Some OL Talk

Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 71 Comments »

The Eagles brought in OL Chris Williams on Wednesday.  He was recently cut by the Bears.  Williams was a 1st round pick out of Vanderbilt.  The Eagles liked him quite a bit as a LT prospect, but the Bears took him 14th overall and the Eagles ended up dealing their 1st rounder to the Panthers (who then picked Jeff Otah).

Williams struggled at LT so the Bears moved him around.  He did have some success at LG.  He had been on the bench for a couple of games and his release seemed like a mutual decision.  Williams wasn’t happy on the bench and the Bears didn’t see him in their future plans.

What would Williams do if he signed here?  He could take over at LT.  Demetress Bell has shown progress, but isn’t playing at a high level.  An interesting possibility would be to plug Williams in at LG and then move Evan Mathis to C.  Dallas Reynolds has struggled since taking over for Jason Kelce.

The Eagles could try something drastic and move Todd Herremans to LT, then Mathis to RT, and put Williams in at LG.  That would make me nervous.  Too much change on the OL can be a bad thing.  Continuity is something you want up front since the players have to work together.

It is hard for me to say what the best option is since I don’t know what kind of potential Mathis has at C or RT.  Right now I think Mathis is the Eagles top performing OL.  I’m only moving him if I think he can upgrade at C or RT.  I can count on Mathis at LG.  I don’t want to move him and then have that spot be a question mark, as well as LG with someone new taking over there.

Williams is visiting the Cardinals today.  They could make him the LT.  They’ve given up 28 sacks, which leads the league.  Michael Vick has “only” gone down 17 times.

* * * * *

Let’s talk about the Eagles OL as it stands today.

D BELL – Went from complete liability to functional LT.  Is getting more and more comfortable in the Mudd system.  Able to use his athletic ability now.  Effective pass blocker.  Inconsistent run blocker.  Biggest issue for him is knowing who to block.  Has let some rushers / blitzers go free to the inside.  That’s a no-no.  Isn’t playing so well that you’re comfortable with him at LT, but is functional.

MATHIS – Eagles best and most consistent OL this year.  Good pass blocker.  Anchors well when he locks on and gets his feet set.  Good run blocker.  Can reach block and seal off backside DT on runs to right.  Can handle DT on runs to his side.  Able to get to the second level and block LBs.  Will get beaten at times, but those tend to be few and far between.

REYNOLDS – Struggled a lot in his first start (ARZ).  Problem was double A-gap blitzes.  And Calais Campbell.  Played better against the Giants.  Had a good game vs Steelers.  They have bigger NTs that lack the quickness to win battles with lateral moves and/or upfield bursts (how Campbell beat him).  Reynolds has pretty good size/strength.  Put a man in front of him and he’ll execute the block.  Reach blocks are tough against quick DTs.  Reynolds has okay lateral agility.  Struggles on the second level.  Either flies up there and is out of control or stays under control and is too late.  Detroit was a bad game for him.  Had snap issues on 3 plays.  Struggled with blocking Suh and Fairley.  They had the strength/quickness combo to get the best of Reynolds.  He wasn’t able to slide to the side and block them.  Either he was too slow with the slide or he was quick, but off balance.

Reynolds big problem is that he’s not physical gifted and he’s also inexperienced.  Players like him need to know the little tricks it takes to win 1-on-1 battles.  He’s learning on the job, but can’t fall back on his athleticism to win those battles while he learns.  Reynolds is tough, mentally and physically.  As bad as he’s been beaten in some games, you still see him busting his butt out there.  He lacks experience, but is a mature player (28 yrs old).  I think he can be a functional player, but will struggle when facing top DTs.

WATKINS – We have a couple of different discussions when analyzing Danny.  The Eagles took him in the 1st round to be a good RG.  He has been disappointing and hasn’t come close to playing to the level where it was worth spending a 1st round pick on him.  I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

That said, we can’t hold that over his head forever.  At some point you forget about draft status and just deal with the player.  Don’t compare him to Shawn Andrews or Jermane Mayberry.  Compare him to Harry Boatswain, Steve Sciullo, or Doug Brzezinski.  Suddenly Watkins becomes a much more attractive option at RG.  You can still be mad at Roseman, Reid, and/or Mudd for the pick, but don’t hold that against Danny.

As for Watkins play, there is progress.  Derek from IgglesBlog and I talked about him on Twitter.  We both were very impressed by him at times.  I think Watkins looked good on 22 or 23 of the 25 plays in the 3rd Qtr.  There were some blocks that were textbook quality.

The problem is that Danny remains inconsistent as a pass blocker.  He struggles with athletic DTs or pass rushers.  Danny can lock on and anchor really well, but he doesn’t always get his hands on the rusher and that leads to some lookout blocks…as in “Hey Mike, look out!!!”  I think Danny is worth keeping on the field since he does have potential and is still learning.  I know he’s old for a young player (would that be an oxymoron?), but he is showing progress.  It just isn’t at the pace we expected.  The one thing I can’t speak to is work ethic.  Is Danny committed to being the best football player he can?  Does he have the competitive streak to not settle for “okay”?  I don’t know, but think those are fair questions based on the first 1.5 years of his NFL career.  Clearly he’s not lazy.  Getting to the top in the NFL goes much beyond that, though.  It takes special commitment.  Not all players have that.

