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Brandon Brooks Vaults To NFL's Upper Echelon

  • In his second season with the Eagles, offensive guard Brandon Brooks became a star. Now he's looking for even more in Year 3.

Almost lost in everything that happened in 2017 – and boy, did a lot happen! – was the Pro Bowl season put together by right guard Brandon Brooks. Signed by the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2016 season, Brooks came into his own a season later and was a dominating player, part of the reason the Eagles were so good at the line of scrimmage on offense.

It truly may have been one of the quietest Pro Bowl seasons we've seen around here in a long, long time. Amid all the offensive domination and the rash of injuries and the change at the quarterback position, Brooks settled into the offensive scheme and structure, elevated his play with the guidance of line coach Jeff Stoutland and formed a partnership with right tackle Lane Johnson that gave the Eagles the best guard-tackle combination the league.

"Brandon is a big man who is athletic and who plays at an extremely high level on a consistent basis," Stoutland said. "He's been everything we thought he would be. He goes out there and does his job and he does it well. He can match up against anyone. What he and Lane have done together is really special and is extremely important to what we do on offense. We run a lot of our offense through those two."

In his first year with the Eagles, though, Brooks's performance was impacted by bouts with anxiety, which forced him to miss two games. Brooks was good when he played, but the anxiety issues held him back from being truly great. After an offseason during which Brooks sought help and found the solution for his anxiety, he played at a dominating level. He was the player the Eagles saw when they made him a big-ticket free agent signing after his four seasons with the Houston Texans. Teams generally don't let talented, young offensive linemen become available in free agency. Whatever Houston didn't like when they evaluated Brooks, the Eagles loved.

And so Brooks was a top priority in that year's free agency and the Eagles made a deal happen.

"You just don't see a lot of guys that big and that strong who are so athletic," Howie Roseman said. "He was still a developing player. Getting him in here with Stout and working him into the system, we felt his best football was ahead of him."

And that's exactly what's happened. With more to come, by the way. The Eagles have a great thing going along the offensive line, returning all five starters who played in the Super Bowl and having a future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jason Peters, set to reclaim his starting job at left tackle from Halapoulivaati Vaitai after recovering from his knee injury. It is expected, barring any setbacks, that when the Eagles open the season on September 6, they will have Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brooks, and Johnson as the starting five up front.

"Playing together for as long as we have now, it's a huge benefit for us," Brooks said. "We know each other so well and that allows us to anticipate movement and how to react in certain situations. There is a great level of confidence and trust in each other. I'm excited about what we've been doing. I think we can be better than we were last year. There is always room for improvement."

For a team that has so many storylines and so many stars to watch with Training Camp ahead, Brooks is about as anonymous as a Pro Bowl player can be. He's earned every bit of success in his career from the time he was a third-round pick by Houston in the 2012 draft. It's not an easy transition from college to the NFL and it's not easy at all leaving one system and joining another, as Brooks did when he came to Philadelphia.

But it's all worked beautifully after a tough first season. Brooks is entrenched. He's got the game and now he's got his Pro Bowl reputation in the league, even if not many fans recognize Brooks as one of the best in the game.

"That stuff doesn't matter to me," he said. "I'm just out there doing my job and the people who know and who watch, they understand. We're a team up front and our success is measured that way, not on an individual basis."

True, but on an individual basis Brooks is special, and it's time we all took a moment to recognize his importance. The Eagles have something special on the right side of their outstanding offensive line with Brooks and Johnson dancing a championship dance, preparing for another season during which they hope – as individuals and together – to reach new heights at the line of scrimmage.

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