Sunday, June 21, 2009

On The Ground: Jason Brewer on the Eagles' tackles

In the last part of my interview series for this piece on left tackles at The Good Point, I present my full interview with Jason Brewer, who covers the Philadelphia Eagles for the excellent SB Nation blog Bleeding Green Nation. My previous interviews with KC Joyner and Bruce Raffel can be found here and here. Hope you've enjoyed this series!

Andrew Bucholtz: What do you see the left tackle's role as in today's NFL: mostly pass protection, mostly run-blocking or a combination of the two? How would you evaluate a left tackle's importance as compared to the rest of the offensive linemen? Also, do you think this role's changed over the last decade, and if so, how so?

Jason Brewer: I think that's entirely dependent on the team he's on. We all know that some teams, like the Eagles, pass more than others. However, I would say that primarily the role of a LT is be a great pass protector. The biggest reason the guy playing on the left is more important than the guy on the right is that he's protecting the blind side of a right-handed QB. So the ability to pass block is that much more important for a LT than most other positions along the line, whereas the ability to run block is no more important for a LT specifically than any of the other OL positions.

A.B.: In your mind, how important is it for a team to have a good left tackle? Can you win without one?

J.B.: I think it's just about imperative to have a good LT on a winning team. Any time an opposing team can pressure the passer, the likelihood of turnovers goes up. When a team can pressure the passer from his blindside, turnovers are even more likely. We all know that moment that makes you cringe... When your QB is looking downfield, you can plainly see that DE coming unblocked at his blind side, and he doesn't know the guy is there. How many times that does end up in a strip sack or the QB getting hammered and fumbling? Often. So having a guy that prevent a game changing turnover like that with consistency is incredibly important.

A.B.: Are left tackles worth the amount of money they're paid?

J.B.: That's an interesting question. Actually, the gap between what elite LTs make and what other guys along the line make is getting a little smaller. We've seen guards get some big paydays in recent years, but the LTs are still making the mind-boggling bucks. I guess if you've spent $100 million on a franchise QB, it's worth it to spend around half that to make sure his back side is protected.

A.B.: What are the most important characteristics for a good left tackle in your mind?

J.B.: Probably footwork. These guys are facing the elite pass rusher on the opposing team week in and week out. They face bigger 4-3 DEs and speedy 3-4 OLBs. Only the ability to move your feet and adjust your center of gravity quickly is going to give you a chance to block those guys consistently.

A.B: If you were appointed as the GM of an NFL expansion franchise and had to create a roster from scratch via an expansion draft, a regular draft and free agency, where would acquiring a left tackle fit in your priorities? Would you try and grab him through one of the drafts or through free agency?

J.B.: I'd probably rank LT as my #3 priority. Franchise QB comes first, then an elite pass rusher, then the LT. I guess I'd probably rather draft one than spend the $60 or $70 mil needed to sign one on the free agent market.

A.B. Your posts I've seen on the Jason Peters trade seem fairly positive. What do you think he'll bring to the Eagles? Will he be worth all the picks the team gave up?

J.B.: Well, the amount of picks is really not all that great. There was a late first, a 4th, and then, I believe, a sixth-rounder in 2010. For a two-time Pro Bowl LT who's only 27, that's fairly cheap in my opinion. It's far less than the Eagles would probably have had to give up in order to move up in the draft for one of the two "elite" LT prospects.

I'm optimistic about Peters. He has the athleticism to do the kind of things the Eagles ask of their offensive linemen. I think now that he's properly motivated and got the money he was after, he should return to that devastating form of 2007 that made the league sit up and take notice of him.

Thanks to Jason for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out his blog here!

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