Right side of OL is quite clearly the soft underbelly of the Eagles

If you saw the Eagles preseason game last night against the Browns, you saw Michael Vick pressured and hit, early and often.  The Eagles started rookie 6th round pick Jason Kelce at center, and rookie 1st round pick Danny Watkins at guard.  King Dunlap started at right tackle.  While Dunlap played what I’ll classify as “acceptable” football, the two rookies were downright bad, particularly in pass protection.  I’ll have to watch the game replay to evaluate the gory details, but I think Vick summed it up best:

You can’t expect a guy to come in and be, you know, a Pro Bowl type of player in two games.  I mean, that’s just not the way this thing works.  And you know, you got so many responsibilities on offense as a center, so many things you have to learn, so many defenses and different looks that you’re gonna see, and that’s just part of the growing pains that we all have to go through in this league.  You can’t expect somebody to come out and perform at a high level when they only had two or three games under their belt.  It’s going to take time, it’s going to take reps, it’s going to take mistakes.

Vick was trying to have his teammates’ backs with those statements, but they revealed what he really thinks – that they’re not playing well.  And, obviously, he’s right.  It’s going to take time.  It’s going to take reps.  It’s going to take mistakes.  Unfortunately, with the shortened offseason, Kelce and Watkins didn’t have a full offseason of OTA’s, minicamps, and film study.  They had a few weeks up at Lehigh University and a couple preseason games.  That’s it.  There’s a reason teams have OTA’s and minicamps – They’re certainly not having them just for shits and giggles. Even more unfortunately, the Eagles have neither the time nor the available reps to give their young offensive linemen, and too many mistakes are going to get Vick killed.  A quick rundown of the problem areas:

C – Obviously, the Eagles can’t trust Jason Kelce to start the season at center.  That job will (or rather should) go to Jamaal Jackson, a legitimate NFL center.  Frankly, the Eagles may have just wanted to get a look at Kelce with the 1s in a meaningless game.  If so, they have their answer, at least to start the season.

RG – From the second Danny Watkins was drafted, everyone and their mother had him penciled in as the Week 1 starter at RG.  But as I already noted, even with Watkins being a smart, mature, 26-year-old rookie, he just hasn’t had adequate time this offseason to be NFL ready.  I firmly believe that the Eagles can’t go into this season with either rookie starting.  Some might call that panicking.  I’d call it being realistic.  In a move that barely moved the needle amid the Eagles major free agency signings, they were able to bring in Evan Mathis from Cincinnati.  Per Pro Football Focus, Mathis hasn’t given up a single sack in 724 snaps over the past 2 years.  I think Mathis could be an option until Watkins is ready to play, or rather play well.

RT – King Dunlap appears to be a solid swing tackle, but he’s not an answer as a starter.  There’s really nothing the Eagles can do here.  They just have to cross their fingers and hope that either Winston Justice or Ryan Harris feels better soon, and that they can continue to feel healthy once they’re ready to go.  Not ideal.

As it stands, the Eagles are essentially parking their Lamborghini under a bunch of unsturdy trees as Hurricane Irene approaches.

17 Comments

  1. So theres me vote for you dad- god bless!

  2. brisulph says:

    Watkins will be fine, we Canadians always are.

  3. tyrant says:

    Cowboys drafted Bill Nagy in the 7th and David Arkin in the 4th…both are doing better than Watkins…alot better.

    1. Think you might be jumping the gun a bit.

  4. Stephen says:

    This is a tough year for rookies to crack the starting lineup. Just not a lot of time to prepare. You know what I’m tired of? Everyone mentioning that Danny Watkins was a fireman, as if though thats relevant to his ability to play in the NFL.

      1. packimop says:

        Not that it means anything, but those dudes are obviously pretty good athletes. Plus I just saw this video a few days ago and wanted to share it with the world.

  5. Joe D says:

    It’s pretty clear these guys need more reps and were affected greatly by the lockout… Even Matthews looked BETTER, but not amazing…. And Jaquan Jarret(SP) didn’t even get a single look with the 1s… Obviously not ready

  6. Tracer Bullet says:

    I’m worried that Reid will watch the tape and conclude that, since the OL was better in the second quarter, Kelce and Watkins will be fine with more reps.

  7. packimop says:

    Vick was getting clobbered. Bad. I really hope they can get this under control before he goes down and Vince Young starts being horrible.

    1. DerfDiggy says:

      That was definitely almost as funny as Tony Romo’s wedding video.

  8. Jason-E says:

    We need to remember that Justice has not practiced or played in Mudd’s system. He’s really an unproven commodity. We all look forward to his return, but he could prove to not be the answer either.

  9. ATLEagle says:

    So Kelce can get downfield and sustain blocks… do we need a pulling center who cant pass protect on a pass first ( pass all the time) team? He would be a pulling guard or a tremendous blocking tight end. I am hoping that last night was the experiment to prove if he is ready, and the answer is GOD NO . I really like the guy as the successor to Jamal Jackson, but that would come after Jackson is done… not replacing him when the new guy cant get the job done.

    1. Euler says:

      We’re a power running team now. Get used to it.

  10. Matt says:

    What’s the deal with Jackson at C? Is he still trying to get back into his old form? I’m confused why he isn’t the lock to be starting at center.

    Honestly I think I can live with Watkins learning on the job so to speak if the eagles have Jackson at center and someone at RT that is healthy and not named King.

    1. Euler says:

      I think you can see what Mudd really likes in Kelce from his run blocking plays. His ability to sustain blocks and get upfield seemed really impressive from what I saw. He clearly has some big problems in protection though. I’m guessing he’s hopping he could put that together and wanted to see him in a game setting to see if that comes to fruition.

      I’m more concerned about Watkins than King, especially since the Eagles have a really really good option to replace Watkins.

  11. Immynimmy says:

    I understand people are saying that we are going to go through growing pains until they learn, but is being patient worth it? What happens if this O line gets Vick killed. It simply isn’t worth these guys getting reps and playing time if we risk the possibility of Vick getting injured. Going into week 1, I don’t think 1 rookie should be starting on the O line.

%d bloggers like this: