Philly's O-Line May Make Or Break Their Season
By Scott Daniels
With all the focus on Chip Kelly this offseason, the Eagles disastrous 2012 campaign has basically been forgotten. The Eagles practically mailed it in midway through last season after Michael Vick checked out with injuries to every part of his body, and the Eagles had no shot with Nick Foles at the helm.
The Eagles had so many problems last year, it’s tough to pinpoint the worst part. The entire defense underperformed against the run and pass, and the offense was predicated around how effective Vick was. Sure, they had talent on the offensive side, but Vick never looked comfortable behind center because he never had time to operate. His make-shift line was made up of replacements. These guys were straight up manhandled; they gave up more sacks than Whole Foods. Vick took a ton of criticism for holding the ball too long when the reality was, he got no protection.
The 2013 Eagles boast not only a new, inventive head coach, but for the first time in a long time, they’ll have a talented, healthy offensive line that might be tops in the NFC East. Jason Peters is a beast — a veteran beast at that. Evan Mathis might have been the only bright spot on last year’s line, and Todd Herremans has been moved to right guard to make way for Lane Johnson, the new young buck in town. Finally, Jason Kelce returns to the center spot after a horrific knee injury in Week 2 last season.
Barring injury, this line is not an improvement from last season — it’s a total reincarnation. And while they should do a much better job protecting Vick, Kelly will play a pivotal role in making sure Vick is left untouched as well. Johnson, Peters, Mathis, Herremans and Kelce should give Vick ample to operate, but Kelly can protect him too with quick plays and less designed runs for Vick.
Last season, Vick’s injuries led to a wasted season. This season, Vick is healthy, but the quarterback position may be expendable in Kelly’s new offense. They’re expendable if the offensive line plays to its potential.