Few people were less surprised by the offensive line shakeup that saw Todd Herremans slide to right tackle and Evan Mathis move into the vacated left guard position than Mathis himself. Entering his eighth season, the 29-year-old Mathis had planned to work his way into the starting lineup once he decided to join the Eagles as a free agent.
"I didn't come here to make the team, I didn't come here with the intentions of being a backup," Mathis said. "I came here to win the starting job and that's where I am right now."
Mathis was looking for an opportunity. In his previous seven seasons, Mathis registered only 22 starts in 58 games, though perhaps to no fault of his own. After starting 15 games with the Carolina Panthers in 2006, Mathis didn't start again until he got seven starts with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009. That season, ProFootballFocus rated Mathis as the 10th best guard in all of football, as he allowed 0 sacks in 610 snaps.
"I came here with the confidence in my ability, the confidence that I would put the time in on the field and off the field to make it happen."
The reasons behind Mathis' choice to join the Eagles were two-fold, the offensive lineman said. First, there was the presence of offensive line coach Howard Mudd, whom Mathis, 6-5, 302, knew preferred athletic linemen. Second, Mathis was well-aware of the Eagles' track record of success throughout the Andy Reid era.
"To be able to find an organization like this at this point in my career, it's really good for me," Mathis said. "I think it'll be beneficial to me to play here in Philadelphia with such a well-run organization. I'm looking forward to what it can do for me."
What it has already done for Mathis is make him a starting left guard. Next on docket for Mathis and the rest of the projected starting offensive line is preparing for the long season ahead, beginning with the season opener in St. Louis on September 11.
"You hear a lot of clichés about the gelling and being in unison and continuity, but every single day we make progress," said Mathis. "As far as generating the continuity, gelling with my teammates, I've said it before - we're all professionals. We put a lot of time in, in the film room, studying the playbook together. As long as we're out there communicating, executing the proper technique, I think it's going to happen very fast.
"I know there's still a lot of work to be done. Our goal is to win the Super Bowl, so we're far from that right now but we're willing to put the work in every single day to get there."