Eagles' offensive line rebounds from loss

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
3:15
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line was expected to be the best in the NFL this season, at least by the five men who line up in front of Michael Vick.

Ponder
Peters
Three games in, Vick has been pressured 48 times, the most among NFL quarterbacks according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has been sacked 11 times, more than anyone except Miami’s Ryan Tannehill.

So what’s happening? A lot of things.

“It depends on each individual situation,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “There's not one answer that is the answer.”

More than half the sacks, six, came in Thursday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles’ tackles, Jason Peters on the left and Lane Johnson on the right, simply couldn’t handle Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

“On paper, it looked like it worked against the Kansas City Chiefs,” center Jason Kelce said. “I would argue that if we don’t have as many turnovers and we don’t do as many things wrong, we’re still successful against KC. The way they did it put our tackles on an island. We’re still very confident we can put our tackles on an island and win most of those matchups.”

Peters dislocated a finger early in the game and struggled with his technique after having three fingers taped together.

“He was trying to block one of the outstanding rushers (Hali) in this league,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “There's some good plays and then every once in a while you have a bad play. He was dealing with a little nick on his hand. He's doing fine.”

Johnson, the rookie first-round pick, was overmatched at times and miscommunicated with guard Todd Herremans at times.

Kelly’s preference to have just five men in pass protection is one factor in the pressure on Vick so far.

“It’s a little more challenging,” Kelce said.

And then there is this:

Last season, every Eagles starter except left guard Evan Mathis suffered a season-ending injury. The return of Peters, Kelce and Herremans was the reason for that preseason swagger. But it also means all three are returning from serious leg injuries.

Of course, there is the matter of Vick himself. He is supposed to be making quicker decisions and getting rid of the ball faster in Kelly’s offense. But he occasionally falls back on old habits and holds it too long.

“It’s our job to protect,” Kelce said. “We know if we can give Mike enough time, he can take care of things.”

Ultimately, despite the breakdowns, the line has been part of a remarkably productive offense. That’s why Kelly is sticking with his five starters and expecting them to continue improving together.

The Eagles lead the NFL with 209 rushing yards per game. They are also averaging 253 passing yards and 26 points per game.

“Right now, we’re not sitting in our offensive staff room saying we're not getting a lot of production offensively,” Kelly said. “ I think we're running the ball very effectively and throwing the ball very effectively.”

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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