Saturday, October 15, 2011
On the Eagles' banged-up offensive line
By Dan Graziano
For all of the talk of their poor pass protection, the Philadelphia Eagles have allowed just seven sacks this season. Only three teams -- the Lions, Raiders and Bills -- have allowed fewer. But for a couple of reasons, the test gets much tougher Sunday when the Eagles travel to Washington. The Redskins lead the league with 3.75 sacks per game, and the Eagles' offensive line is... not in good shape.
Starting left tackle Jason Peters is set to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury, and King Dunlap, who filled in nicely for Peters last week, injured his back in practice and may have to miss the game as well. That could force the Eagles to swing right tackle Todd Herremans (who was the left guard in training camp, you may remember) to left tackle and insert Winston Justice, who has yet to play this season because of his own knee-injury issues, back into his old right tackle spot:
"It seems like every week he's getting a little bit better and feeling more comfortable," Reid said. "He deserves the opportunity to play if that presents itself."
Justice said he's put in extra time over the past few weeks with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd, whose scheme is dramatically different than what Justice played in under former offensive line coach Juan Castillo, now the team's defensive coordinator.
"It's always a little bit uncomfortable at first to try something new," he said. "But I think I feel comfortable."
That's what the Eagles are likely working with this week against the sack-happy duo of Washington linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. And that stat about the Eagles only allowing seven sacks doesn't really tell the whole story, does it? There have been a few times when quarterback Michael Vick would have been wiser to take a sack than to make a throw that ended up intercepted, or scramble around and end up fumbling. And even on plays when he hasn't been sacked, Vick has taken quite a few hits this year. None of that is likely to get any easier Sunday, especially with the Eagles playing shorthanded on the outside of the offensive line.