Last season three of the Eagles starting offensive line suffered a season-ending injury. This made the pocket non-existent for Michael Vick and led him to getting beat up more than he would while he runs the ball aggressively down field.
At the beginning of the year, much praise was given to the Eagles organization for the rebuilding of this line. Peters, Herremans and Kelce were healthy. We gained an athletic right tackle in Lane Johnson via a first round draft pick. What more could you ask for?
The answer: For Michael Vick to be less pressured.
Vick was pressured a total of 48 times in the first three games and it didn’t much improve last week against the Broncos. The Eagles quarterback was forced to scramble six times and was sacked 3 times for a loss of 13 yards.
This needs to improve so the Eagle offense can function at the capacity Chip Kelly wants and expects. As we have seen, Vick doesn’t always make the best decisions when the heat is on and he won’t survive if he keeps on getting hit. Opposing teams are more than aware of Vick’s decision making ability. So he needs to be protected better considering the Eagles know defenses are gunning for him.
This being said, the wide receivers need to get separation quicker so that Vick can fire away. Vick has been reluctant to throw at times, but the more time Vick has in the pocket, the more nervous he gets. Instead of waiting around to get hit, he just resorts to his legs and takes off down field.
He has already been sacked 14 times this year, which is tied for third most with Eli Manning and Geno Smith. Only Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill have been sacked more times with 15 and 18 respectively.
Luckily for the Eagles, they will be facing the Giants who have lacked a pass rush thus far this year. They are only averaging a sack a game through Week 4 and a lot of their defensive unit is dealing with injuries. There are five defensive linemen and two linebackers currently listed on the injury report.
Jason Pierre-Paul is one of those names listed out with knee injury, but he did practice this Wednesday. If he is unable to play in Week 5, this will make the offensive lineman’s task even easier. They will be able to find a rhythm that they have lacked the past two weeks and Vick will get the time he needs to make good decisions in the pocket.
All in all, I expect a better performance out of the Eagles offensive line this week against the Giants. Not just because they need to play better, but because the competition should be weak enough to accentuate the talent the Eagles have in their front seven.