Above all else, an offensive lineman’s job is to protect his quarterback. Sure, there is run-blocking and line calls and pulling and negotiating blitzes, but first and foremost, it’s about keeping the quarterback clean.
That is especially true for the tackle charged with protecting his quarterback’s blind side — typically a left tackle with the majority of NFL signal-callers slinging the pill with their right arms.
Philadelphia Eagles star left tackle Jason Peters knows this. He’s always known this. And on Sunday afternoon, he went above and beyond to defend his third-year quarterback.
For those of you who did not tune in to the NFC East battle between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins in the City of Brotherly Love Sunday afternoon, you missed one hell of a football game.
Of course, there was DeSean Jackson’s return after he was bewilderingly cut by Philadelphia following his finest season as a pro. DeSean’s homecoming so to speak started with a few early catches and trash talk and really took off when Jackson caught a game-tying 81-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins, backed into the end zone and did a little mocking of his former team.
Then there was the shootout between Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles, with both QBs firing the ball all over the field and piling up the numbers while also missing badly on some throws.
And of course you have the final outcome, the Eagles improving to 3-0 on the season with a third straight come-from-behind victory after a putrid start with the 37-34 win.
But the story of this contest was without question the way Jason Peters went out and took care of business for his quarterback. Not only did the six-time Pro Bowler do what he always does, dominating any and all defenders he was tasked with blocking, but he did one better.
With just over 10 minutes remaining and the game still tied, Nick Foles threw what looked to be an interception. On the ensuing return, Foles was blindsided by what can only be described as a blatant cheap shot by Washington defensive lineman Chris Baker. Foles remained on the Lincoln Financial Field turf writhing in pain. That’s when Jason Peters did exactly what he’s paid to do — protect and defend his quarterback.
Now, 100 times out of 100, Washington would take that trade. Both Baker and Peters were ejected for the melee that ensued, meaning the Eagles lost a player who is widely considered the best left tackle in pro football while the Skins lost Chris freakin Baker. That’s advantage Reskins.
Add to that the fact that the Eagles were already insanely thin on the offensive line heading into the game having lost Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis to injury in the opener and second-year right tackle Lane Johnson serving the third game of four-game suspension, and then got even thinner when center Jason Kelce suffered a sports hernia earlier in the contest, and this could have spelled disaster for the Eagles. Peters was perhaps the last player Philadelphia could reasonably afford to lose at that point in a tie game against a division foe. And yet, I was 100 percent OK with what Peters did. In fact, I’m much more disappointed in the fact that Peters was the only lineman who came to Foles’ defense. I mean, Dennis Kelly was right there and saw it and didn’t do a damn thing. Doesn’t he know he’s supposed to defend his QB … and that the Eagles would be in much better position losing him than losing Peters? Evidently not.
Either way, that takes nothing away from what Peters did. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, going right at Baker and standing up for Foles. As it turned out, that hit and subsequent reaction by Peters fired the Eagles offense up, Foles demanding his team to make it hurt when he regained his composure and after the apparent interception was overturned when it was determined the ball hit the ground. And that’s exactly what happened, with Foles showing more courage than I have seen a long time, standing in there behind Todd Herremans and four traffic cones, staring down the pressure, taking a beating and orchestrating the Eagles to yet another win.
Now, all of this could have been prevented had the officials made the right call in the first place, but making the right call was the exception rather than the rule in this one. It was a terribly officiated game on both sides, with the refs taking forever to make calls and throwing unnecessary flags while keeping the yellow cloths in their pockets on clear penalties. And it turns out their reliance on replay turned into a ruckus.
Still, none of that takes away from what Jason Peters did.
For his efforts, Peters has done nothing but add to his Philadelphia lore. Eagles fans — and close observers of the NFL — already knew how valuable Jason Peters really is. The man has one job above all others, and that is to protect his quarterback. Sunday afternoon, in a nasty clash between NFC East rivals, he showed once again that he’ll go to any lengths to protect Nick Foles.
It may have cost him 10 minutes of a close game, but it earned him even more respect than he already had among his fans and his teammates. And it was the spark that helped propel Philadelphia to keep its unbeaten streak to start the season intact.
Don’t fuck with Jason Peters … and definitely don’t fuck with Nick Foles when Jason Peters is on the field. Because he — and his teammates — will make you pay.