Eagles offensive line led the way vs. Bears and that needs to continue vs. Saints
8 January 2019 Eagles News
Football is a game won in the trenches and early on this season, that was not the case for the Eagles. After a rough start to the season, the Eagles offensive line has hit their groove. In the wildcard round of the playoffs, this group dominated the Bears, especially in pass protection. Moving forward towards the New Orleans Saints, the same offensive line needs to show up and dominate.
Let’s rewind the clocks a bit first. In their first eleven games, the offensive line allowed 34 sacks. Injuries to the offensive line and inconsistent play were the cause of that. In their last six games, the Eagles allowed just seven sacks. And against the best defense in the league, the Eagles gave up just one sack. Khalil
Mack, the best defensive player in the league when it comes to getting to the quarterback was nonexistent. This comes to no surprise as the Eagles were able to take J.J. Watt out of the game in week 16 as well as Aaron Donald the week before. But the negative versus the Bears was the fact the Eagles were not really able to establish the run, but keeping quarterback Nick Foles clean was key to this win. However, the Eagles know they need to step it up in the run game going forward.
“We did real well in the pass-protection part of it, but we have to clean up some things in the run game,” left tackle Jason Peters said. “Tight game, it came down to the very end. Thank God for (Bears kicker Cody) Parkey missing that last-second field goal. We had to keep 52 (Khalil Mack) and 94 (Akiem Hicks) and all of those guys off of Nick. I gave up two pressures early in that last drive, but I held him (Hicks) out of the backfield for the most part.” (Quote via Eagles.com)
Moving toward this Sunday’s divisional round matchup versus the Saints, the Eagles will be up against the 29th best defense against the pass and the second-best defense against the rush. The Saints know what their strengths are and will likely blitz the quarterback a lot more. Establishing the pocket early and getting the run game going will give the Eagles tremendous success against this team. When you’re able to run on the Saints, their defense crumbles. Learning from the Bears game and improving on it, run protection will be a big priority going forward into this game.
The Eagles offensive line’s resurgence is the main reason the Eagles have had success on this run. You cannot have a good offense when your offense is bad leaving the whole offense out to dry. This group is back to where they were last year and that makes this matchup very dangerous for the Saints. They are not going to push over this team as they did before. It is a whole new ball game now and this is not the offensive line you’d want to be playing against this time of the year.
Photo Credit: Yong Kim Philly.com