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O-Line Is A Huge Concern


Reid Not Worried, But He Should Be

By Lance Epstein

Any team in the NFL expecting to win a good amount of games must dominate the battle in the trenches. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Eagles, the offensive line did not have a chance to gel into the unit they thought they would be last season. Furthermore, this lead to inconsistency from game to game in winning those turfs wars.

Even worse, the Eagles do not appear to have the same problem again this year. The very first day the Eagles arrived at training camp, head coach Andy Reid informed everyone that not one, but two starters were going to begin camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).

Of course, center Jamaal Jackson was expected to be on the PUP list considering he tore his ACL with just two weeks left in the 2009 season. However, the biggest surprise to come out of Reid's introductory press conference was starting left tackle Todd Herremans being on there.

Although Reid did not sound too concerned while talking about the injured foot of Herremans.

"I want to see how he’s doing before we take him off the PUP," Reid said. "We’ll gradually bring him back. I don’t want him to jump in and hurt himself again, so I want to take it nice and slow here. We’ve got a little bit of time.

“Right now, it’s really not bothering him. I want to see it. He’s had time off here and he’s been working with (head athletic trainer) Rick (Burkholder), but I want to see myself, and I want to take it nice and easy here and make sure we go by doing this the right way.”

While Reid might not be too worried, Eagles fans are extremely nervous about a patchwork offensive line. If that was not bad enough to be missing two starters, fans are also frightened about idea of Stacy Andrews being a declared the starter. Andrews is a player who should have been up for the 2009 award of biggest free agent bust and not someone who should be counted on as a key component along the Eagles line. Yet again, Reid seems to be fully confident in Andrews even though he has not shown anything in an Eagle uniform.

"I'm very comfortable with Stacy right now," Reid said. "I think he'll be fine. I think he's healthy and strong and understands what we're asking. I'm not too worried about Stacy."

Maybe Reid is hoping (possibly reaching) that Andrews is fully recovered from his torn ACL that he sustain with the Cincinnati Bengals at the end of the 2008 season. Reid seems to believe that Andrews has regained full confidence in his surgically repaired leg, which means he is in store for a big season at the right guard.

"I think it was really just a matter of getting confidence in his leg and getting his strength back," Reid said on Andrews who arrives in camp tomorrow. "He's a big guy. The big guys -- especially at the guard spot -- have to make sure they can get themselves bent down there low. You're talking about a guy that's 6-foot-7. I think he's back to that position where he'll be very successful."

Without a doubt, Reid seems to be comfortable with his line even when it appears to be in shambles right now. The two most consistent offensive linemen last year are not able to even going to be on the practice field as full-contact practice begins on Saturday. Maybe Reid forgot that Andrews missed the final eight games in 2009 due to being ineffective on the field, but the fans have not.

This is definitely not what Eagles fans expected when they envisioned starting the Kevin Kolb era. Reid might be cool like the other side of the pillow on the situation, but he should be very concerned.

One reason is that Kolb is not Donovan McNabb. He does not possess the athleticism or have the experience to escape a surefire sack. McNabb strong base allowed the Eagles offensive line to endure injuries such as Herremans, Andrews and Jackson.

With Kolb, he does not have the same strength in his lower body as McNabb. Additionally, transitioning from an 11-year veteran to a quarterback with just two career starts under his belt is scary for a franchise anyway. It is even scarier when Max Jean-Gilles, Mike McGlynn and Nick Cole are a strong possibility to make up the interior of your offensive line.

The offensive line does not just affect Kolb's protection, but how he plays the entire game. Eventually he is going to start rushing passes if the pass protection gets him lit up like a human pinata. Some times quick passes work in a West Coast Offense, but other times it turns a player into David Carr. The hits begin to take its toll on a young quarterback, which leads to more and more interceptions.

Ultimately, it is not just Kolb who is on the short end of the stick by a decimated offensive line. LeSean McCoy will not see the running lanes to assist Kolb and make his life easier. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will not have enough time to work their magic down the field to create mismatches on their defenders. The team could be forced to ask receiving tight end Brent Celek to block, which is not his strength. This means that Celek's strength is eliminated and another playmaker is taken away from a potential potent offense.

Without a doubt, the Eagles do have time to heal up and get better. However in the back of Reid's mind there must be cause for concern. The Eagles were hoping to finally have a cohesive unit coming out of training camp, but now it might be another makeshift offensive line heading into week one against a Super Bowl contender in Green Bay.

2 comments:

  1. Way to over speculate!! Just relax and wait to see what happens. We could have everyone on the line healthy outside of Jackson come week 1, and even Jackson is healthier than I expected at this point.

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  2. I just wrote it based on what I hear and see. Having Herremans foot bother him since the end of may/beginning of June at the OTAs and not getting better is bothersome. It has been nearly two months and still bothering him especially since it is his surgically repaired foot too boot. As for Jackson, he is ahead of schedule but he is not going to be ready until week3/4 at the earliest. Also, it is going to take him some time to get back into game shape. Also Andrews is expected to start and has not proven anything yet. He could change that in practice and the preseason but there are question marks all over the line right now. It is ok to be calm right now but in two or three weeks it could be a giant concern.

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