Evan Mathis is a ‘Terrific Player’ on Team That Has Struggled
The headline to this post might have come as a surprise to anyone who has seen all the poor play and injuries suffered this season by the Eagles' offensive line.
It's easy to be guilty by association the offensive line as a whole has not played well. And while it is hard to quantify an individual offensive lineman's performance, Evan Mathis is playing some pretty darn good football.
"He's the last man standing there up front," joked Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on Thursday. "He's a terrific player as you know. He's smart, natural, tough, strong, and instinctive. We can do some things with him. Yes, he has helped other players no doubt about that."
Mathis has been a bright spot in a season that has been a nightmare. Injures have crippled the Eagles offensive line, cause many players to shuffle in and out of the line-up, but the one constant this season has been Mathis playing left guard - but the Eagles aren't using this as an excuse.
"Yeah, we're getting pretty deep but a real football player will play at a high level under any circumstances really and some can't but he (Mathis) certainly has."
Mathis has been flagged for just four penalties this season,according to www.footballdb.com. Mathis's four accepted penalties are two holding calls and two offsides and has yet to give up a sack this season.
Mathis, despite the constant changes on the line, has seemed to fare well in both pass protection and run blocking, especially against some of the NFL's better pass rushers. It is his steady play that has helped solidify the line that was such a problem for most of the season.
“You look at sacks," head coach Andy Reid said about the lines improvment over the past few weeks. "I mean, that’s one thing that you look at. You look at the run game and you’ve got a running back that’s cranked out a few yards here the last few weeks. They’ve done a good job in their protection. They’ve done a good job with the run game.”
With four games remaining, the Eagles have allowed 35 sacks in all, 27 of Michael Vick and eight of Nick Foles, tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. That represents significant slide from last season's total of 32, which was the ninth-best in the league.
However, the line has played better in recent week, could the play of Foles one of the reasons the sack totals have stalled?
"He's done well there," Mornhinweg. "I will tell you that [with C] Dallas Reynolds - Dallas had some high level sacrifice. He's a tough dude, now. For him to play in that game, I think he needs some recognition that way. My point is that Dallas does much of that as well, and Dallas has to be on the money with the pre-snap recognition."
It seems to be a combination of Foles and just more experience as a unit.
Reynolds, had never stared an NFL Game entering this season. The left tackle spot has been a revolving door with King Dunlap and free-agent bust Demetress Bell, who have combined for 15 penalties, and former first-round pick Danny Watkins who struggled with injuries mid-season and now find himself on the bench behind Jake Scott.
“He’s right about there and he worked in a little bit at the left guard [position] last week when we were banged up just a little bit," said Reid about where Watkins is right now. "Right now, the group that’s playing right now, I think is a positive, so I’m sticking with that group as we speak. They’re playing well together and that’s [an] important position that you play well.”
However of all the guys who have come and gone this season, one name has remained and stood-out this season - Evan Mathis.