The Eagles have a huge problem on the offensive line that nobody is talking about

USATSI_11324958_168382939_lowres

The Eagles have plenty of questions to answer ahead of a monumentally important game against the Minnesota Vikings and while the priority list to the untrained eye will focus on positions of need, the never-ending injury crisis and individual efforts, there’s a much bigger problem that needs addressing. 

We’ve become accustomed to associating the Eagles with discipline and execution. That could not be further from the truth this year, with referees raining flags down onto the defending Super Bowl champions throughout the opening four games of the season. To tie in with another area of concern, the offensive line, the Eagles have the most offensive holding penalties (9) of any team in the NFL. 

For context, they had 15 holding calls go against them during the ENTIRE 2016 campaign and 26 during last year’s, but that is of course including 3 more games. The Eagles have lost 85 yards due to these calls alone and against the Titans, they were more prominent than ever.

An inability to sustain drives hurt the Eagles on first down, third down and of course down inside the red zone. The offensive line was being overwhelmed by a Tennessee defense that insisted on shaking things up consistently and bringing different looks to the Castle that Doug Pederson built.

Not only did the O-line give up 11 quarterback hits and 2 sacks on their quarterback who is only 2 weeks medically cleared after rehabbing a torn ACL/MCL, but their sense of frustration and panic is showing vividly as they continue to rack up calls that set the offense back.The 34 quarterback hits are the 2nd most in the NFL, somehow that’s even more than a pitiful Colts offensive line. This is not what you expect to see from a mean, green line that has forcibly earned the reputation as the best in Football.

 

GET FREE SHIPPING ON THE OFFICIAL ‘SALUTE TO SERVICE’ EAGLES GEAR BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK!

“We certainly want to keep him upright, that’s for sure.” Mike Groh said. “We don’t like seeing him pick himself up off the ground. We’ve got to do a better job of that. All of us have got to be conscious of that, and it starts with us as coaches and making sure we put a plan together to keep him clean.”

The misfiring offensively is something that doesn’t need reiterating to Doug Pederson, however.

“Our understanding that for us to play like champions, first of all, we have to understand that we are champions, and you have to play, you’re expected to play a certain way.” The Eagles Head Coach told reporters on Monday. “Coaches and players here in Philadelphia with the Eagles, and it is my expectation. When you don’t live up to that expectation, we need to just zero down on it and figure out why. The sense of urgency from players and coaches needs to heighten just a little bit. It’s not a panic mode, but it’s a heightened awareness of who we are as a football team, where we want to get to and we have to eliminate these penalties because they’re coming at the wrong time and turnovers are coming at the wrong time. Really there’s no good time for any of them, but that’s just what’s happening. We just have to keep coaching them.” 

It’s not like the run-blocking is a problem. We’ve seen Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce simply embarrass opposing linemen this season and sustain blocks at the second level with ease when carving lanes open. We’ve seen the tight ends chip in with some impressive technique and we’ve even examined the athleticism across the front that remains unparalleled. This is not a talent issue, but it’s an issue nonetheless and a very big one.

Cleaning up the miscues on the offensive front has to be a priority for Pederson and the Eagles coaching staff. Whether it’s the sheer amount of pressures faced by Carson Wentz or the scrappy measures taken to prevent them that ends in an absurd amount of flags, this has to be fixed.

Vikings, Panthers, Cowboys, Giants. That’s not the friendliest of quarters to be facing when the offensive line is struggling more than it has in recent memory. This isn’t a problem the Eagles can wait until the offseason to fix, nor is it one that needs personnel changes. The Eagles have one of the most talented lines in football and have proven that consistently since Pederson’s arrival, highlighting a vision by Howie Roseman to build from the ball out. Whether it’s a lack of discipline, a schematic problem or simply the rigors of a Super Bowl winning season taking its toll on the brutish bodies up front, if it’s not fixed soon, their greatest strength could soon become their biggest weakness.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites