Limited Options to Help Fix Eagles Offensive Line Issues
The Eagles aren't making any changes along an offensive line that unquestionably remains the team's biggest weakness – at least not yet.
Coach Chip Kelly indicated on Monday that there a not a lot of options, such as when he was asked whether the same five starters will remain in place after a mostly disastrous performance Monday night.
"There's not a bunch of O-linemen on the street," Kelly admitted. "Everybody is on their different teams at this point in time. So you hope JP [T Jason Peters] is healthy this week and he can go. If not, then we've got to go with what we got."
Philadelphia's offensive line is coming off another poor performance in the team's 23-20 loss in Washington. The issues were across the board. Shaky pass protection contributed had quarterback Sam Bradford under constant duress. The run-blocking wasn't much better as Philadelphia's running backs gained just 87 yards on 18 carries (one of which was a 30-yard run by DeMarco Murray).
None of those issues were new, of course, but they were expected to be as pronounced as they have been through four games as Philadelphia has dealt with the expected growing pains along an offensive line with some new faces. Left guard Allen Barbre and right guard Andrew Gardner are both first-year starters playing new positions. Gardner is already done for the season, meaning Matt Tobin is now starting at right guard. Barbre is also in a new spot, having started at right tackle for a few games which Lane Johnson was out last season.
The problem is Philadelphia doesn't really have any in-house options. David Molk, Josh Andrews, Julian Vandervelde and Dennis Kelly are all below average options at best.
But right now nothing is set in stone for this Sunday vs. New Orleans.
"No, we don't," Kelly admitted when asked if he knew who would be ready to play on Sunday. "That's a good question, and we don't. You know, we'll see. Lane's [T Lane Johnson] going to go today and see how much he can go today. J.P. [T Jason Peters] will go today; I don't know how much he'll go today, but I was told he's going to try to do some things today. Allen [G/T Allen Barbre] went full yesterday, but we'll see how Allen is as we progress through the week and we still have Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But no, we don't have that answer right now. Not on Thursday."
Run blocking is the most obvious among Philadelphia's offensive-line issues. The Eagles have averaged just 70 yards per game, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Though the team is struggling to run the ball, Kelly noted that the offensive line isn't the only culpable party.
"It falls on everybody," Kelly explained. "It falls on the play calls; it falls on the play designs; it falls on the offensive line; it falls on the receivers; it falls on the quarterback; it falls on everybody. It's on the entire offense, [which] contributes to our success or non-success. It's not an individual sport. This isn't tennis. This isn't golf. You just can't say it's this guy's fault. It's not the way this sport's set up; it's not the way the sport's ever been set up."
And the Eagles will continue to try to make it work with their current configuration of offensive linemen, at least for now - that's the only choice they really have.