HERREMANS – Todd should be the top OL on the team right now.  He’s athletic.  He’s strong and tough.  He’s experienced.  I have no idea why his play is off in 2012, but it is.  I’m not saying he’s a bad player.  Todd clearly isn’t.  He is disappointing because he’s not playing up to his normal level.  Did getting the contract extension this spring have some negative effect on him?

The issues with Todd’s play aren’t physical.  When he’s focused and “on”, he can still be a shutdown pass blocker and very good run blocker.  Todd just seems out of it on some plays.  He’s gotten beaten to the inside several times.  He got beat off the edge in OT on Sunday and gave up a huge sack.  He complained in the opener about not being able to hear the calls and adjustments from Kelce.  That struck me as odd.  Cleveland has good fans, but it isn’t anything like a dome or Seattle where it can be deafening.

I don’t know if Todd is distracted by something or what.  Maybe he’s just having an off year.  We can’t all be at our best every season.  I’m hoping Todd comes out of the bye week and plays like his old self.  We could use that guy, whether at LT or RT.

DUNLAP – It is worth noting that we’re 2-0 with King starting at LT.  Of course, Kelce was also the C in those games.  King did a solid job.  He can be a good pass blocker.  Bad run blocker.  Height hurts him on those plays.  Also, not the most fiery guy in the world.

I do wonder if he gets the LT job back anytime soon.  I don’t know that King has been 100 percent and he’s not the guy you want out there when hurt.  He’s not a great player when fully healthy.  The other point is that he’s not much of an upgrade on Bell, if he is one at all.  That was different when Bell was a headcase, but Bell’s playing better football now.

PETERS – I think his return is an extreme longshot, kinda like me getting a phone call from Olivia Wilde.  Theoretically possible, but probably not in this particular universe.  Jason is a very gifted man.  Great natural athlete.  He will never be mistaken for Jerry Rice when it comes to practice and preparation.  I find it hard to believe he’ll rehab his Achilles, stay in great shape, and be ready to get back on the field in the next month.  That’s asking a lot.  Guys who return quickly tend to be freaks like Rice or Rod Woodson or Adrian Peterson.  Peters has freaky gifts, but he’s still an O-lineman and those guys don’t have the same kind of body as the other guys I mentioned.

D KELLY – Howard Mudd is very high on Kelly.  Would he try to find a spot for him in the lineup?  Possible.  Kelly could play LG if they want to move Mathis to the middle.  Kelly could take over at RT if they wanted to move Todd to the left side.  I don’t think Dennis Kelly is ready for LT at this point.   Kelly has played in some goal line sets.  He’s had a couple of good blocks, but those were short yardage run plays where he could fire off the ball.  Much different than dropping back in pass pro and reacting to someone like JPP, DeMarcus Ware, or Haloti Ngata.

* * * * *

I think the Eagles can win with an OL of Bell-Mathis-Reynolds-Watkins-Herremans.  The key is that they need some help.  That comes from 2 main places:  Marty/Andy and Mike Vick.

Marty/Andy need to build more realistic gameplans.  No one says you have to abandon the deep ball.  You can still mix them in.  You must focus more on rhythm passes.  Those are short and intermediate routes:  slant, out, screen, dig, deep out, cross, shallow cross, etc.  It would also help to run the ball more often.  That will build the confidence of the OL and keep DL guessing rather than teeing off.

Vick can help by getting rid of the ball quicker.  Ron Jaworski recently noted that he had Pro Football Focus time the release of all 32 QBs in the NFL.  Vick was last.  He held the ball on average for 3 seconds per pass play.  I cannot find the date online, but I think he said the next QB was at 2.5 seconds.  That shows you a significant difference in Vick and other QBs.  He doesn’t do as well pre-snap and he doesn’t anticipate plays well.  Vick needs to see it.  That means holding the ball and letting plays develop.  Part of that blame does go to the coaches for throwing deeper passes.  Call shorter plays and Vick should get the ball out quicker, which helps him and the OL.

* * * * *

So what about Mudd?  He’s supposed to be an OL guru.  Is he at fault?

Yes and no.  I think Mudd is hurt by Vick’s play.  OL can’t thrive when  holding blocks that long.  A good QB can help an OL, just as they help him.  Does Tom Brady always magically have the best OL?  Heck no.  He gets good protection because he’s part of the protection.  He runs the no-huddle and gets the defense tired.  He throws plenty of quick passes to wear them out and discourage them.  Brady moves well within the pocket.  He’s able to sense pressure and slide a foot or two away.  Same is true for Peyton Manning.

