The Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line faces arguably its biggest test of the season as they travel to Washington to take on the Redskins in a week six matchup.
Despite a bundle of criticism this season, the Eagles have allowed only seven sacks all season. They’ve also done a good job protecting quarterback Michael Vick. Vick hasn’t missed a game yet this season and his injuries (concussion and badly bruised left hand) were not the fault of the offensive line.
Yet the offensive line is in turmoil heading into a week six matchup against the Washington Redskins.
For starters, left tackle Jason Peters is still injured. He will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
King Dunlap started for Peters last week and was set to start this week until he injured his back in practice this week. He’ll likely be ruled out.
That means the Eagles will take Todd Herremans, who opened training camp at left guard and has played right tackle this season, and move him to left tackle, where he started one in 2009 and four times in 2005.
Winston Justice will make his season debut at right tackle. He underwent surgery to have a large bone chip removed from his left knee in February and was placed on the PUP list at the start of training camp. He started last week against Buffalo but did not play. Barring an extremely quick (and unlikely) recovery by Dunlap, Justice will be the blindside blocker for Michael Vick on Sunday.
The rest of the line will remain the same as last week: Evan Mathis at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, and Danny Watkins at right guard.
Mathis has been the Eagles’ best offensive lineman this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Kelce has struggled but there has been no word of him relinquishing his starting role to veteran Jamaal Jackson, who opened training camp as the starter. And Watkins was benched before the start of the season, and made his NFL debut last week. He played well, minus an extremely costly hands to the face penalty that cost the Eagles a big touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles’ makeshift offensive line will go up against the Redskins’ front seven, which has accumulated 14 sacks in four games this season. Linebacker Brian Orakpo leads the team with 3.5 sacks, while defensive ends Adam Carriker (3) and Stephen Bowen (2.5) have also been disruptive.
As much as I absolutely hate to say it, I personally have already written the Eagles off in the 2011 season, but if you believe that they do have a chance, they need to win this Sunday to save their season.