Philadelphia Eagles: Why did the offensive line struggle more last season?

Jason Kelce #62, Lane Johnson #65, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jason Kelce #62, Lane Johnson #65, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line didn’t emulate their 2017 dominance. What was the cause of that?

During the 2017 Super Bowl run, not a lot of things went the Philadelphia Eagles way, believe it or not. Injuries piled on top of each other, and they hit at some of the most critical positions. However, the ‘next man up’ mentality was in full effect, and the Birds ended up bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Philly anyway. There were a lot of reasons why the Eagles were able to attain that high level of success, but one unit on the team made it clear they were among the NFL’s best.

The offensive line was purely dominant in 2017. Top three, if you will. Even with Jason Peters missing a large chunk of the run, he was avenged well with Halapoulivaati Vaitai. That specific Super Bowl run made it clear the Eagles were in good shape in the trenches for beyond that year. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the same protection in 2018 as we did in 2017. Was that Super Bowl run all a fluke for the offensive line? Or was there a real factor affecting the 2018 unit?

As it turns out, the Eagles were quite injured up front in 2018. That long postseason run, which many of the Eagles were not used to really took a toll on some of their key guys, and they were pretty banged up in 2018. We knew of some injuries already, as they were made public last season — but as the 2019 offseason unfolds, we continue to find out about additional issues from the guys up front.

Who was dealing with what?

First of all, Jason Peters was struggling to stay on the field, as we all know. He returned last season from an ACL tear and quickly had a breakdown on his upper-body. Early on, Peters was diagnosed with torn biceps, an injury which could typically end a players’ season.

Not Peters though, he played in pretty much all 16 games, but he did leave one early for concussion symptoms. While Peters actually played pretty decent for the second half of the season, it was clear that his injuries were beginning to slow him down a bit.

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Beside Peters was an uncertainty. The year started off with Stefen Wisniewski in the mix, but a behind-the-scenes controversy forced the Eagles to throw Isaac Seumalo at left guard. Ironically enough, Seumalo was benched for Wiz the previous year, but that was because of poor play. This time, the tables were turned but for reasons that remain unknown.

At the center was Jason Kelce who had an All-Pro season — but don’t think we got his best effort. As it turns out, Kelce had a laundry list of injuries last year. An MCL sprain, a broken foot, a torn elbow, and surprisingly more. Despite playing a solid year, Kelce was battling with himself due to the ton of injuries he had to deal with. Brandon Brooks stayed healthy for the most part. Up until the divisional matchup against the New Orleans Saints where he tore his Achilles.

Last but not least, we recently found out that Lane Johnson was holding in some pain as well. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Lane Johnson has recently revealed that he was battling through an MCL sprain as well as a high-ankle sprain. We’ve heard whispers about the ankle issue, but the Eagles barely touched on it. And come to find out, Johnson barely practiced last year.

What to expect for next season

The Eagles went two weeks into the postseason last year, but they didn’t have to play until February this time around. While the loss in New Orleans was a bit heartbreaking, at least we know the Eagles had more than enough time to get rested and healed up. A healthy season for all is far from a guarantee, but at least the big men in the trenches are feeling good right now.

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They were absolutely critical to the Super Bowl run, and the Eagles offense has the potential to emulate that success all over again in 2019. But first, it’s going to start with the guys succeeding up front, and keeping their injury-riddled quarterback healthy. If they can do that, the sky is the limit for next year’s Philadelphia Eagles offense.