So I'm going to take a look at our offensive line, I'm very excited about what we have along the front lines this year I really think if our Unit comes together we will have the best OL in football and it won't be close.
Just as a quick overview I'm going to go over what Howard Mudd's system is, what he looks for in an OLman, dispelling the "small guys" theory, who our best options are to start and the primary backups.
(Note: I won't hit every OLman on the roster, there will be guys left out... That's because I don't think they'll make the team but I'll have a PS section at the end)
I've always liked watching Mudd's and Castillo's OL's. They're technically sound, they're disciplined and they work as a unit when all pieces are healthy.. The big difference is that Castillo's system in pass blocking was to make the first step backwards and await contact, absorb and protect. Mudd tells his OLman to explode out, shock the DLman on both pass and run plays, then on pass plays they retreat a little bit, Mudd gives up no ground.
The system Mudd runs is a bit of a mix between a power running game and a Zone Blocking Scheme (ZBS from now on in here). When needed and on certain plays he'll have his OLman hammer away pretty much how the Eagles have for years, now the difference comes in the ZBS quality's he brings in, this is more of a RB friendly system, basically 2 guys are responsible for 2 guys (most of the time a LB and DLman) they make sure they get the DLman back and depending on which way that LB will flow dictates which OLman take him, the RB flows right the RG gets him, if he flows left the C gets him, whoever's left handles the DLman. (I can explain more in the comment section if you have specific questions, there's just so much to go over I could literally write 100 page paper on it and barely scratch the surface).
Now with this system you're going to have multiples holes on every running play, this basically means that the McCoy will have to read the holes and hit them fast, I don't think he'll have a problem with this because of the type of RB he is and I also believe he's the most talented RB I've ever seen in a ZBS. This system if run right can make superstars out of bums (Look at Shanahan in Denver if you need proof).
So wild_eagle, what does Mudd look for in his OLmen?
Well I don't think it's so much what Mudd looks for as it is who fits the system. In order to run the ZBS you have to have more athletic OLman, you need guys who can get to the 2nd level over and over, and you need guys who can take care of DLman 1 on 1. You even need guys who can get into the secondary when the opportunity arises.
Basically Mudd's looking for quick, fast, nasty and effective OLman. He wants some badass motherfuckers up front and he doesn't care if you're Desean Jackson's size as long as you lay a whoopin' on somebody. He needs guys who fit his system and he has an a lot of those here in Philly.
So wild_eagle Mudd likes smaller OLman?
My answer is no. Big guys can move quickly and be athletic, look at Peters, Herremans, Watkins, Justice, Mathis, Vandervelde and even Harris/Justice... They're not small guys by any means yet they're athletic and good blockers. Now if you don't believe me let's go over a few guys Mudd's coached over the years:
- Terik Glenn (1998), he played LT, he was 6'5 332lbs.
- Steve McKinney (1998), He played LT, he was 6'4 305lbs.
- Tony Mandarich (1998), He played RG, he was 6'5 324lbs.
- Waverly Jackson (1999), He played RG, He was 6'2 343lbs.
- Adam Meadows (1999), He played RT, He was 6'5 290lbs.
- Ryan Diem (2001), He played RG/RT, he's 6'6 320lbs.
- Rick DeMulling (2002), He played RG, he's 6'4 304lbs.
- Steve Sciullo (2003), He played RG, he's 6'5 325lbs.
This above is a small sample size, basically with the exception Jeff Saturday and Ryan Lijia his guys were big or average size for NFL offensive Lineman.
Who do we keep? (Starters and Backups)
LT- Jason Peters- 4 straight probowls, one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. He truly needs no explanation.
LG- Todd Herremans- One of the most underrated players in the NFL, he and Peters took over games at times last season and opened holes for McCoy. He needs no explanation.
C- Jason Kelce- To be honest, if he's already splitting starter reps with Jackson that's good and bad news. Good news is that Kelce is lighting it up, bad news is that if he causes enough waves the choice between Jackson and Kelce will probably come down to money and Jackson costs much more than Kelce and he's on the wrong side of 30 (Short answer Jackson's a typical Eagles casualty once somebody shows they can replace him). This is ok, I liked Kelce coming out, I thought he was small but the guy did a good job against the Ravens. I think as he gets more playing time we'll see him slowly take over.
RG- Danny Watkins- 1st round pick last April, he's 26-27 years old, I personally love the guy and wanted him and even said how he was the best looking interior OLman and would be a high first if he wasn't older. I'm glad we got him. He really needs no justification as to why he's starting here, he's going to be a probowl caliber player for us very soon.
RT- Ryan Harris- I loved the Ryan Harris signing, I talked about him earlier this offseason but completely lost him in the Free's, Trueblood's and Gaither's out there. He's younger than all those guys, he's more athletic than all those guys and if he can stay healthy he's better than all those guys. He has the athletic ability to protect Vick's blindside and he's a good run blocker, him and Watkins could really do the type of damage Herremans and Peters do.
OT- Winston Justice- In this day and age you need a good backup, Justice is a solid starter so I'd consider him great depth. He'll be able to swing to LT or RT and we know he'll be good enough. This is a good move to keep him because of Harris's injury history, also he'll give us the opportunity to cut Dunlap who was awful against the Ravens.
OG- Evan Mathis- Mathis is what I call great depth once again. He honestly wasn't used much in Cincy and nobody knows why and yes I know the stats on how he was so great but honestly those are skewed by his lack of playing time. But I'll admit he's a good OG, he's athletic, he's strong and he knows his role. He's a good guy to have behind Watkins and Herremans because I know if (god forbid) one of them go down then he'll step in and play like a starter.
OG/C- Mike McGlynn- Mike's good depth also, he's a scrappy guy and will do what needs to be done. Last year being thrust into the starting Center position after never playing it before in his life he kinda had to learn on the fly throughout the preseason. I think he did a good job as the starter last season and was pulling for him but I didn't expect Kelce to be so good so fast, I thought it was gonna take a season or two for him to emerge. Anyway with McGlynn as a backup and Kelce as the starter this allows the Eagles to dump or trade Jamaal with a good insurance plan for Kelce.
Guys battling for the last spot:
OG- Julian Vandervelde- He really hasn't impressed me, I don't think he'll make the team but he may turn it on. It's between him and Dunlap for the final spot.
OT- King Dunlap- He looked terrible in the Ravens game. Hopefully he rights the ship, I think the Eagles only carry 8-9 OLmen. He has to prove his worth.
This season is going to be a fun one, it all starts up front and the DL and OL must do their jobs and win the battle of the trenches. We win the battle of the trenches and give Vick some time and pressure the opposing QB then we're going to win a lot of games.. If our OL comes together and can mesh they'll be an unstoppable unit, I've seen the guys Mudd's worked with in the past and I don't think he's ever had this much talent on 1 offensive line. Our guys are big, they're fast and they're strong and best of all they're all scrappy and will do what it takes to protect their teammates, I think this run is going to depend more on the OL than anything, they're where it starts, they're going to dictate this season. And as my final words I leave you this quote I posted on my last post about the DL:
"Only 7% of drives that contain sacks end in TDs"
This is based on last season. And it's one of the most telling stats for a team. Let's protect Vick, and let's kill opposing QB's. If we do we'll dominate.