How far is Landon Dickerson from last year when he starts practicing after missing all of training camp?”
Jeff Stotland accepted the request.
And for a second he just sat there staring into space. shut up Motionless.
Then he shouts out the answer.
“Light years! Not even close! Not even the same player!”
Then he paused again and pretended to be the eagle-eyed writer who asked the question (me).
“Why coach? What do you mean?”
There’s no one like Stowland, who could be the first Eagles coach in history to ask himself a question during a press conference.
Not only is he a character with his dry sense of humor, richly detailed stories and distinctive “dis and dat” Staten Island accent, he is also one of the greatest offensive line coaches in history.
He coached Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson and Evan Mathis to 13 Pro Bowls – none of whom had made a Pro Bowl before coaching at Stout – and his latest project is Dickerson, whose first opening day start is Sunday. The Eagles take on the Lions in Detroit.
Dickerson has become such a player for the Eagles at left guard that at this time last year, it’s easy to forget he wasn’t even a full practice squad.
Suffering a torn ACL in Alabama’s 2020 SEC Championship Game win over Atlanta Florida, he missed all of training camp and didn’t participate in a full practice until Sept. 15.
He was inactive for the opener, but he dressed in Week 2 against the 49ers and took over at right guard when Brandon Brooks’ season (and career) ended with a pec injury. He made his first start a week later against the Cowboys at right guard, but when left guard Isaac Seumalo suffered a season-ending foot injury, it opened the door for Dickerson to move to left guard.
Where it stays.
With a healthy Seumalo now at right guard, Dickerson has found a permanent home at left guard, and Stotland has some pretty high praise for the 23-year-old.
“I saw someone playing with a low hip, I saw him struggle a little bit to change direction from the injury (last year), (but) he’s not there yet,” he said. “I just saw a guy — you watch the Miami (practice collegiate) stuff, if you’re in practice — you can see how quickly he’s throwing his curveballs and how he’s turning his feet.
“For me, this is a different type of player. I’ll say – you didn’t ask me this, but if you asked me who the most improved player is, I’d say it’s him.
Stoutland’s praise for Dickerson is a good thing because Dickerson is hard on himself.
No matter how hard you try, you will never hear him admit that he played well.
“To say I’ve gotten somewhere is meaningless,” he said last year. “There is no point in being complacent. Because they will be satisfied. And they get complacent, they stop playing in the NFL. Always raise the bar.
He admits he has a long way to go and focuses only on his mistakes and shortcomings. Which ones are very difficult to find.
“All the great players I’ve coached feel that way,” Stoutland said. “I could give you an example of every guy I’m coaching right now (who has the same feeling). Something happened yesterday. The man was angry.
“But they are good players. They want it to be perfect, they want it to be great. When you know the answer to that, it’s okay to half-assed something or make a mental mistake.