Eagles

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Thanks to Lane Johnson’s suspension and a few injuries, the Eagles' offensive line unit wasn’t what most expected it to be in 2016. Should things go according to plan on the O-line in 2017, expectations are high. For Pro Football Focus, they’re as high as it gets.

PFF ranked the Eagles’ O-line No. 1 in the entire league heading into this season, citing the fact that it has the “fewest holes.”

Center Jason Kelce is considered their biggest question mark, but even though his abilities have faded a bit with age, he hasn’t missed a snap in two seasons. That has to count for something.

Allen Barbre and second-year Eagle Brandon Brooks, who allowed just one sack last season, complete the line’s interior. Then, of course, the tackle tandem of Jason Peters and Lane Johnson is hard to beat. PFF says Johnson, when on the field, was the best right tackle last season. Johnson would agree.

Even beyond the first-team unit, the Eagles have experience. Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo both saw unexpected snaps as rookies last season because of the reshuffling. That should help moving forward.

Rounding out PFF’s top three are the Browns and Steelers. Cleveland boosted its corps by signing J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. The Steelers had the best unit during the second half of last season.

More notably for Eagles fans, the Cowboys come in at No. 9 in PFF’s rankings after owning one of the league’s best O-lines in recent years. Ronald Leary and Doug Free are gone, and La’el Collins’ move to right tackle is not a sure bet for success.

Washington sits two slots below at No. 11. PFF considers continuity the 'Skins' greatest strength — they return all five O-line starters from last season and four of five from 2015.

And the Giants, well, it’ll take some scrolling to reach their spot on the list: No. 28. Left tackle Ereck Flowers was the worst among his position in pressures allowed as a rookie. Eli Manning could be in for a busy season.

Brandon Brooks confident Jason Peters will be able to play RG

Brandon Brooks confident Jason Peters will be able to play RG

As Brandon Brooks recovers from a torn Achilles, he’s willing to give his replacement Jason Peters any help he can. 

He just doesn’t think Peters will need it. 

I always say with him, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, gold jacket man, every time I see him,” Brooks said on an Instagram Live with ProFootballFocus on Tuesday. “I give him a hard time all the time. I don’t even call him Jason Peters; I just call him Mr. Gold Jacket, as far as I’m concerned. 

“The thing with JP is, what hasn’t he done? What can’t he do? Made the transition from tight end to right tackle, Pro Bowl. From there he went to left tackle. As he told me, looking at his Pro Bowls and All-Pros is like counting to 10. If there’s anybody who can do it, it’s JP. 

“Definitely, anything he needs. Me to sit down and watch film with him, to talk about how I do things. I’ve already talked to him about that. Somebody of his caliber, I just sit back and let him do his thing. I’m sure he’s going to figure it out. He did it at both tackles. Not just for him, but even the young guys. Anything I can do to help the guys out, I’ll do.

Brooks tore his Achilles in June and is out for the 2020 season. But he also said he’s doing well in recovery and will get his boot off next Thursday and will then be able to ramp up his rehab. 

Instead of going with one of their younger options at right guard, the Eagles brought back 38-year-old Peters to switch positions and flip sides. After nearly a decade at left tackle, Peters will play right guard while Andre Dillard takes over his old spot. 

When asked if the transition from tackle to guard will be tougher in the run or pass game, Brooks said it was probably about even. But then he brought up how tough it can be to flip sides of the line, especially after years on the left. Because it’s really hard. 

But … 

“Like I said before, if anybody can do it, it’s him,” Brooks said. “When it comes to helping him out, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that transition as smooth as possible.”

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Carson Wentz excited about changes coming to Eagles offense in 2020

Carson Wentz excited about changes coming to Eagles offense in 2020

Carson Wentz seems genuinely excited about the changes coming to the Eagles offense in 2020. 

That’s a great sign. 

Because these changes were made with him in mind. 

This offseason, Doug Pederson tried to downplay the schematic changes coming to the Eagles’ offense by saying they probably wouldn’t be visible to the “naked eye.” But we’ll be able to see them. Because if the Eagles didn’t want change they wouldn’t have fired Mike Groh. They wouldn’t have promoted Press Taylor. And they damn sure wouldn’t have hired Rich Scangarello, Andrew Breiner and Marty Mornhinweg. 

The biggest addition this offseason is Scangarello, a Kyle Shanahan disciple, whose job will be to marry the run, play action game, bootlegs and naked bootlegs. 

I think some things will look a little different,” Wentz said on a Zoom call with reporters last week. “I’m really excited about it and I think it will really complement what we as an offense, who we are identity-wise. I think coaches really have a good grasp of who we are and how we can get the most out of me and out of the rest of the supporting cast.

Bringing in Scangarello was largely about Wentz. 

The Eagles looked at Wentz’s game and realized he’s at his best when he’s able to move in and out of the pocket and throw on the run. Even Pederson admitted that when they looked back they noticed that Wentz “excelled” at the play action, QB movement and in the screen game.  

The concepts Scangarello brings should match that really well. It’s probably the biggest reason he’s here … to maximize Wentz. 

The subtle changes Pederson has talked about this offseason — protections, play action, screens, run game — will all be on display when the Eagles finally start practices later this month. It’s a good sign that Wentz seems excited about it. 

Aside from Wentz’s excitement about the new concepts, it was also a good sign to hear him affectionately refer to Scangarello as “Coach Rich.” The relationship between these two men will be extremely important and they haven’t had a traditional offseason to get to know one another. Until recently, their relationship was an entirely virtual one. Remember, Wentz is entering his fifth year in the NFL and now here comes a new coach telling him what to do and how to change after an offseason where they couldn’t even meet in person. 

As long as Wentz realizes the changes Scangarello wants to implement are there to help him, that relationship should be able to blossom. 

In the last few months, the phrases we’ve heard used about Scangarello’s role is that he’s going to bridge the gap between the run and pass or marry the run game with the play action. 

Duce Staley summed up what that means: 

When you talk about marrying, meaning your taking the concepts, you’re making the play action look like the run and that has a lot to do with the quarterback marrying himself with the running back, from steps, eyes, protection and so on,” Staley said. “Rich definitely has been awesome. He’s been totally awesome, being able to stack some things for us, think different, make the room think different. It’s been good.

You can understand why the offensive coaches might want to downplay any changes coming to their scheme. They built this offense; heck, this is the offense that won a Super Bowl. But evolution in the NFL is natural and they needed to get better. This a way to get better by maximizing your franchise quarterback’s strengths. 

No one has worked closer with Wentz in his first four years in the NFL than Taylor, who has gone from assistant QBs coach to QBs coach to passing game coordinator/QBs coach this season. 

While Taylor echoed Pederson’s sentiment about the subtlety behind the offensive changes, he said Scangarello has been a great addition to the staff so far. 

“I feel like it can add to what we already do around here,” Taylor said. “Rich may have some different details for some of the things they’ve done or some different ideas of how to attack a certain defense, how to get guys in certain situations. That’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to add different experiences we feel like can take our 2020 Eagles offense to the next level.”

If Wentz buys in, they can do that. 

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