Guys like Vick and Aaron Rodgers are playmaking type QBs.  They hold the ball.  That means taking sacks.  Rodgers has gotten sacked 23 times this year, Vick 17.  It doesn’t matter who the OL are or who the coach is if the QB isn’t part of the solution.  He must get the ball out quickly. Mudd got away with less than great players in his OLs in Indy because Peyton made such a difference with getting the ball out quickly.

Mudd might be at fault with some of the confusion.  My biggest complaint this year is all the rushers and blitzers that have gone free due to confusion and/or missed assignments.  I’m not going to get mad when DL beat our guys in a 1-on-1 matchup when they’re better.  That’s football.  I do get frustrated when rushers come free and we’ve got the numbers to block them.  That is a missed assignment.  The blitz might be well-designed, but OL should recognize it.  They should anticipate some of the blitzes and looks they’ve had to deal with.

* * * * *

There is no magic bullet here that will solve all the problems.  The coaches need to do a better job.  Vick needs to get the ball out quicker.  The OL must communicate better.  The OL must block better.  Not every sack is due to Vick holding the ball or Marty dialing up a deep pass.  We’ve had too many plays where the guys up front just got beat, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

It will be interesting to see what changes are made, lineup or otherwise.  The Eagles need better OL play if they are going to get where this team wants to go.

_


  • SteveH

    Considering the past 6 years of experience with Andy Reid as our head coach, I think hoping that we’ll adapt the offense to become a quick rhythm passing attack is unlikely, probably as unlikely as the aforementioned Olivia Wilde scenario. So we better hope the OL picks up its play in a big way.

  • nicolajNN

    ” Michael Vick has “only” gone down 17 times.”

    That’s not quite true, Vick has gone down 832,5 times, he’s been sacked 17 times.

    I believe it was Derek (sorry if it’s someone else) who on twitter asked if we could move Mathis to C and use King at LG. Is that possible or would you rather use Kelly in that case.

    You did a good job running down all the players but in regards to Dallas, does he, as the center, have something to with the missed alignment and confusion? Or is that on the other individual players on the OL?

    • TommyLawlor

      We had missed assignments even with Kelce. Maybe that was just early season rust. This far in, it is a real issue.

  • http://twitter.com/corry_k Corry Henry

    Could the interior of our line be helped by maybe cutting back on the stretch and draw plays? Reynolds, Watkins, and Herremans seem to be mauler types that can really open up lanes if given the opportunity. I’m just thinking a more…forceful running game could help these guys out. I’m also thinking guys like Brown and Polk would be extremely effective in that kind of rushing attack. Add in Havili and I think the running game could really open up on the right side.

    Couple a more direct approach to running the ball with a quicker passing attack, that would probably open up the long ball. Isn’t that football 101?

    • TommyLawlor

      Stretch plays worked fine early on. The Steelers always play the run pretty well. DET was a tough matchup for stretch runs. I do think we should have attacked the middle more. I don’t think you give up on stretch plays until you see them failing on a regular basis.

      • A_T_G

        Agreed. Against Detroit’s wide 9, the stretch play seems like a poor choice. Keep it inside those wide ends and attack the LBs. We know that song all too well.

      • austinfan

        It was obvious after the first couple stretch plays that they weren’t going to work against Detroit, too much penetration, traps and draws make more sense against highly aggressive and athletic DTs.

        But MM believes if he can draw a play up on paper, it WILL WORK. So keep calling it and never let reality interfere with your game plan.

        I’m starting to think MM is the Juan Castillo of OCs, hard working, can draw up schemes on paper, but doesn’t adjust to what’s happening in games. The difference is Juan’s problem was inexperience, MM’s problem is sheer stubbornness.

  • scott_mather

    Is JamJax completely out of the picture? I understand he’s not of the Mudd mold, but he’d have to be a better option than Reynolds I’d think.

    • TommyLawlor

      Teams must not think JamJax is in playing shape. He had one tryout that we know of and didn’t impress at all.

  • Septhinox

    ” Ron Jaworski recently noted that he had Pro Football Focus time the release of all 32 QBs in the NFL. Vick was last. He held the ball on average for 3 seconds per pass play. I cannot find the date online, but I think he said the next QB was at 2.5 seconds. ”

    Hahahaha Ok. While Vick is not the “only” one to blame, he’s ground zero for all of the offenses problems. The OL can’t block because Vick holds the ball. Vick Throws INTs. Vick Fumbles the ball. etc.

    • TommyLawlor

      The QB will always be at the center of things, good and bad. Vick magnifies the problems right now with his sloppy play and no one would dispute that.

      • Anders

        The only turnover against the Lions was the int he threw when targetting Avant. His “fumbles” where just bad snapping by Reynolds and his late interception was clearly taken by the wind

      • shah8

        I was thinking about that Vick holds ball PFF datapoint for awhile. I suspect this is one of those cases where the median rather than the average time is the better measure. That cuts out more FUBAR (better than normal plays don’t shorten times, worse plays lengthens time, so you mightwant to see what it looks like on a typical play), which might help. Is that data there?

