The Eagles’ offensive line was a big reason the team had a big parade down Broad Street in February.
Through four games this year, they haven’t played anywhere near that standard.
“There’s been times where we’ve been called the best line in the league,” right tackle Lane Johnson said, “and now we’re looking like we’re not the best line in the league.”
Johnson said he didn’t know if the Eagles’ were the best OL in the NFL. At the quarter pole of the season, they certainly don’t look like it … and for a few reasons.
Jason Peters’ quad is still bothering him. Jason Kelce is clearly hobbled by something, even though the team won’t admit it. Brandon Brooks has been solid, but his communication with Johnson hasn’t been completely smooth. And Johnson set the bar so high for himself last season, he hasn’t been able to match it. The weak spot of the OL so far is left guard Stefen Wisniewski, who played well last season but is likely on a much shorter leash than most people realize.
Coming into 2018, Eagles fans and folks around the league had high expectations for the Eagles’ offensive line.
“The reality is, we have high expectations because we performed well here in the past,” Kelce said. “We had a great season last year. In order to do that, we know the attention to detail has to be on point. We know we have to be on the same page, the communication has to be there, the technique has to be there.
“And it’s really not far off. If you watch the game, it’s not like there’s one guy getting beat over and over and over again. This is missed assignment here, bad point there. But it culminates to a very sloppy performance by the offensive line and by the offense.”
Howie Roseman strategically built this team with a focus on both lines. He clearly identified that was the way to build a successful football team and went all in on the defensive line and offensive line. Both were strengths in last year’s Super Bowl run.
And it’s no secret that when the Eagles’ offensive line plays well, the offense hums. That’s why it’s no surprise that as the offensive line has sputtered, the entire offense has sputtered with it.
Even Johnson admitted he isn’t playing to his normal standard. Although he pointed out that aside from the sack he gave up against the Titans, he played pretty well. But he knows that’s reality for an offensive lineman.
Kelce said it’s all about consistency. And right now, they’re not being consistent.
The Eagles haven’t gotten the most out of their run game and, more importantly, the line has failed to protect Carson Wentz. All the blame in blitz pickup doesn’t fall on the OL, but it certainly starts with them. And so far, they just simply haven’t lived up to expectations.
“At the end of the day, we’re all human,” Johnson said. “There are no robots, there are no Greek gods, except Jason Peters in a couple years when he gets his gold jacket. At the end of the day, all we can do is the best that we can. I think when we look at expectations or try to live up to that or who you’re meant to be, it doesn’t allow you to play your best. I think moving forward, we just need to be the Eagles’ offensive line.”
As a team, the Eagles desperately need that too.