Entering the 2021 season, one of the widely accepted strengths of this Eagles team was in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The offensive and defensive lines had a mix of both veteran leadership and young, intriguing talent as depth pieces. The injuries sustained up front will put that depth to the test, to be certain, but that does not change the fact that line play will be integral for the Eagles as they move forward this season.
In Sunday's loss against San Francisco, there were missed opportunities abound on both sides of the ball. Whether it was explosive pass plays that didn't connect on offense or turnovers that weren't completed on defense, everyone knows that there is plenty to correct heading into the Round 3 showdown in Dallas. A lot can be learned by looking through the microscope into the trenches to see how the lines performed on both sides of the ball.
Let's begin with Javon Hargrave, who once again proved that the guy we saw this summer was no fluke. He's carried his dominant play from the practice field to Sundays. Whether it's against the run or against the pass, No. 97 has been a force.
On passing downs, in particular, it's important to note that Hargrave sees a lot of one-on-one matchups. Why? Because offenses are still sliding the protection to Fletcher Cox more often than not, and rightfully so. Cox is still one of the best in the business as an interior disruptor, and he showed that again on Sunday.
It's hard to imagine that a team has a better duo inside than the Eagles. It's something that will continue to give opposing offenses fits moving forward. You can't double team both of those guys on the interior. One will almost always be left one-on-one on passing downs.
Josh Sweat had a couple of impactful rushes affecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in this game. Derek Barnett provided some juice off the edge as well. One guy who flashed a couple of times, however? Rookie Milton Williams.
Williams' versatility stands out, and with the injury to Graham that will be brought even more into focus, but you can't help but see the toughness and the effort that he displays on film. Williams is always going 100 miles an hour. He lines up anywhere from nose tackle out to defensive end. He gets penetration quickly and is able to change the line of scrimmage on contact. He has really flashed a handful of times over the first two games to start his NFL career.
Let's go to the offensive side, where the big matchup going into the game pitted Jordan Mailata against Nick Bosa. We talked about it last week on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast, and this battle went about as we expected – both guys had their share of wins. Bosa is a great player. He's not going to get shut out, but Mailata battled and had a ton of blocks when left one-on-one with the star rusher without any help.
Mailata also stood out in the run game, where he is able to get consistent movement at the point of attack, especially when working in tandem with guard Isaac Seumalo. Mailata is a powerful lineman and a rare physical specimen, and that shows up on a weekly basis.
The Eagles are strong in the trenches, and that will give them the ability to win every game this season. It's a big reason why they went toe-to-toe with the 49ers on Sunday.
For a full look at my takeaways after watching the film, be sure to watch the All-22 Review on PhiladelphiaEagles.com or on the Eagles' official YouTube page!