Eagles Wake-Up Call: The State Of the O-Line

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

On the final day of Eagles minicamp, veteran Todd Herremans was asked if he thought it was realistic for the team to start the same five offensive linemen every game like it did last year.

“Yeah, I think it’s very realistic,” Herremans said. “I know it only happened one other time since I’ve been here, but like I was saying earlier, the way that we take care of our bodies and stuff, I think we were very limited with guys in the training room last year. I don’t think it was a coincidence.”




But if yesterday's news (T-Mac has the latest here) about Lane Johnson holds up, there will be no repeat performance for all 16 games.

Johnson missing the first four weeks would certainly be a blow for a team looking to build on its offensive success from a year ago. If Allen Barbre can step in and perform adequately, it might not be a devastating blow. But Johnson is only 24 and an ascending player. Some of the mental mistakes he made last year were masked because of his freakish athleticism. And his absence leads to some bigger questions for Chip Kelly and company.

Most notably: What happens if someone else goes down? Assuming Barbre steps in at right tackle (and that's the most likely scenario), the Eagles will go into the season with four of five starters north of 30-years-old. The team signed Barbre to an extension because he can play either guard or tackle. But losing another starter between now and Week 4 would be devastating. As we noted yesterday, depth up front is a serious issue.

Suddenly, guys like Dennis Kelly, Michael Bamiro and Matt Tobin have added value. Kelly and Bamiro practiced at both guard and tackle in the spring. As Kelly likes to say, they could now be just one chinstrap away from getting on the field. Tobin backed up Jason Peters in the spring at left tackle. The same can probably also be said for him.

And Kelly will face a new challenge when players return later this month. The head coach is obsessed about getting enough reps during practice. But when training camp starts, will Johnson line up with the first team? Or will Barbre mix in? There's no denying that cohesiveness on the offensive line is critical, and some within the organization have pointed out that it took Johnson and Herremans a little while to get on the same page last year. They were playing together for the first time, and that's part of the reason why many of the Eagles' issues in protection came on the right side.

Players and coaches joked last month about how it had been a drama-free spring after the DeSean Jackson release. But assuming the Johnson suspension holds up, the Eagles have their first real obstacle of the 2014 season.

WHAT YOU MISSED

A league spokesman tells T-Mac no suspension has been handed down yet, but it could very well be coming.

I took a stab at projecting the Eagles depth chart on offense.

"When that monster comes along and you're in a position to acquire him, you acquire him." McManus with three leftovers from Billy Davis.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly suggests Rob Bironas could be an option to replace Alex Henery:

There’s also the chance that Henery legs out Spear in the competition but is still replaced by a free agent. One name to watch: Rod Bironas. The veteran kicker was released in March by Tennessee after a pretty good 2014 season, just not good enough to cost $2.875 million against the Titans’ cap along with collecting a $250,000 roster bonus.

Bironas, a 2007 Pro Bowler and All Pro, made 25 of his 29 attempts last year, including 7 of 10 from at least 40 yards. The problem is, the 31-year-old Bironas might be turning into an older version of Henery. His touchback rate has dipped three straight years. He went from 50 percent in 2012 to 38.6 in 2013, a steep dropoff. There’s a good chance that cutting Henery and replacing him with Bironas doesn’t solve the kickoff issue, although it could give the Eagles more reliability on field-goal attempts.

Bob Brookover of The Inquirer thinks the Eagles' defense can improve because of the 2012 draft class:

It's important to remember, of course, that Boykin, Kendricks, and the rest of the defense had to learn a new system last year. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis introduced a 3-4 defense, and Kendricks said it wasn't until the middle of last season that everything started to click for him individually and for the defense as a whole.

"This may not run well with a whole lot of people, but I consider last year my first year, just personally," Kendricks said. "My first year wasn't really one to remember in terms of personal achievements. Even though I had a great time with the whole experience . . . it wasn't until the second year that I really had fun and felt like I made a difference with my play. I felt like I did what I got drafted to do."

COMING UP

We'll take a stab at projecting the depth chart on defense.

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  • DirtyWaters

    I wish Dorenbos would make this suspension disappear.