        Watching Alex Smith play. So far, early in the game, it’s a great cure for thinking Michael Vick is so sloppy.

        Concur with the fundamental problem of missed assignments.

        • austinfan

          It’s also the playcalling, Derek showed the first play in overtime, even if Vick wanted to get rid of the ball, there was no outlet before Avril got to him. If plays are designed with deep routes and the outlets all blocking before they go out, the QB pretty much has to hold onto the ball unless he rolls out, because he has nowhere to throw it away or dump it off.

          Now Vick is definitely looking a little shell shocked at times, but most NFL QBs would be looking pretty dazed with the beating he’s taken.

  • nopain23

    I really thought the iggles should have drafted David Molk because it was clear we were pretty thin at center

    • TommyLawlor

      He slid to 7th round due to medical concerns. Eagles might not have had a passing grade on him.

  • Steag209

    I’m behind the idea of moving Mathic to C, he seems to learn very quickly, like Kelce did. The problem I have is that I think LT is our biggest weakness. I’m more worried about Bell/Kiing/Turnstyle then Reynolds at this point. Can Williams fix either of our problems? I doubt it but at this point I’m willing to give it a try

  • shah8

    Man, someone out there needs to have that long post explaining to football watchers about why some teams have their QBs hold the ball if they can help it. I nominate Chris Brown.

    Do you really think GB can manage a quick strike offense up and down the field on a consistent basis? I certainly don’t, largely for the same reasons Pitt and Philly holds the ball for longer plays. They don’t have the OL. It only takes one disaster, one hold, before you’re in a deep hole. Pitt won their game because Big Ben *could* hold onto the ball on 3rd and 20. If you give Tomlin or Reid Belichick’s line, you would see quite a bit more of a short strike passing game all season. And when Reid *had* a line like that, McNabb did do lots of little passes for long stretches of the season. Pocket has to happen. If the pocket lasts for 2.5 seconds, more time can be bought. If pockets isn’t well formed or especially long lasting, well, yes, you can throw for 1-3 lines pass the LoS. Quick strikes. Three and outs, too, along with pick6s. I watch the Vikings and Eagles. I see what that kind of offense does. Vikings offense only managed six points on two field goals against the Lions. If the Lions weren’t so horrible on special teams and Percy wasn’t, you know, Pot God, they’d been in serious trouble in the game the Vikings won.

    Flat out, the OL is simply not playing well enough for *any* style of offense to work. They can’t run block, and they can’t pass block, and the Eagles have no real meat and potatoes short yardage guy for YACs, especially when the RB has to help block.

  • eagles2zc

    Great post Tommy, very informative. It’s perplexing why Marty calls a large percentage of runs to the left when running to the right has worked better so far this season. Someone tell Marty JP’s not playing at LT this season!

    • TommyLawlor

      For the year, I think we’ve run more to the right. Last year we were predominantly a left running team.

  • Miami_Adam

    I can’t imagine they let Dallas Reynolds cover Vick’s blind side just so they could move Herrdawg to LT

    • TommyLawlor

      Dallas Reynolds is C or benched. Don’t think they’d use him at OG. No shot at OT.

      • Miami_Adam

        Holy brainfart. Dennis Kelly.

        Almost the same guy…right?

        • TommyLawlor

          I wondered. Here’s the thing…if you could put Todd at LT and trust him, then you could put Kelly at RT and give him help. Not ideal, but a possibility.

  • ian_no_2

    I’m uneasy about moving Mathis to C. Mathis at G is the only good thing going right now. He didn’t get any preseason reps at C.

    Two Dennis Kelly thoughts:
    1. At 6’8″, he seems too tall for G;
    2. Maybe it’s time to give him a try.

    A few days ago I was hearing the bad stuff about Watkins and thought maybe they should put Kelly at RT and Herremans at G. If you’re keeping Watkins out there, then it’s a Kelly v. Bell v. Dunlap question. If Bell needs to be taught how to play LT at this point in his career maybe it’s better to teach a rookie who’s on schedule.

    • Jay

      He may be too tall for G at 6’8 but Todd was a good G at 6’6 so you never know. Those 2 inches could be affect him but I personally don’t think it means much.
      If they gave the 6’11 King Dunlap the starting nod vs. the Cards last year for the injured Mathis, then I think they’re certainly open to anyone playing G.

      • ian_no_2

        Dunlap is 6’9″ but ok. Likewise I can’t imagine Dunlap in extended action at G. I’m talking about looking for a combination that you can stick with.

        • Jay

          Yeah, my mistake. I thought it was an inch below 7 feet for some reason.

  • Jay

    You guys have to remember that Winston Justice was the blindside T to Mike Vick. Justice wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t consistently good/solid. So even if we do put Kelly or someone else over there, I don’t think it could get much worse than Justice. I also recall Justice playing with a bum knee during the 2010 season?
    Either way, a change needs to be done to help this problem. Either a shake-up or a change or play-calling.

  • Jay

    Falcons are 3-1 after the bye under the Mike Smith and Matt Ryan duo.

