Being an offensive lineman in the NFL is as thankless and difficult of a job as any in professional sports. Every snap is an all-out battle for hand position, leverage, and pad level. It’s dirty, it’s chippy, and it is ignored by the average NFL viewer. The offensive line is likely the most important unit in relation to offesive success, yet it’s almost universally overlooked.
Brandon Brooks isn’t a house hold name. He won’t get many accolades, win any awards, or be the headline story on First Take for his week to week dominance. He’s not the charismatic, vocal leader that Jason Kelce is. He’s not the southern shit talking offensive tackle with a chip on his shoulder in Lane Johnson. He’s calm, cool, and relatively unknown. Don’t let that convince you he’s been anything short of incredible in his time here.
Brooks has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride of success and set backs in his 3, going on 4 seasons in midnight green. He endured a disappointing 2016 Eagles team that finished 7-9, while battling anxiety issues that caused him to miss 2 games and he was questioned by a portion of the fanbase. Starkly contrast, 2017 gave Brooks the highest of highs; He started all 19 games (including POs) on a top 5 offensive line, was a major part of bringing the home first Superbowl in Eagles history, and earned the first pro bowl selection of his career. The end of 2018 brought Brooks to the lowest of lows. He ruptured his achilles tendon in a 20-14 loss in the divisonal round of the playoffs at the hands of the Saints. His career in jeopardy, he fought, and rehabbed and pushed through everything asked of him, at an almost unprecedented pace. The fruits of his labors have bore delicious fruit in the form of stellar OL play this season.
Just over 8 months removed from a ruptured Achilles tendon, an injury as devastating as any for a man of his size, he returned in improbable fashion to start week 1 at RG vs Washington. Only 61.3% of NFL players return after this injury. Among those, the average return to play time was 11.9 months. The fact he was able to play so quickly is unbelievable, let alone his level of play. Even more encouraging, those who return and play 1 or more seasons after the rupture are likely to continue to play without any more games missed. In other words, tearing your achillies doesn’t seem to indicate a increased likelihood to miss more games to injury in the future.
Not only has he played all but 20 snaps since returning, he’s been a flat out unstoppable force at the guard position, being named to PFFs 1st quarter all-pro team. The Eagles offensive line has been one of the best units in football through 4 games; Their RG has been the best of the bunch, being named PFFs #1 guard thus far.
The 5 year-40 million dollar deal Brooks signed in 2016 has turned out to be a massive bargain. His contract is just the 14th largest deal for an OG in the NFL, although he’s been one of the top players at his position for the last 3 years. He’s only become a better player since signing with the Eagles in ’16, after spending his first four season in Houston. 2019 has solidified Brooks as one of best players on the OL in the game, regardless of position. Despite blossoming into arguably the best OG in football, there hasn’t been a whisper of a hold out, or dissatisfaction from the standout OG.
It’s tough to envision what this offense would look like without the incredible big man. He’s been the most consistent of any of the starters on the OL since he’s been here. He’s the epitomy of excellence, a true professional. This team is at its best when the OL is winning the battle in the trenches. They can count on #79 to win his battles, more often than not. Brandon Brooks will remain the somewhat anonymous, but unquestionably destructive force he has been for most of his career for the foreseeable future, no matter the physical or mental hurdles.