The difference between Herbig and Dillard


Here is the state of the 2020 Eagles:

On Sunday, Nate Herbig will make his first career regular-season start at left guard and Matt Pryor will make his first career regular-season start at right guard.

Herbig moves from right guard to left guard to replace injured Isaac Seumalo, and Pryor — who had been the right guard during training camp — takes Herbig's spot.

The Eagles lost left tackle Andre Dillard for the season, Seumalo and Brooks indefinitely and Lane Johnson for the opener.

This will be the first time since before 1970 they’ll have a different starting offensive line in each of their first three games. In the opener, Jack Driscoll made his first career start at right tackle in place of Johnson.

The Eagles are lucky to have Herbig, who played only three snaps last year but has been the key to this rebuilt unit.

Remember when Dillard complained about moving from left tackle to right tackle last year?

“You probably write with your right hand, right?” he said last November. “So all of a sudden, say you had to write a big essay with your left hand. Right now. Think about how that would feel."

Two days later he got benched … which led to Pryor’s first career playing time.

Compare that to Herbig’s willingness to switch sides.

“It’s just a mindset,” he said. “I try to live my life, being undrafted, since I was young, I just feel like if you don’t make any excuses for yourself then that’s a good way to live your life. Move me to left guard — I’m excited. It’s a new opportunity, it’s a new challenge, and I’m just not going to make any excuses for myself. I’m going to go out there and do the best job I can.”

It’s a great mentality and it helps explain why Herbig — "Herbie" to his teammates — has gone from undrafted and riding the bench to blocking Aaron Donald almost overnight.

“It’s just that I have a job to do and Coach Stout trusts me to get the job done and I don’t want to let him down, I don’t want to let the team down,” he said. “I've got to do my best to do my job and do it well so we can win a game.”

Herbig’s approach helps explain how well he’s done in his first two starts. 

He’s tremendously focused and driven. Ask about the challenge of changing sides and he says this:

“I think of it as we’re 0-2 and we need to win this game, and all I’m thinking about is how I can do my job to help this team win this game,” he said. “That’s literally all I’m thinking and that’s been my mindset the whole week since they asked me to move to left guard, and that’s how I’m going to continue to approach it.”

Then there’s Pryor, who replaced Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right guard last year in the first Seattle game when Dillard got benched and Big V moved out to right tackle, started at right guard in the Seattle playoff game and replaced Seumalo at left guard last week.

Pryor could have taken it as a setback when Herbig got the opening-day start at right guard ahead of him, but he used it as motivation.

“That didn't really set me back,” he said. “Any kind of situation like that, it kind of makes somebody want to work harder. But at the end of the day, the coaches felt that it was what's best for the team, so there's nothing negative going on there. It just made me put things in perspective and get back on the track of working harder and putting myself in a position to be ready to get back on the field.”

Which is where he’ll be Sunday, when for the second time in three games, the Eagles will have two offensive linemen making their first career start at a specific position.

It’s not ideal, but for this team it’s definitely become the norm.

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