    That loss happens to be against us, I do believe. That game is almost 4 years exactly to this upcoming game as well.

    Only thing I remember about that game was there was a key referee ruling in which I believe the official made a terrible call that helped us out big time and Mike Smith was unable to challenge due to not having any left or timeouts.
    Either way, I think we have a good chance of beating them this year.
    I think we can expose their defensive weaknesses and if I’m not mistaken they do not have a run game this year. Also, Matt Ryan is 0-2 at the Linc. He can’t seem to get a win in the city closest to his hometown.I could be wrong on this but until last weekend, wasn’t the last big play by Maclin vs. the Falcons in 2010?

    I’m already pumped for the ATL game!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Carranza/1482895201 Eric Carranza

      hopefully robinson doesnt try to take another cheap shot on one of our wr’s this year, he’s done it the past two games

    • Zachary Kaplan

      I have no confidence in this game one way or another. It’s not like we can claim to have more talent than the Falcons, they have us beat on offense, even if we have the “better talent” on defense.

      Also I don’t feel like the Eagles are a great home team anymore. I think many fans are like me and don’t really like this team. They are and I am a Eagles fan, but I don’t like the coach, I don’t like many of the players, and they don’t build a lot of confidence. So I’m not sure home field means what it once did in Philadelphia.

  • Jay

    Tommy, is it harder to play LT or RT? Or is it basically the same? The reason I ask is because would Todd Herremans be better off at LT anyways?
    Maybe he’s more natural on the left side and so that would improve his play. I do know that Todd has started at least one game at LT and that was against the Redskins last year. If I remember correctly he actually had a very good game, and some great running blocks.

    Do you think Watkins could play RT with any type of success?

    • A_T_G

      I’m not Tommy, but I believe the biggest difference is that the LT tends to face the best pass rusher most often, since they face the guy typically attacking the QB’s blindside.

      • TommyLawlor

        Right. Best rushers are RDE, meaning LT has toughest matchup.

    • TommyLawlor

      I would not trust Danny at OT. Not at all.

      Todd was very good at LT. Was that an anomaly or is that a natural spot? I don’t know.

      • Anders

        For some reason, I always thought Danny could atleast play RT.

        • austinfan

          Danny played LT for two years at Baylor, and against some pretty good pass rushers in the Big 12. But he’s 6’3 and has 34″ arms, Colon was able to get away with that at RT for a couple years (though what happened to him, was the knee injury that bad, because he looked atrocious at LG), but few OTs can. One reason Herremans struggles is short arms.

          Did the Eagles blow it with Watkins, yeah, but they could have taken Carimi, who’s been as bad as Bell.

          Weird thing is Watkins looked great at guard at the Senior Bowl, although he was raw he looked like a quick study. I’m convinced that Reynolds has really set him back, he needs to focus on making technique second nature, but right now he’s thinking about too many things. Hopefully at some point the light will go on, because I still think he has the talent to be a top OG. Just remember Bobby Williams struggled as a pass blocker in 2003, two years later he was one of the best RGs in the league. Unfortunately, in Cincinnati while we had to suffer through MJG and Cole for a few years.

          • Anders

            The arm length thing is so outdated. Matt Kalil has 1/4″ longer arms than Watkins.

            Also we only suffered through Cole and MJG because Andrews got back and depression problems

  • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

    “Marty/Andy need to build more realistic gameplans.”
    Hahahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahhahahaha!!!!!
    Next question!

    • TommyLawlor

      They did it vs NYG. PIT and BAL too. They can do it. Just isn’t what they like to do.

  • Arby1

    Any ideas why our coveted LT Chris Williams never worked out so far in the nfl? I remember he was supposed to go higher in the first round but slid a little. He seemed like the proverbial “sure thing.”

  • A_T_G

    Not trying to defend Reynolds, but are we sure the bad snaps were his fault? They came in a bunch after Vick got his bell rung. You said in the DGR that Vick did the step to signal he was ready, but only kind of. That seems like something he shouldn’t do.

    • TommyLawlor

      How many snap issues have we had in last 3 years? We then have 3 in 1 game? Reynolds had a big hand in that. Vick did move his foot on one, but it wasn’t the standard signal. Think DR might have been itchy about getting started with his block and jumped the gun.

      • Jay

        Funny how when we played the Steelers, Ben had like 2 errant snaps come at him and he was able to recover the football both times.
        Romo and Eli (this is more-so for Romo) get errant snaps somewhat often and it always seems like they make something out of nothing or least throw it out of bounds.

        When Vick has an errant snap comes his way, the defense ends up recovering it.
        Just.Our.Luck.

  • Jay

    I’m not completely against it but I’m a little hesitant about moving the one guy on the OL that is playing solid.
    We have absolutely no idea if Mathis could even play good at T or C, so there’s a significant risk involved.

    I would like to see Herremans and Mathis on the left side and hopefully that can solidify one side of the OL. Then we can go about trying to help the C, RT and possibly RG position.

