As we know, the strength of the Philadelphia Eagles defense in 2021 will be their defensive front. Especially along the interior, where they have Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, with Milton Williams and Hassan Ridgeway coming off the bench.
Even the best offensive lines in the NFL will have trouble holding this Eagles front throughout 2021. Their Week 1 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, aren’t particularly strong up front, and one of their more dependable starters was just placed on injured reserve to start the season.
Starting left guard Josh Andrews will miss at least three weeks after being placed on IR with a broken hand. In his absence, rookie third-round pick Jalen Mayfield will be the likely starter. Mayfield had an impressive camp and earned his way to getting this opportunity. But it appears even his own head coach knows how difficult this first NFL matchup will be for the rookie.
Mayfield isn’t the only inexperienced interior offensive lineman for Atlanta either. Second-year center Matt Hennessy — a former Temple Owl — enters this season as the team’s starting center after only starting two games last season.
In the Falcons final preseason game, Mayfield played into the fourth quarter. Per Pro Football Focus, he got beat on numerous occasions and allowed 2 total pressures on 31 pass-blocking sets. This is against backups for the most part.
Mayfield will have his hands full going up against Cox in Week 1, there’s no doubt about that. Not mention the fact that when Cox is subbed out, Mayfield will have to deal with a fresh Milton Williams most likely. Like Arthur Smith said, “Everyone’s gotta get baptized at some point.”
If you’re looking for a clear advantage for the Eagles in Week 1, look no further. Jonathan Gannon’s defensive line should feast on Atlanta’s inexperienced front.
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