Did lack of preseason experience hurt Eagles offensive line in week one?

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The Eagles were able to come away with a huge win on Sunday, but it wasn’t all pretty. A shocking injury to Ronald Darby aside, the team suffered largely at the hands of the Redskins front seven. Carson Wentz fell victim to plenty of pressure in the team’s opening day win and while he may have only been sacked twice, he was hit eight times and forced to scramble early and often.

The run-game, as we all know was less than impressive. LeGarrette Blount ended his day with 46 yards on 14 carries and a receiving touchdown. It was his quietest game since the Patriots late-season win over Denver last year and only the third time since the start of 2016 that he’s rushed for less than 50-yards. Sproles and Smallwood rushed four times each for a combined total of ten yards. Whether it was down to the offensive line, some poor balancing of the offense or a simple lack of production, the running backs were anything but efficient against Washington.

A strong offensive line is integral to a successful offseason and the Eagles may have one of the strongest in the league, leaving many to wonder why they didn’t produce? One very overlooked reason may lie in preseason.

The starting unit rarely played together throughout the four-game period, with the Eagles instead deciding to work out who will fill the depth positions. No more Barbre, no more Tobin. The Eagles went younger and more versatile along the offensive front, but with a lack of experience comes a lack of chemistry. If the starting unit are only playing in a couple of series at most each game, there’s only so much of a bond they can build.

“You go through the preseason, your starters don’t play a ton.” Offensive coordinator Frank Reich explained. “You start to work together in the game and each week you’re grinding it out and getting better. You just like it when you have enough talent and when you play good enough where you can win on the road against a division opponent and still have a lot of things to work on.”

With Jason Peters missing the entire preseason and Isaac Seumalo being pushed up to the starting left guard role, the offensive line certainly felt a momentum shift during the offseason. Seumalo and Kelce allowed a sack due to miscommunication and the former Oregon State lineman’s first start at LG was anything but smooth.

To make matters worse, Peters exited the game in the second quarter with a groin injury that sent Halapoulivaati Vaitai into a game against an opponent that gave him nightmares in his NFL debut last year. The line wobbled, struggled and rocked side-to-side but eventually the storm passed.

Attention now turns to Kansas City. A Defense that forced 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, and 3 QB hits against arguably the most dangerous Offense and quarterback in the league. That isn’t lost on Frank Reich, who explained to the media just how important progress is between week one and week two.

“You know, I didn’t think anybody up front — I didn’t think any of our players had a poor game. I think we all looked at it and said, ‘You know what, what we talked about today was we were far from perfect but as a group, as a unit, as a team, we have enough talent’ — it’s nice to be able to have enough talent to know that you don’t have to be perfect and still win.”

“Sometimes you’re on a team where it feels like everything has to be perfect just to have a chance to win, and I feel like that’s not the case this year. I think we’re in a good position. I think our players have a lot of confidence in each other. I think our players have a lot of confidence in what we’re doing. So as a unit, that’s kind of how I saw this game; we all can get better. We all learn from this, and this is the first one. Just glad we got out of there with the W and we are going to have to be better this week against Kansas City on the road.”

The Eagles Offensive front struggled against Washington, and whether it was a lack of preseason experience for the starters or not, they simply have to get better if they are to contain an angry Chiefs Defense and the return of Bennie Logan.

 

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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