Last season the Eagles Offensive Line ranked extremely highly in the Pro Football Focus Rankings, but it almost didn’t end that way. Half way through the season, the line suffered a handful of injuries meaning guys like Matt Tobin and Andrew Gardner had to step up…but they didn’t. Luckily for them, the starters returned to relieve the pressure. This season, Gardner and an Offensive line without two of its former standouts are struggling and it’s costing the Eagles hugely.
We saw it last season with Nick Foles. Foles was given very little time on the ball and at times was forced to rush..something he evidently wasn’t comfortable in doing. Bradford was the teams leading rusher last night..which should not EVER be the case for so many reasons, but the root of the problem is the same. The protection being given to the Quarterback is so underwhelming that they are often left with no choice but to run. Bringing up the argument that the Eagles need a mobile Quarterback to succeed.This shouldn’t be the case and Quarterbacks should not have to be forced into scrambling to the extent where you become the teams rushing leader. When fixing a broken car, you don’t buy a better driver.
Where Bradford excels over Foles is his vision..something that was called into question last night. But Foles would let rip and pray somebody latches onto it following the collapse of a pocket. Bradford however takes time to examine the field before firing a laser that’s difficult to catch if it’s not 100% intended for the receiver. But the throwing isn’t the issue. It’s the Offensive Line.
We know Bradford can perform. Look at the pre-season game against the packers and the second half against Atlanta. Flashes of both games were prominent late on against the Cowboys. But another feature that was prominent was the lack of running game. DeMarco Murray was playing a vengeful game after being in minus territory for most of the game. Why is last years top running back being forced into such woeful performances? Because the Offensive line is being pushed around and beaten time after time. With an Offensive line that’s so easy to dominate, it’s almost impossible to run the ball out of the shotgun when the Quarterback is five yards behind the line of scrimmage. The running back has to then make up those five and gain positive yards whilst somehow pushing through holes that currently don’t exist. But time after time, they try the same plays and time after time they fail. With an Offensive line this weak, you cannot run the ball out of the shotgun.
Until the Eagles figure out how to run the ball with such weak protection, the Offense will remain stagnant. It’s unfair to blame Bradford after some easy drops and tricky situations..in fact I personally feel as though he handled everything well. If that was Foles, this game would have been dead and buried after the first half.
The Eagles have a franchise Quarterback in Sam Bradford. What they don’t have is an Offensive Line that can give him the time and protection he needs to execute in a way that very few Quarterbacks can. If something doesn’t change soon, then this season will be written off quicker than people think. If it’s not looked at and worked on, this team could easily slip to 0-3 against one of the leagues top Defenses.