The Philadelphia Eagles have arguably the best Offensive Line in football. From the Left Tackle to the Right Tackle, the Eagles are very solid and tremendously athletic. But what about the players behind the starting group? All of the Eagles’ back up Linemen are inexperienced and either late round picks, or undrafted free agents. Last season, all five starters stayed healthy for the most part. The starting group played all sixteen games not including the playoffs, so the lack of depth was camouflaged. There’s a chance that wont happen again and with the age of the line, the lack of depth could be a real concern.
The main strength of the Eagles offense last year was the Offensive Line. The Eagles finished first in rushing yards this past season due in large part to the line. They were the main reason Running Back LeSean McCoy won the rushing title. The group often dominated opponents and created huge rushing lanes for backs to go through. They also kept Quarterback Nick Foles off the turf and played a huge role in Foles’ historic year. Left Tackle Jason Peters and Left Guard Evan Mathis earned Pro Bowl and All Pro honors for their outstanding play. This makes it that more critical to have back up players that can come in and not see a dramatic drop off. The Eagles currently own the second oldest Offensive Line in the NFL. With age comes injuries, it’s a part of the NFL. The only back up linemen that saw significant time was swing Tackle, Allen Barbre. He filled in for Jason Peters during the Green Bay game when Peters had to leave due to injury. Barbre played well in limited snaps. As for the other back ups, they were lucky to even sniff the field.
The Philadelphia Eagles know very well what an injury to a star linemen can do to a team. The team lost Jason Peters for the season due to an achilles injury during the 2012 offseason. That same season, Center Jason Kelce tore his ACL and MCL in week two. The teams success suffered mightly. Former Eagles Quarterback Mike Vick was running for his life that year. Defenders were in the back field constantly and killed any sort of deep passing game the team had. That year the team went 4-12, and prompted the Eagles to select Tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. The team has quickly turned it around and have turned into a contender, but they face the same problem as they did in 2012. If the Eagles were to lose one of the starters along the line it could be disaterous. The team has only one true Center in Jason Kelce, back up Julian Vandervelde plays both Guard and Center but has limited experince at that position. Second year Guard Matt Tobin was undrafted last year, the team gave him a chance and he made the team. The coaches like him, but as mentioed Tobin really has no experince playing against elite players in the NFL. The team signed numerous undrafted free agents this offseason, hoping they can find another player who can come in and contribute for the team. Still, the same problem pops up, none of these players have any experince verus top notch players. The team has to make sure they’re are doing everything in their power to help prevent and treat injuries. The Eagles can’t afford to lose one of its offensive line starters for an extended period of time. The season is depending on it.
The lack of depth isnt just an immediate problem, the future state of the offensive line is an even bigger concern. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Todd Hrrremans are gonna be over 32 years of age by seasons end. The team isn’t necessarily rushed to find replacements, but those guys aren’t going to get younger. Jason Kelce will man the Center spot for another decade, Lane Johnsom will kick over to Left Tackle when Peters retires, but what about the other spots? Sooner or later the team will have to spend money or use draft picks to find future successors. The Eagles can’t wait last minute to do this, the team can’t let this area of their offense become a weakness. The team needs future stars to replace the aging ones of today. The line will look immensely different five years from now. And hopefully the O-Line in the future can be just as great as the one today.
The Philadelphia Eagles need depth along the Offensive Line. The team can’t suffer another major injury (knock on wood). Not just in the short term, but in the long term as well. The stars along the line are aging and the Eagles need to find a solution to developing future starters. With training camp and the season quickly approaching, the lack of depth needs to be addressed. I have no doubt Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman will get it done.