When the season started, analysis of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ offensive line dictated they would be the strength of the team. After a brutal season last year, all starters would finally be back and healthy. Chip Kelly would have a full assortment of quality players, anchored by Jason Peters and Lane Johnson on the corners.
This group would be the highlight of the team. Kelly hired Jeff Stoutland as his coach, picking up a guy who generated an assortment of quality college players. Things were looking up.
We know after five games that this assessment was way off the mark.
The line has been a weakness so far and now, with Michael Vick injured, they must come together to back a less mobile Nick Foles. Last week we saw a break down severe enough to limit the league’s leading running back in LeSean McCoy.
Jason Kelce was beaten repeatedly in the middle. Johnson is still showing the rookie growing pains. Peters, even with his finger injury, has not played to his usual form. Todd Herremans has had well-documented struggles this season. This leaves Evan Mathis as the only steady one in the group.
On Sunday, the Eagles will face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that presents a greater challenge than last week.
The secondary should match up well with Darrelle Revis and DeSean Jackson in a prime battle on the outside. Having Foles as quarterback will be a double-edged sword on Sunday. He makes quicker decisions than Vick and throws a better timing pattern. Kelly has said he will not be changing up the offense but, as a key part of the read-option is the threat of a quarterback run, he’s going to have to adjust something. Foles does not threaten anyone with his speed.
If the line struggles on Sunday, Matt Barkley had better get ready as Foles won’t survive the beating. If they can come together, look for him to have a good day and pull out a win in Tampa.
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