    • DarleneCartangyf

      as
      Thelma explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in
      four weeks on the internet . more info here R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

      • John E. Zang

        Wait what did Thelma explain? I haven’t seen Thelma on here. And no one likes “Thelma” anyway. Can’t trust her.

        • myeaglescantwin

          Jinkies !!
          that broad from Scubbie-Do never gets any play.
          I figured she could have just sat back and collected royalties.

          Now she’s a stay at home mom trying to make some scratch.. and it’s all because of those meddling kids!!

      • JosephR2225

        Thelma spiked Lane’s smoothie. Mara paid her $7420 to slip in a banned substance.

    • http://www.idonthaveawebsite.com theedevilsadvocate

      only jordan mathews could make this happen.

  • Eagle&DuckFan

    Somehow, somewhere, this is Casey Mathews’ fault.

  • Dominik

    I hope soooooo much that Mosher is right with that one.

    • guest

      What…about Bironas being an older version of Henery? Yeah, he’s probably right with that one.

      • Dominik

        In his career, Bironas has a season worst longest FG of 51. That’s Henerys career long. He wasn’t worth 2,8m, granted, but nobody will ever have the idea to give Henery this kind of contract in the first place. Noodle legs don’t get contracts like that.

        Bironas may not be the real deal. But there’s at least a chance he’s decent with FGs and Kickoffs…

    • myeaglescantwin

      Mosher spits out nothing but opinions and options which have no effect or recourse for this team. I dislike most of his articles.

      that being said,

      HE JUST GOT MY HOPES RAISED SOOOOO MUCH!!
      what do we fans need to do to make this happen?!

      • obsolete vernacular

        Yeah, Mosher called him ROD Bironas, so you know he’s done his research.

  • cliff henny

    Chip, 1st 4 games…RUN LEFT!

    • NickS1

      I mean, that’s the All Pro side of the line anyway. Should have been the bulk of the runs anyway.

      • cliff henny

        yeah, it stinks, but …
        1. it happened early enough Barbre should be able to get ready
        2. it’s not JP, Evan or Kelce
        3. get all of training camp, not blown knee, shouldn’t set his progress back.
        but, on the flip side
        1. got to be kidding me! have these guys p’g in cups hourly, run a test once a month, especially when they 1st come back to town.
        2. hate to ask, best to speculate after we know what he got popped for comes out, but he went from nowhere nobody to somewhere somebody in 2 yrs, was that all him or did he have some help.
        .
        see if it’s something light, or if he was taking the spike

        • John Paine

          Obviously, I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine that if a team does their own piss testing that they’d be required by rule to notify the league if a player comes up hot. You can’t have players failing piss tests and then having it come out that the team tested him and knew 2 months before. So I doubt that the team testing would help at all.

          • cliff henny

            actually, makes sense, or it should be that way. i’ll counter, i’d send my own in to independent tester. makes no sense to me why a guy making 5m a yr pisses hot. CHEAT CORRECTLY!

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            If ya ain’t cheatin’ ya ain’t tryin’

          • Amar

            Say that to Daryl Washington and the Arizona Cardinals, who will be without their starting LB and Locker room leader for 2014 season.

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            True. My point is really about how many guys are doing the same, just beating the test.

            Hint: a lot

          • Amar

            The risk is too high, my friend. Whatever little advantage they gain is all down the drain when (or If) they get caught.

    • Amar

      During passing downs, 2 pump fakes to the right.

  • NickS1

    Come on false positive…

  • OMGitsWes

    Why can’t we just stick JMatt in for LJ?

  • MoreRecentTimes

    How bout we just sign Kickalicious and be done with it. Donnie Long ball and he would form the Globetrotters of Special Teams. In the off season, they could tour youth camps by day. And by night, act like drunken Irishmen, showing off their ball tricks.

  • Dell24

    Perhaps it was growth hormone ingested at Del Frisco’s from the steaks? It was the steer that was juicing, not him.

    • Eagles1018

      Which is why Chip wants guys sticking to the shakes from the cafeteria…smh

  • Max Lightfoot

    I think Barbre will do a reasonably good job filling in. Obviously Johnson did a real dumb thing, but lots of basically good people do stupid things. Go Eags!