It’s been a frantic off-season for the Eagles so far. From a Quarterback rollercoaster to some salary cap magic, we’ve just about seen everything. But as some things change, others remain the same. The concern regarding the strength of the Offensive Line is one of those things despite signing two new players..in fact, we may have even more questions now than we did after the Eagles explosive win in the final game of the season.
As things stand, the Line currently looks like this:
Jason Kelce C
Stefan Wisniewski C/G
Josh Andrews C
Barrett Jones C/G
Brandon Brooks G
Malcolm Bunche G
Allen Barbre G
Dennis Kelly G/T
Matt Tobin G/T
Jason Peters T
Lane Johnson T
Brett Boyko T
Andrew Gardner T/G
By taking one look at it, you can already see where the questions are coming from..the main one being where will Wisniewski fit if he’s going to become a starter? Jason Kelce had an extremely disappointing season at Center for the Eagles last season, but Wisniewski is surely too strong to be a backup? Not only that, but his experience at the position is limited. Kelce should retain his spot as a starting Center, but is adding a potential backup a good move for the Eagles?
If Wisniewski is going to start as a Guard for the Eagles, he has some stiff competition. After being forced into action last season, the rest of the Guards on the Eagles roster are in a great position to contend for a starting role. However a line of Brandon Brooks, Stefan Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson does sound very appealing and also very plausible.
So if that’s the direction the Eagles decide to head down..they’ve neglected one very important position that’s low on depth…the Tackle.
With Lane Johnson the evident heir to the throne that Jason Peters sits on, the birds should technically be looking to find a replacement for Johnson at Right Tackle in preparation for his move to the left hand side for when the reign of Peters ends.
In an ideal world, that situation is at least 12 months away, but with a degenerative injury continuing to cause problems for the 8 time Pro Bowler, the birds may need to find a solution sooner rather than later if they’re to avoid seeing history repeating itself.
Gardner is a worthy backup, but last season proved that despite some promising moments, that’s where he will most likely remain whilst Boyko is yet to prove his worth after spending a lot of time with the practice squad. If Johnson or Peters go down with injury at some stage during the season, the Eagles will be a man down and as it stands, either Boyko or Gardner would be called up to the front lines. Protecting the Quarterback from oncoming pressure through the trenches shouldn’t be too much of a concern with the addition of Brooks and Wisniewski..but in a worst case scenario, the pressure coming off of the edge may overwhelm the Tackles as it did last season.
The Eagles have signed two Guards so far this off-season and also retained the services of Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly. The pressure up the middle should no longer be a concern which is great..but the Eagles absorbed just as much pressure off the edge last season when Peters went down with injury and Johnson’s role continued to fluctuate. If Peters’ injury continues to haunt him then we could well be seeing a scenario we’re all too familiar with by now.
The birds were right to upgrade the Guard position, but as we head towards the Draft they are yet to address the astounding lack of depth at Tackle. It’s not so much a lack of talent as it is a lack of talent behind the talent. Johnson has earned his stripes in Philly and Peters is still capable of going toe-to-toe with the best in the business..but for how much longer? When Johnson eventually moves over to the left hand side, the Eagles are going to need a new starter on the right hand side and two backups who are more consistent than Andrew Gardner..that’s three players that could well be needed at some point during the upcoming season and the chances of the Eagles taking three Tackles in the draft are extremely slim when you consider the other holes that need addressing.
Sam Bradford absorbed a lot of outside hits and near misses last year as pressure continued to force even more holes in an already leaky roof. The Eagles have repaired a big hole in middle, but placed a bucket under the hole that’s allowing the most water through…the question is, do they need a new bucket or a new roof?