Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Center Of the Offense

Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports.

Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy (USA TODAY Sports).

Jason Kelce isn’t sure you understand. Yes, you know about the quarterback’s audibles before plays, but he’s not confident you realize the importance of the center’s pre-snap calls.

“I don’t know if the fans know, but it’s a really big part of my job,” Kelce said. “Mentally, if you’re on top of your game, the physical stuff is a lot easier.”

He explains he doesn’t want to give any secrets away, but he does reveal what he looks for in a defense before he snaps the ball. First, he reads the way the defense is aligned. Then, he reads how the defenders are spaced relative to the Eagles’ formation and play call.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: What They See In Tobin, Barbre

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

During an interview session with reporters last month, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was asked about the luxury of having stability at both tackle spots and center.

“The other player that I really think is underrated is Allen Barbre,” he responded. “Allen Barbre is a really good player. We have a lot of confidence in him and his abilities.”

This has been the general sentiment shared by all parties at the NovaCare Complex – Stoutland, Chip KellyJason Peters, etc.

Barbre has started just eight games in seven NFL seasons. In two years with the Eagles, he has played 122 snaps. Yet whatever he’s doing at practice, in the weight room and at meetings has teammates and coaches convinced he’s ready for a starting role. Remember, Barbre was penciled in as a starter after the Eagles released Todd Herremans. He’ll just move to the more comfortable left side now that Evan Mathis is no longer in the mix. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Can Lane Johnson Make the Leap?

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

In some ways, Lane Johnson has become a forgotten man on the Eagles offensive line.

Jason Kelce has emerged as a team spokesman of sorts. Jason Peters gets national accolades every year. And there’s been plenty of talk about Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin, guys who will be asked to take on bigger roles in 2015.

Many expected Johnson to make the second-year leap in 2014, but he was suspended for the first four games of the season and couldn’t even be in the team facility until the end of September.

“You could tell in the first game that he had been away from it a little bit in the Rams game,” said offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. “And then you could see as the year went on he progressively improved and got better.”

Johnson improved in pass protection, and while he was fine as a run blocker, he’s yet to become a consistent, dominating force. This offseason, he decided to try something new, spending time at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center in West Hollywood, Calif. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Eagles Still Leaning On Peters

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

At center and right tackle, the Eagles have two young, ascending players in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson.

At right guard and left guard, we know they’re going into the season with question marks in Allen Barbre and either Matt TobinAndrew Gardner or Dennis Kelly.

Then there’s left tackle.

At 33, Jason Peters is still the guy that everyone looks up to. Is he the same player he was four or five years ago? Probably not. But coaches and teammates still are in awe when they witness Peters’ athleticism and power up close. Read more »

Three Eagles Leftovers: On Barbre, Maxwell And Hicks

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

From Allen Barbre’s comfort level to Byron Maxwell’s role to a Jordan Hicks-DeMeco Ryans comparison, here are three Eagles leftovers.

1. We know that the Eagles will enter 2015 with at least one new offensive line starter at right guard. And depending on what happens with Evan Mathis, that number could be two.

One of the players who has been talked up quite a bit is Allen Barbre. Barbre has started a grand total of eight games in seven seasons, including one with the Eagles. But if the Birds had to play a game tomorrow, chances are he’d be in the starting lineup.

While many assume there’s not much of a difference when it comes to a player lining up on the left side as opposed to the right side, that’s not always the case.

Asked how Barbre looks on the left side, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said: “Better than on the right. He’s a lot more comfortable. I think he’s been a left-side player for a long time. He was not generally on the right. We moved him on the right last year because we needed him to play multiple positions. But he had always been more comfortable as a left-side player by far. Ask him that right now. He’ll tell you that.” Read more »

Malcolm Bunche: ‘I Have An Opportunity’

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Forty-six offensive linemen came off the board during the 2015 NFL Draft. Zero were selected by the Eagles.

While that fact might bring concern to some, for a select few it has delivered opportunity.

Malcolm Bunche called it a “blessing in disguise.” He is one of the offensive linemen the team brought in as an undrafted free agent, and will have a chance to earn a roster spot this summer. He is not the first member of his family to don Eagle green. His father, Curtis, was drafted by the Eagles in the seventh round in 1979 and was “elated” when he learned about his son signing with his former team. Read more »

Inside Zone: The Foundation Of the Eagles’ Offense

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Before the drill begins, Jeff Stoutland shouts out a two-digit number, signaling the call to his offensive linemen.

He sets up a couple yards behind the line of scrimmage as Jason Kelce prepares to snap the ball, flanked by guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. With 16 offensive linemen in camp, Stoutland is in charge of the largest positional group on the roster. But that can be a good thing on days like this. Before it’s their turn for reps, a couple backups hold orange blocking pads and set up as down defensive linemen. Two more stand behind them imitating linebackers.

It’s an 81-degree day in early June, and the Eagles are on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex working on the blocking scheme for a familiar call: the inside zone. It’s a play Stoutland ran frequently at his previous stop, Alabama. And it was Chip Kelly’s go-to-work play during his time at Oregon.

When Kelly made the jump to the NFL last year, the inside zone served as the foundation for an offense that set franchise records in yards and points. So there’s a good reason why Stoutland yells the same number for the same call over and over again during practice. The pre-snap communication has to be mastered. The footwork has to be flawless. The combination blocks have to be executed. And the second-level linebackers have to be driven down the field with authority.

“It’s something we work on every day,” said offensive tackle Lane Johnson. “It’s always gonna be our bread and butter.” Read more »

Bamiro, Now At Guard, Fighting For Spot

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Michael Bamiro spent a large portion of Monday’s OTA holding a rectangular orange blocking pad. As one of 16 offensive linemen competing for about half as many spots, it acted as his entry pass so he too could jump into drills and prove to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland he’s more than just a practice player.

“I’m really just doing whatever I can to get myself on that field,” Bamiro said. Read more »

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