    Could Watkins play C?

    Like I asked in an earlier post, wouldn’t it be easier to gameplan for protections if we only have to worry about one side of the line being shaky, instead of both sides? LT, C, RG, and RT are all up and down.

    The reasons I want Herremans at LT are:
    – Maybe he’s more comfortable on the left side which could lead to him to playing better
    – He had a great game vs. the Redskins/Brian Orakpo last year.
    – Herremans would be playing next to Mathis, vice versa. That could benefit both players because Todd would have a good G to his right, and Evan would have a good T to his left (Even though Todd hasn’t played as well as he’s capable of). Both players could ultimately start playing a lot better.

  • Jay

    Jason Peters – Todd Herremans – Mike McGlynn – MJD/Nick Cole Duo – Winston Justice

    Dunlap/Bell Duo – Evan Mathis – Dallas Reynolds – Danny Watkins – Todd Herremans

    Which is the better unit? I sure do miss me some Mike McGlynn and Winston Justice right about now.

    • Anders

      Atleast the first line had a very dominating left side. Now we only have 1 good LG and a sporatic good RG/RT

  • Jay

    When Howard Mudd came to Philly, so did his Hall of Fame, OL coaching scheme.
    His system worked great in Indy, and usually required taller and/or slimmer offensive lineman that were more athletic than powerful.
    Pretty much the opposite of what Juan Castillo wanted in his offensive lineman.

    Anyways, when Mudd was announced as our new OL coach, everyone said that he would come in and help prevent our high sack number from 2010. We had 49 sacks, 101 QB hits, and 561 passing attempts.

    If I do believe, one of the first things people said about the scheme was that it required the QB to make protection shifts/etc at the line of scrimmage (which Mike Vick was going to have to learn), and for the QB to get the ball out of his hand quickly…Both are things that Peyton Manning was/is VERY good at.

    In 2011, our OL play was a lot better. Mudd’s system/coaching definitely benefited us, but you do have to give credit to the players. Our OL talent was better than the previous year. In hindsight, Mathis and Kelce are two good players/keepers.
    In 2011 we had 32 sacks, 72 QB hits, and 554 passing attempts. That is significant improvement.

    This year, we had a starter go down before this season even started and another starter go down a game and a half into the season.
    We are not even mid-way through the season and we have 17 sacks, 51 QB hits, and 231 passing attempts.
    We are averaging 2.8 allowed sacks, 8.5 QB hits, on 38.5 pass attempts per game.
    That is awful, plain and simple. The 51 QB hits after 6 games just blows my mind.

    Those gawdy numbers are partially due to the fact that we have 2 starters out of the lineup, Mike Vick is holding onto the ball way too long, and because MM isn’t being smart with the play-calling. What happened to running the ball, and throwing quick passes to negate the pass rush?

    The gameplan we had in the second half of the Giants game and what we did in the 3rd quarter vs. the Lions is what we need to start doing for the rest of the season. Construct every week’s offensive gameplan with a base foundation of what we did during the parts of those two games.

    Mudd’s scheme works. Obviously it doesn’t help when you lose 2 starters and that very may be the biggest reason they are giving up too many hits/sacks.
    Maybe starting Foles could be a good team decision. He had a terrible college OL and so he had to get the ball out very quickly. That’s a key component of Mudd’s scheme.
    Even with 2 starters being out of the line-up, maybe our OL unit isn’t as bad as we think. Vick is holding the ball way too long and that’s something that you can’t have happen in Mudd’s scheme. It could be that Vick’s the biggest problem and not the OL.

    • austinfan

      While Peters was an ultra talent, he never played up to his potential until 2011.
      Mathis was a street free agent who had never won a starting job.
      Kelce was a 6th rd undersized rookie center.
      Watkins was a raw LT being converted to RG as a rookie.
      Herremans was a LG moving to RT
      I’d say Mudd did a heck of a job in 2011, given what he had to work with.

      2012 the talent is part of the problem, but Mudd hasn’t gotten them to play well, and has to share some of the blame for the talent, he got rid of Justice, agreed to signing Bell, couldn’t find a backup C among Vallos, Vandervelde and Reynolds. Mathis, Herremans have both regressed.

      Watkins is a special case, I think he was hurt by the Kelce injury more than any other player on the line, Reynolds just doesn’t seem to “get” playing center and most of the confusion has been between Reynolds and Watkins. I won’t be surprised if when Kelce returns next year, the light goes on for Watkins because he can just focus on technique.

      • Anders

        Mathis hasnt really regressed imo, its just he have gone from having Peters and Kelce besides him to Bell/dunlap and Reynolds.

  • GermanEagle

    Thanks for the analysis.

    Our O line still remains the arguably worst in the NFL, at least the worst in the AR era…

  • iskar36

    I know you are saying that people are holding Watkins to too high of a standard, but frankly, I think he has played terrible this season. If he gets his hands on a guy, he is fine, but WAAAAAY to often I see him double teaming someone or looking completely the other way while a defender runs right past him untouched. It seems to happen several times a game and considering Herremans is the veteran, I have a hard time believing it is regularly Herremans fault.

