Right guard Brandon Brooks comes into 2018 as an established veteran after starting all 19 regular-season and playoff games in the 2017 Super Bowl run. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod in his sixth professional year last season and is now aiming to be named an All-Pro. Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland called Brooks the "best in the business" at his position and doesn't believe he gets the recognition he deserves. But Brooks isn't looking for recognition. This year, he wants to serve as a mentor and better leader on the offensive line while still learning and improving himself.
Hoe helpful is it for the offensive line to have the chemistry and cohesiveness that comes from playing together for a while?
"We've played together now for two years, being able to keep the group together over these last couple of years has been great. I don't think it takes as long for our camaraderie say we come off a vacation or the offseason going into OTAs. I don't think it takes as long as other teams with new guys coming in and out."
Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland said you are the best guard in the league. Why do you think that is?
"I credit that to two things: One, Jeff Stoutland. I'm easily willing to say he's the best O-line coach in the league, best O-line coach I've ever had. He's a tremendous person, tremendous teacher." "Secondly, I have to give props to JP (Jason Peters) and Lane (Johnson). So obviously, JP is a little older now, but when he was younger, he used to just dance at the line with guys, man. And same thing with Lane. It's one thing to go out here when you're an individual and work something out, it's another thing to actually take it to the team knowing there's a possibility of failure and still trying to work it anyway. So that's something this year that I really tried to implement into my game where maybe it's the first time I'm trying something or I may try to do something different here, but the main thing is I'm trying, trying to do it, trying to perfect it, so even if something happens, I don't look at it as discouragement, I look at it as opportunity and something to learn from."
How much confidence does Coach Stoutland's praise give you going into a season in which you have such lofty goals?
"My thing is, those dudes have my back man, ride or die man, knowing that in the darker of situations, like two years ago with my anxiety, going through that, at the end of the day, Stout was in my corner through thick and thin, even to the point where he was like, 'I'm not even concerned with this football stuff right now. I'm concerned for you as a person.' You don't get that everyday, man. So that why I say for me, I'd run through a wall for any one of these coaches because at the end of the day, we're a family. It's all love here, everyone has each other's back. There's nobody who's bigger than the team even though you've got big-name guys, Carson Wentz, Alshon (Jeffery), Jay Train (Jay Ajayi), with all those dudes. It's all here and that's one of the best things about playing for this team."
Jordan Mailata said after the first preseason game, "In Stout We Trust." Is that a motto for the O-line?
"It was his saying but, what a great saying. That's exactly the case. It's always, 'In Stout We Trust,' man. Through thick and thin, Stout always has our back, Stout's always looking out for our best interests, and because of the type of person he is, we're willing to run through a wall for that guy."
Do you think you've gotten enough recognition for being at the top of the league in your position?
"I feel like there's a debate when it comes to that. I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest social media guy, I'm not the biggest household name type of guy. I think the fans, the coaches, and players around the league know that I'm a good player, so that's just kind of how I look at it. I'm not a big flash, rah-rah guy, so it's all good."
What are your individual goals for this season and for the entire O-line?
"Personally, I obviously won the Super Bowl last year, went to the Pro Bowl, but there's one thing I didn't get. I didn't go All-Pro. So, that's one thing I strive and want to work toward. And as a team, it's to repeat. That's what playing this sport is all about besides hanging with the guys and having fun and all that. But again, I can't describe what it was like to win it all and be on top."
What did you do over the offseason to improve?
"Moved. Moved across the bridge man, across the river to South Jersey. Getting used to Suburbia. I was in the heart of downtown and it was time for a change."
How do you like South Jersey?
"It's good, man. It's quiet. The neighbors are peaceful. The only thing new for me is you have to go right to turn left, which threw me off, and you can't pump gasoline by yourself, but you can pump diesel by yourself. I did not know that. So, I pulled up to a diesel pump and was just sitting there like 10 minutes later like, 'Hey are you going to help me,' and the guy looked at me like, "Dude, it's diesel. What are you doing?"
You've spent extra time with Matt Pryor after practice. You talked about JP and Lane influencing you, when did you decide to be a mentor yourself?
"Honestly, this year man. Honestly, man, I look at Pryor like a young me. He's a big dude, long arms, can play guard or tackle, smart guy who can get up and down the field, pretty athletic, but, you know, as with anything new you have to fine tune it a bit. I had guys that took me under their wing like, 'Here's how you have to do it.' And I'm just trying to cut the learning curve a little bit because through trial and error. There are things that I've learned thing that I've had to learn the hard way. And I'm just trying to help him out, and trying to make him as successful as he can be."
How beneficial is it to have so many veteran leaders on the O-line?
"It's tremendous because a lot of times it's not just the message but the messenger itself. A lot of times. Stout's coaching, Stout's telling you stuff, and we have a lot of respect for Stout, but also when you have a dude like JP to tell you that Stout's right, a dude who has done it, who has all the accolades, who will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, to back that up, young guys are like, 'Wow, Stout's right on the button with that.'"