Can a Healthy Offensive Line Lead to Success in 2021?
If the Eagles want to get back to their winning ways, they are going to need to fix their broken down offensive line.
That unit started 14 different combinations in 16 games. Projected starters Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks never took a snap, while Lane Johnson was limited to parts of just seven games.
Fixing that unit could help fix the teams fortunes quickly, with Brooks and Johnson considered two of the best in the league at their respective positions. Adding those two could help jump-start what was a miserable offense in 2020.
Remember in 2012, when the Eagles finished the season 4-12, leading to Andy Reid's departure. That season, the Eagles offensive line had major injury issues with Jason Kelce playing just two games, Todd Herremans missing eight games and Jason Peters missing the entire season. Of the projected starters for the 2012 season, only Evan Mathis played in every game.
The next season under Chip Kelly the team went from 4-12 to 10-6 thanks in large part to the return of Peters, Herremans, Kelce and the addition of Lane Johnson with the No. 3 overall pick. All five offensive lineman started all 16 games that season and it was a big reason for the teams improvement.
Can the Eagles make that kind of improvement in 2021 with the expected return of Dillard, Brooks and Johnson?
In 2017 when the team won its only Super Bowl, the offensive line surrendered just 36 sacks on the season. This season, the Eagles depleted offensive line allowed an eye-popping 65 sacks.
A solid offensive line is very important and its very possible the Eagles have a good one again in 2021.
One interesting development will be the left tackle battle with Dillard returning from torn biceps and former seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata, a former professional rugby player in Australia, who made 10 starts this season. The expectation is one of those two will play left tackle with the other being the swing tackle.
One story to keep an eye on will be Kelce. The veteran center has one more season remaining on his contract, but has hinted at retiring. If he does not return, the Eagles could move left guard Isaac Seumalo over to center, draft a center or try either Nate Herbig or Luke Juriga at the position.
If they decided to use Seumalo, who had a solid season when healthy at guard, at center, they could have an open competition during training camp. Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta and Jack Driscoll are options on the current roster and of course the team could add a player through the draft or free agency.
Either way, the offensive line could go from being one of the teams biggest weaknesses, to one of its biggest strength, without really adding any talent from outside of the organization.
In 2013 they went from a four-win team to a 10-win team in large part because of their healthy offensive line and new head coach.
Here's hoping that 2021 brings similar success with a healthy line and new coaching staff.
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