    When you mentioned Chris Williams, my first thought was why the hell would you shuffle so many people when you can just bench Watkins and put Williams in at RG instead of LG. I don’t know how interchangeable LG and RG are, but I just haven’t seen Watkins put things together after a full year of being a starter. To me that is inexcusable.

  • T_S_O_P

    Tommy, though it hasn’t happened this very strange week, Vick and Marty are under the microscope. We all know what could happen if Vick doesn’t stop giving the other team so many chances while at the same time missing them for us. We also know that I don’t trust Marty. Put that last statement to one side and trusting that you know me to be objective enough, what are the chances that Andy is actively looking for another Whipple or Whipple XL? After all, he bought in Marty to add the Nitro to his offense when Brad and he were running it, could he be looking for a meat and potatoes guy as an offensive advisor at this moment? Nitro is no good when unless the vehicle is up to speed and running on all cylinders. We are no way near all cylinders and adding more Nitro just increases the chances for more back fires (calling Chris Houston).

  • http://twitter.com/RIPworms RIP Worms

    Tommy, you can’t just sit around waiting for Olivia Wilde to call. Take some initiative. Call her. Or follow her around town. Or climb a tree and watch her sleeping through her bedroom window. Stars love that stuff.

    • TommyLawlor

      Done. Thanks for the advice.

  • Zachary Kaplan

    Off Topic:

    Based on the pciture of the Game winner against us in the Detroit game that was on BLoggingtheBeast earlier this week…..showing all the empty seats…

    Wondering who fans like on this team?

    We used to have Dawk, Westy, Runyan, to a lesser extent McNabb, Trotter, Sheldon Brown, plenty of others I’m sure I’m missing….but many of those guys were worshiped in Philadelphia, I don’t feel like that is there anymore.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been extremely disappointed in them over the last two years, but I don’t feel like this team is likable. And we all know the coach isn’t…

    • ACViking

      Hey, the Eagles still have Harold Carmichael . . . just not in uniform.

  • TheRogerPodacter

    hey everyone… be sure to check out Derek’s latest post @ IgglesBlog.
    http://www.igglesblog.com/iggles_blog/2012/10/lions-non-video-rewind.html

    As a commenter there said, he is making AMAZING use of the all 22 film.

    Here, he is looking into the coverages on each of the plays.
    Some things that stood out to me:
    1) lots of different looks through the first 3 quarters.
    2) nnamdi had a very good/great game.
    3) the injury to nate allen hurt us pretty bad, not just in replacing the player, but the defensive schemes seemed to go away from everything that had been working up to that point.
    4) this is making me wonder – if the coaches see this as well, and they are on the field when they are happening and they KNOW for sure who is responsible… then Castillo is fired shortly after…
    this leads me to believe that Juan really was the one at fault here.

  • Skeptic_Eagle

    Wow, interesting perspective. I’m not someone that puts all the miscues on the offensive line–I believe Vick really holds onto the ball way too long at times–but I think you’re presenting a snapshot of a unit that is serviceable, with occasional lapses. Can’t agree at all. They’re not the absolute worst group in the league, but I would definitely put them in the bottom 7 or 8. They’d have to take the express elevator up quite a few floors to get to serviceable.

    If by “functional”, you mean Bell isn’t actually disqualified for how poorly he plays, I’d agree he’s “functional”. He’s an atrocious pass blocker–almost the definition of “turnstile”; and that’s when he’s not setting the offense back with 5 yard false start penalties. I, like you, wonder why they haven’t moved Dunlap back in there. Reynolds is about as bad at center.

    At least those guys have excuses, though, as they are both subbing in for an injured player. Watkins, evaluated objectively, is not playing at the level of a starting NFL guard. He can put up occasional moments of being solid in the run game, but the main trait he’s consistent in is his poor pass blocking. I can’t say I see much improvement since last year. A bummer, but not that shocking.

  • ACViking

    T-Law wrote:

    “I think his [Peters’] return is an extreme longshot, kinda like me getting a phone
    call from Olivia Wilde. Theoretically possible, but probably not in
    this particular universe.”
    _______________

    There’s always the Source Code.

  • Ark87

    Ok Tommy, here’s my bye week boredom story:
    So there i was browsing Netflix (god I hate the bye week, especially after a horrible loss, not enough relevant sport news to obsess over). When I came across the film “Vertical Limit”. I hadn’t seen this film but the great Tommy Lawlor had deemed it worthy enough to quote in a previous post concerning Andy Reid’s coaching job perhaps being already dead.

    Having seen Juan’s post-firing interview with Derrick Gunn, the very first scene of the film definitely served as an excellent metaphor. In this metaphor, Juan is Royce Garrett, leading his team up the mountain. Close behind is Andy Reid/ Peter Garrett. Bringing up the rear would be Marty Morhinweg/ Annie Garrett. Tragedy strikes (Sunday’s loss) and climbers start falling, saved only by their collective lifeline, but clearly it won’t hold. Juan/Royce see what is happening and screams ” CUT THE LINE, YOU TWO MUST SURVIVE!!!!!”. An extremely reluctant Andy/Peter is forced to cut the line in spite of Marty/Annie’s protests (“we might need to use him as a scapegoat later!!!”).

