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Philadelphia Eagles offensive line needs more continuity in 2015

It all starts up front.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles dealt with a lot of offensive line issues in 2014. But they weren't alone. In fact, according to a study by Football Outsiders, there wasn't a single team in the NFL that started the same five offensive linemen in all 16 regular-season games.

In 2013, the Eagles actually managed to have all five starters in place through the entire season (plus a playoff game). As a result, Philadelphia's offense greatly benefited. LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing and Nick Foles posted an impressive 27 touchdown to two interception ratio.

The 2014 season didn't nearly follow the same script. The offensive line issues started in the offseason when it was announced Lane Johnson would serve a four-game suspension. Then his replacement, veteran Allen Barbre, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. Evan Mathis would also leave the season opener with an injury that landed him on the injured reserve, designated to return list. Center Jason Kelce suffered a groin injury in Week 3 that sidelined him. A less-than-100% Matt Tobin wasn't able to return to the field until Week 4 after suffering a nasty high ankle injury in the preseason finale. Then it was right guard Todd Herremans who tore his biceps just one week before Mathis returned.

Some of this could be called bad luck, but some of it could also be due to the fact the Eagles have one of the oldest offensive lines in the league. Either way, the 2014 continuity was a huge drop-off from their 2013 stability. Per Football Outsiders' OL continuity score metric, the Eagles suffered the second biggest decline in the NFL. They didn't quite have the worst continuity score in the NFL, but it was closer to the bottom than it was the top.

It's been interesting to see how the Eagles haven't used the offensive line issues as an excuse for struggling performances in 2014. Neither Foles nor McCoy came close to replicating 2013 form last season and now they've both been replaced.

Moving forward, it's imperative that the Eagles find a way to keep their offensive line stable. Especially since the team will have at least one new starting guard, and possibly two depending on what becomes of the Evan Mathis situation. It seems likely the Eagles will add at least one offensive lineman through the draft, and maybe as soon as the first round.

The Eagles' offense was in peak form under Chip Kelly when the line was healthy and the run game was nearly unstoppable. The team addressed the running back position this offseason by signing 2014 leading rushing DeMarco Murray and former first round pick Ryan Mathews to add to veteran scatback Darren Sproles. These are all talented players but it goes without saying they'll still need blocking up front to make it all work.

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