Eagles OL shares best lessons learned from Jason Peters

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Jason Kelce remembers sitting in the offensive line film room a few years ago as the Eagles prepared to face the Vikings in an early-season game. Most of the focus that week was on stopping perennial Pro Bowler Everson Griffen.

Jason Peters watched just a few plays before saying, “Don’t sleep on 99.”

Before Danielle Hunter became a Pro Bowler himself — Kelce said no one really knew about Hunter back then — Peters saw something in him.

“And he knew just from watching a couple steps, how he moved, how he used his hands,” Kelce remembered. “Little things that in the offensive line room you get caught up looking at structure and scheme and technique and all these things. He was able to just pick it out, out of the blue.”

The Eagles will host the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football in a battle for NFC East supremacy. Peters, 40, signed with the Cowboys earlier this season, his 18th in the NFL. And it’ll be strange to see him with a star on his helmet.

Not only because Peters played 11 seasons in Philadelphia, made seven Pro Bowls, helped with a Super Bowl and will go down as one of the greatest players in franchise history. But also because a lot of the lessons he taught still resonate in the Eagles’ offensive line room.

Kelce said Peters “had the best feel for the game of anybody” he’s ever played with. He explained that Peters cared about things that went way beyond technique and coaching.

“I think a lot of players, and this is particular to offensive line play too, coaches have a tendency to be technicians,” Kelce said. “You take your first step and it’s 6 inches over the lead board, you take your next step here and boom, boom, boom. And that’s good. That’s a good base to have. But JP had just incredible awareness and feel for the game that when he already had that foundation, it allowed him to take his game to the next level and you saw it when you would watch film with him.”

That carried over off the field too.

“That’s how he kind of approached being in this building, kind of how he approached relationships,” Kelce said. “He was very much like a presence. If I’ve learned anything from him, don’t forget the fact that you’re a teammate, you’re with a group of guys and we’re out here doing this together.”

It’s clear that what Kelce learned most from Peters was on a more macro level. He taught him to think differently about the game. But don’t forget that Peters was a nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle for a reason. He was downright dominant in his prime.

And the dominant left tackle was always happy to help guide his younger teammates. That happened when the Eagles drafted Lane Johnson in the first-round back in 2013 and it happened when they drafted Jordan Mailata in the seventh round in 2018.

The advice Peters gave to both Johnson and Mailata was very similar.

“To get the f— off the line,” Mailata said. “Every day he stressed the importance of keeping the guy in front of you. And so the first way to do that is to kick off the ball, get off the line of scrimmage. That’s the best advice he’s ever given me. Stout echoing that just amplified everything a hundred times. That was the best thing he taught me.

“You want to beat a guy, the best thing you do is get to your spot, get off the rock. Always, always. He always emphasized that. I’m sure that’s what he’s telling (Cowboys left tackle) Tyler Smith that. You want to beat our rushers, you get the f— off the ball. That’s the emphasis.”

For years, Peters was known for his kick-step. Yes, later in his Eagles career that lead to a few false start penalties. But that first step helped him become one of the greatest players in franchise history.

And it’s a lesson he handed off to one of the best starting tackle combinations in the NFL.

“Just get off that ball quick,” Johnson said. “Really, when it goes down to it, a lot of tackles get beat because they’re not kick-setting fast enough or getting off the line of scrimmage. Everything about us is like a 100 meter race. That start is 80 percent of it.”

Earlier this week, Peters went on the Takeoff with John Clark podcast to clarify his comments about Eagles fans, who he says are the best in the NFL.

Peters was the best in the NFL for a long time too and he meant a lot to the franchise.

For some of the guys, he still does.

“He was much more of a guy who appreciated being a part of something,” Kelce said. “He always took younger guys under his wing, he was always out there trying to help guys off the field. ‘Hey, my truck’s breaking down.’ ‘Hey man, I got somebody who can take care of it. What you got going on? Is it making this noise? Is it this?’

“I mean, he was less interested, in my opinion, about some of the things maybe coaches are interested in and more interested in some of the things that make a team really close-knit and tight.”

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