    All in all I enjoyed the film. Good times. But i had to re-watch Aliens, followed by twister to clear Bill Paxton’s name.

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  • ACViking

    Re: Zach Kaplan’s Comment About the Fans

    Commenter Zach Kaplan remarked on the empty seats in the photo showing the Lions’ Hanson’s game-winning FG.

    In short, ZK said he’s a die-hard Eagles fan . . . but he thinks the fans (i) have lost their enthusiasm for the head coach (which I think implies that the HC can do no more with this team than he’s done since 2004), and (ii) don’t feel especially passionate about the players as a group (individual exceptions exist).
    _______________

    I think ZK has hit on something . . . and I remarked on it, using an analogy, before the Detroit game.

    The fans are emotionally tired when it comes to Reid. 13+ years, coupled with the the Eagles failure to appear to be challenging for a SB birth, has led the fans to feel a growing apathy.

    Not about the Eagles as an idea. But about the team under Andy Reid.

    I called that the “Stale Marriage.” Sure, lots of things are okay. But where’s the passionate love? (And AR is now reaping the harvest of the California cool he showed for so many years.)

    It’s almost like the fans have adopted Reid’s cool demeanor.

    As for the players, I think — at present — ZK’s right. A few players excite (McCoy, Cox, Kendricks, Ryans maybe) . . . but generally, the excitement’s not there right now.

    Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the Eagles’ teams were bad. The coaches were bad. The players, with a handful of exceptions, were bad. That’s when the fans garnered their reputation of being “Boo Birds” — and throwing snowballs at Santa.

    Now . . . as has been said in this comment string, home games hardly seem to give the Eagles the kind of advantage present back in the early Reid years.
    ________________

    I think, as I said before and ZK seems to say, many Eagles fans are just emotionally drained after 13+ years of AR. We love the *idea* of the team. But the relationship with this year’s flesh-and-blood Eagles just doesn’t generate the kind of sparks we’re used to seeking.

    But . . . bring in a new head coach with new ideas, new schemes, a different approach to the fans (but one who hopefully doesn’t blow up the team), and the fans will be fired up.

    Bring in a head coach who believes in punching the other team in the mouth on both sides of the ball, I think this city will be fired up again. (At least on 1 side of the ball . . . and “fastballs” off the edge on defense is not *punching* the other team in the mouth, IMO.)
    _________________

    I’m not advocating for Reid’s dismissal. But I get the empty seats and the ebbing emotions.

    • Steven Steiner

      This is it. I agree. I think the fans have grown so accustomed to certain things and it’s tiresome. This team has certain personality, and winning covers up everything, but the personality of the team for the past few years isn’t endearing to the fan base. Are teams have a finesse feel to them rather than a blue collar feel to them. I know that some of this is just media cliches, but there is a grain of truth there. Anyone who doesn’t think Andy is a football genius isn’t paying attention, but really that hasn’t added up to enough (i.e. Superbowl), so I think everyone is ready for some new philosophies and personalities. I am not saying bring back Buddy Ryan’s all swagger and no play-off wins, but something in between would be nice. I am not even saying firing Andy is the right thing to do, especially because of the type of person he seems to be (one more i.e. – i.e. Nice) – but for the first time I am questioning if the Eagles and Andy Reid can win a Superbowl together. I think Andy can definitely win one somewhere else…just not here in this version of the multi-verse. I will wish him luck wherever he ends up and hold no ill will toward him either.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1068177518 Tom Gryn

      The flipside to that is that there’s a whole generation of fans who think that 8-8 is a disaster and the worst that can actually happen. Hit them with an actual losing season, or even a losing streak beyond a couple of games, and things could get very ugly here quickly. I don’t envy the next coach’s position.

      The other thing is that every coach has his weaknesses. People assume that the next guy will be everything Reid is +, whatever they think needs fixing most: could be Reid + a smashmouth running game, or Reid + perfect in-game adjustments. Problem is, any new guy will have his own problems that he brings with him. With Rhodes, it was special teams, which never seemed to get fixed; with Buddy, it was the OL, with Kotite, bad drafting, etc.

  • Zachary Kaplan

    http://bloggingthebeast.com/2012/10/19/ive-seen-about-enough-of-michael-vick/

    I think Jimmy is taking my angry thoughts and putting them to good use. I couldn’t agree more that now is the time to switch.

    Vick isn’t a NFL QB in this day and age where accuracy and protecting the ball are premiums.

  • AP

    I certainly agree with the advice about Wilde. I hear she makes a mean omelette. She also helps Americans stick to their diets by teaching them how to fish for their own marlins.
    Tommy have you bested Dakota Fanning in a fair fight yet?

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