Before the Eagles acquired Peters during the off-season, Reid said he would have been comfortable with either Todd Herremans or Shawn Andrews at left tackle. Herremans, of course, couldn't play the Eagles' first five games, and moving him would have weakened the rest of the offensive line. Andrews' need for a second back operation underscores how problematic it would have been if the Eagles had relied on him.

The Eagles could have drafted a left tackle, but you won't find one in this year's draft who is playing better than Jason Peters.

The answer to the above question is that the Eagles' deal for Peters was definitely worth it even if he isn't the best left tackle in the NFL.


 

Read The Inquirer's Eagles blog, Birds' Eye View, by Bob Brookover and Jeff McLane, at http://go.philly.com/sports.

Blog response of the week

Subject: Winston Justice contract extension

Posted by: Wondo40, at 12:58 p.m. Tuesday

"Quite a turnaround for No. 74. He deserves the contract. Never made excuses or complained when he was being skewered by the media and fans. Just kept working. That's all you can ask for."


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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