Eagles O-Line Problems Are All Relative
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - This probably isn't the best week to point out your talented offensive line hasn't played up to its typical standards because the other side of the coin sports an offensive front so poor, it's shaping up to be historically inept.
The Eagles, though, are worried about their own house, not the dilapidated foundation Rick Spielman splashed a new fresh coat of paint on and tried to peddle as a competent plan to protect an $84 million quarterback.
The Vikings roll out names like Tom Compton and Rashod Hill on Sundays while the Eagles sport two All-Pros (Jason Kelce and Land Johnson), a Pro-Bowl selection (Brandon Brooks), and a future Hall of Famer (Jason Peters.)
In other words, Minnesota should be having problems when expecting Compton to deal with Aaron Donald or Hill trying to hold up against Ndamukong Suh.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, should not be watching Carson Wentz hit the turf nine times in two games since returning from ACL/LCL surgery.
But that's where we are as the reeling Vikings set to visit the 2-2 Eagles in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game.
The Eagles issues have been a confluence of factors starting with nagging injuries to Kelce (knee) and Peters (quad) couple with Johnson tumbling a bit from his perch as the game's best right tackle and the inability for a backfield missing Darren Sproles to do a capable job with blitz pick up. Add in Wentz's own penchant for holding onto the football in the hopes of making a big play and Tennessee's multiple 3-4 front and voila, you have a QB being hit too much.
“We certainly want to keep him upright," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said on Tuesday when discussing Wentz. “We don't like seeing him pick himself up off the ground. We've got to do a better job of that. All of us have got to be conscious of that, and it starts with us as coaches and making sure we put a plan together to keep him clean.”
In Nashville during the Eagles' 26-23 overtime setback, Went was caught four times but he was hit on another 11 occasions as well.
“The guys on the other side, they do a lot of studying too and they work hard," Groh explained. "They (the Titans) had a couple good pressures. They have a good pressure scheme. We knew that going into the game. They do a good job picking the offensive linemen up front knocking guys off the games and making it difficult (on) pass games and getting on edges."
Johnson, however, wasn't making any excuses.
"I think we could be better," Johnson said. "It’s still early in the season. I think a lot of our success, whenever we are doing good, is because the line is playing well and when we’re not, a lot of times we’re not winning games. From that standpoint, we need to pick our stuff up."
Johnson himself was beaten badly by talented Titans rookie Harold Landry on one occasion, resulting in a strip sack fumble that helped fuel Tennessee's comeback from a two-touchdown deficit.
“I gave up one sack,” Johnson said. “Although there were (50) pass attempts where I locked the guy down is not noted, man. But that’s the life I live in, that’s the life I chose."
That surliness is probably a good thing for Philadelphia which will be facing a Vikings defense minus its best pass rusher Everson Griffen, who is away from the team dealing with some serious personal issues.
In the end, problems are relative and to prove that thesis all you need to do is focus on the opposition. While Philadelphia has the talent to fix its issues, old friend John DeFilippo, now the Vikings' OC, has to ask Compton to block Fletcher Cox and Hill to handle Brandon Graham on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Things could always be worse.
“We've got as good an offensive line as there is in the league, and wouldn't trade any of those guys,” said Groh.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen