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End Of Season Offensive Line Review

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The Offensive line whom was dominate in 2013 was a bit disappointing in 2014.  They struggled all year to find cohesiveness as the same unit that opened up holes for LeSean McCoy to run for over 1600 yards and kept defenders within 5 yards of Nick Foles which allowed him to throw for 27 touchdowns never played together all season. They opened the season with right tackle Lane Johnson suspended for 4 games and then the line was decimated by injuries to everyone but left tackle Jason Peters. The injuries effected the running game to start the season as McCoy was unable to reach the 100 yard mark till the 6th game of the year and only four times all year. However, it was not the full story for the inconsistency in the running game as they would eventually get everyone back in the second half of the season besides right guard Todd Herremans but the inconsistency continued.  As pointed out in the post season review of Chip Kelly, defenses began to read and reacting so fast to the same running plays that it made it hard for the offensive line to even get out to the defender to block them.  In the play below, left guard Evan Mathis has to first chip on the tackle then get out to Seattle Seahawks Bobby Wagner (image 1) but because Wagner reads the play so fast he was able to make the play in the hole on the running back before Mathis got to him (image 2).

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Off Season moves….

The Eagles most likely will bring the starters back and Todd Herremans will return from his season ending injury to play his 11th season but they must get someone to replace Herremans after next season. They also have to add some quality depth on the offensive line because as we saw this year anyone can go down at any time. Outside of Andrew Gardner who came along late in the season, the backups like David Molk, Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly, and Wade Smith were borderline NFL caliber talent. Hopefully they guys that come in will be able to play in a year or two when some of the current starters will be at the end of the careers.

Jason Peters (LT)

Jason Peters was the only offensive lineman to play the entire season and as the saying goes “the best ability is availability”.  Jason Peters was selected to the Pro Bowl which could be argued that it was based on past recognition not this years performance. By no means did Jason Peters perform bad but he was not the dominate All Pro Peters we have seen for years. For the first time in Jason Peters 11 year career, he looked like he lost a step. He was great when matched up with a bigger lineman or a slower defender but struggled when he had to go against an outside linebacker or a quicker defensive end like Carlos Clemons. In the play below the outside linebacker of the Redskins gave him an initial speed rush move (image 1) but was fast enough to jump inside where Peters couldn’t get a hand on him to record the sack (image 2). Every player will come to this point in their career but the one thing that is not acceptable especially from your leader is mental errors. Peters was flagged for 11 penalties up from 4 in 2013.

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Evan Mathis (LG)

Evan Mathis only started 9 games this season. The 2013 All Pro was lost in the beginning of the season when he went down with an MCL sprain which kept him sidelined for 7 games. When he returned as expected, Mathis was an upgrade from the backups but did never quite looked like himself. He improved in his pass protection as the season went on (image 1)  but was inconsistent in run blocking. Look for Evan Mathis to bounce back next season.

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Jason Kelce (C)

Despite being hit by the injury bug this season when he was lost for 4 games with having sports hernia surgery, Jason Kelce still was voted to the Pro Bowl.  It was first reported that he was going to miss 2 months but the one thing that Kelce showed Philadelphia is his toughness as he returned early for the benefit of the team. The athletic center is asked to do a number of things from making pre snap calls for the offense, opening the hole for inside runs and pulling from the center position to the sideline on outside zone runs. He excelled in all areas in run blocking as well as in pass protection. Kelce has quickly made a name for himself around the NFL as one of the elite centers in the league.

In the play below against the dominate Seahawks defense, Kelce pancakes the defensive lineman to open a wide hole for LeSean McCoy (image 1). In the second play (images 2 and 3), Kelce does a great job of pulling from his center position to get to the sideline to pave the way for McCoy. These are the plays of a true pro bowl offensive lineman.

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Andrew Gardner (RG)

Andrew Gardner was more valuable than we ever thought he would be as he add to fill in and play left guard, right guard and right tackle this season as the Eagles offensive line was hit by injuries. Gardner came a long way and improved each week even though he was asked to move to a new position which seemed every game early on.  Early in the season he struggled in pass protection as he was beat easily (image 1) but as the season went on and he was locked in at right guard he performed well in pass protection as well as run blocking (image 2). He is the only backup that deserves to be back in 2015.

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Todd Herremans (RG)

This is the one position on the offensive line where the Eagles will have to make a decision at. Todd Herremans (32 yrs. old) the longest tenured Eagle in his 10th season got off to a shaky start before being sidelined for the year with a torn bicep. His base salary jumps from 3 million to 4 million in 2015 which is more than he is worth. If  Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly decide to bring Todd back, 2015 will be his last season in Philadelphia.

Lane Johnson (RT)

Lane Johnson was suspended the first 4 game of the season due to violating the NFL drug policy. At the end of the 2013 season Lane made it clear that he needed to get stronger to hold up in pass protection and he looked much improved this season. Outside of two games against the Packers and Washington, Johnson faired well.  Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan showed he still needs to continue to get stronger this offseason as he was able to bull rush him often into the quarterback. Lane was much improved in the run blocking as he did a good job of improving his foot quickness to allow him to get to the linebacker. Going into his third season, look for Lane to have a great complete season.

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UP NEXT: END OF SEASON REVIEW FOR WIDE RECEIVERS

 

 

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