This might be a little harsh but I firmly believe the 2015 Eagles Offensive Line at it’s best point last season was average. The running game was never able to get going while injuries and poor play took their toll as well. It’s clear Chip Kelly had a different build of OL he was looking for. He wanted learner, more agile guys he could use for sweeps and pulls. Rarely does a center pull on Sundays. Jason Kelce was pulling a lot. More so than any other center in the league. Kelce was awful last season. He was one of the worst centers in the league. Multiple penalties per game to go along with what seemed like multiple bad snaps per game. I think a lot of this had to due with the poor guard play but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Is Kelce as bad as he played last year? I don’t believe so but I also don’t think he’s as good as we thought he could be.
This new Eagles Regime likes bigger guys, road graters and maulers. See new FA addition Brandon Brooks from the Texans. Brooks is 6’5″ 335. He will fill in nicely at the guard spot. The days of Andrew Gardner are over, at least I hope so. This will arguably be Lane Johnson’s last year at the right tackle. The Eagles aren’t moving on from him. He just signed a nice extension. Next year he will be at LT cementing his role as the next cornerstone of the OL. He’s moving to RT because Jason Peters just can’t hold up any more. Last year wasn’t his best year and he was often injured. It seemed like he was injured or being helped off the field every game. He was productive however 2016 will be his 13th NFL season and 7th with the Eagles. The future HOF’er admitted he will have to finish his career at guard. I believe he would be a great guard. The question is will it be here next year or somewhere else?
If the Eagles do have some injuries along the OL this year they are more equipped to handle them. One thing (among others) Chip Kelly was awful at was building and sustaining depth along the OL. After making his first selection in 2013 (Lane Johnson) the Eagles never selected another OL. Their depth was awful and continuously had shuffle guys around and play musical chairs. This off-season the Eagles added veteran Stefan Wisniewski. Formerly of the Raiders and Jaguars, Wisniewski is a solid pro and can step in if Allen Barbre gets hurt. Honestly I think he will ultimately challenge Barbre for the starting job and thus win it. To pair with the FA additions the Eagles have brought in a number of rookies and UDFA. Some young guys to keep an eye on are Malcolm Bunche, Issac Seumalo, Darrell Greene, Josh Andrews and Bruce Johnson. Out of this group it all starts with Greene and Seumalo. Greene slipped and wasn’t drafted due to off the field concerns. The Eagles slipped him a little something extra in his contract to obtain his services. He has great potential. The son of the defensive coach Seumalo could push for a starting job right out of the gate. He missed the first couple team practices because of NCAA rules so he has a late start. I expect him to make more of an impact during the second half of he up coming season.
Other players rounding out the position group include: Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly, Dillon Gordon, Big V and Brent Jones. I expect this group to be vastly improved from last season. I’m a firm believer in building teams inside out. NFL teams are only as strong as their core OL and DL allow them to be. The Eagles have the right building blocks in place.
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Episode 14 of the Eagles Focus podcast available by CLICKING HERE!