Has King Dunlap Already Won the Left Tackle Job?
Demetress Bell's reaction to learning that he wasn't going to start wasn't one you might expect.
“He kind of knew beforehand that we were going to work King in there [and] that it was coming down to he and King. There was a little bit of that done before the move happened.”
Safe to say Reid let down Bell easy.
Coach Reid and the Eagles thought they had their starting left tackle when they gave a five-year, $35 million contract to Bell, that is essentially a one-year, $3.25 million deal, and includes an $8.5 million 2013 roster bonus.
The Eagles said Bell would have to beat out Dunlap for left-tackle duties after signing the deal in April, and they're putting their money where their mouth is. Coach Reid had stated that King Dunlap would get a chance to start when he resigned here March 30, even though the clear intention was that they signed Bell to replace the injured Jason Peters.
However, Reid is in fact putting his money where his mouth is by giving King his promised chance to start - like he told Dunlap back in April.
“Just a scheduled switch. Like I said, King’s been with us a while and he deserves that opportunity. Demetress has done a good job. He’s worked hard, so he’s doing fine. But I just want to make sure; I want to make sure everybody has their shot there.”
So what areas will Bell need to improve on to win the spot on September 9 against the Browns.
“Just continue to progress. Just continue to progress and he’ll do that with reps. He’s going to get plenty of reps and everybody needs that. Right now, everybody needs that. We need to get better.”
Reid says he thinks that Bell will take the time on the second team as a challenge.
“I think, naturally, you do that. Just naturally, you don’t want anybody being on the ones. You want to be the guy on the ones. But, on the other hand, it’s fair to King to do that. He came back here under the assumption that he’d have an opportunity to compete and he’s done well, so he’ll get an opportunity. There’s not a lot of separation between those guys right at this minute, so King deserves that opportunity.”
Naming Dunlap over Bell for Monday's preseason game against the Patriots is another example that Reid is sticking to his guns. Reid made the decision to let Dunlap have a fair opportunity to start and that's exactly what he is doing so far, allowing Dunlap to start in what was considered the most important preseason game.
Dunlap will also remain with the ones on Friday against the Browns.
“King will work with the first unit," Reid said. "[Dunlap and T Demetress Bell] are still very close. I’m [going to] try to give them equal opportunities. It’s competition, but King will be with the first group.”
So is Reid just being true to his word by giving Dunlap a chance to start or has Dunlap already the job against Bell?
The fact the Dunlap appears to have the position won is a surprise after the Eagles initially tabbed Bell as Jason Peters' replacement, paying Bell a large sum of money. However, Bell has struggled mightily against odd-man fronts.
So from here it looks like Dunlap has beaten Bell out for starting left tackle position - but don't be surprised if Bell takes over at some point during the season. Think Kyle DeVan starting over Danny Watkins last season. DeVan knew the system, Watkins didn't, so DeVan started the season until he wasn't good enough and Watkins knew what he was doing.
Right now Dunlap knows the system, Bell is having problems, so when Dunlap isn't good enough and Bell gets it, Bell will take over at left tackle - until then King Dunlap looks like your starting left tackle.
Thankfully, Mike Vick is left-handed.