Eagles Wake-Up Call: The State Of the Offensive Line
One of the more intriguing aspects of free agency for the Eagles might have been a move they didn’t make.
On the first day of the new league year, the Birds were linked to right tackle Jake Long. Eventually, Long ended up signing a four-year, $34 million deal with the Rams that includes up to $20 million in guaranteed money if he stays healthy.
The Eagles also expressed interested in right tackle Eric Winston once he was cut by the Chiefs. Les Bowen of the Daily News reports that the team has a number it’s willing to sign Winston at, and a deal is still possible, depending on what he gets offered elsewhere.
So what does all this mean for the current players on the roster?
Football Outsiders tracks a stat called Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) Here’s their definition:
Measurement of the cost of injuries, both in terms of missed games and games where players were not able to play to their full potential. Estimates a number of games based on whether players are listed as Probable, Questionable, Doubtful, or Out.
In other words, it measures how badly teams were hurt by injuries compared to others around the league. We know Jason Peters missed the entire season, Todd Herremans missed eight games and Jason Kelce missed 14. But the metric shows just how devastating those injuries were.
The Eagles’ offensive line AGL was 42.6; that’s the highest number for a team since the site started tracking the stat 11 years ago.
The bad news is those injuries helped pave the way for a 4-12 season. The good news is it’s reasonable to expect improved health in 2013. Herremans told the Wilmington News-Journal recently that he doesn’t anticipate missing any offseason activities as he recovers from an ankle/foot injury. He had missed just five games the previous six seasons.
Jason Kelce has been rehabbing a torn ACL all offseason. He suffered his injury in the second game of the season and had surgery in October. And by all accounts, Jason Peters is doing well after injuring (and then re-injuring) his Achilles’.
Going forward, the two areas in need of an upgrade are right guard and depth. The Eagles are unlikely to go into the spring projecting Danny Watkins as a starter. If the former first-round pick surprises, great. But the team can’t be counting on that at this point.
The idea of moving Herremans back inside seems to definitely be in play, given the team’s interest in Long. Perhaps they’ll still sign a right tackle, or more likely, they could take one with the No. 4 pick (Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher).
The other option would be to sign or draft a starting-caliber right guard and keep Herremans at tackle.
And finally, the team needs to address depth. The Eagle have bodies: Dennis Kelly, Matt Kopa, Nate Menkin, Matt Tennant, Dallas Reynolds – but they’ll all be expected to compete for roster spots in 2013.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles were awarded a seventh-round compensatory pick. T-Mac has the breakdown of all their selections.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie told McManus that Nick Foles is going to have a great opportunity to compete.
Prior to going to West Virginia to see Geno Smith, Lurie had not attended a private workout since 1999 when he watched Donovan McNabb.
Chip Kelly’s history of using a rotation on defense helps explain the Connor Barwin signing.
Who will the Eagles take with the No. 4 pick? Here’s your mock draft roundup.
And finally, an All-22 breakdown of new wide receiver Arrelious Benn.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
SI.com’s Peter King called the James Casey signing the second-best deal of free agency:
“With coach [Chip] Kelly coming in here, I thought it was a great fit for me,” Casey said upon signing. Truest words of the week. Recruited to Rice as a quarterback, Casey became an all-purpose back and tight end, and played numerous special teams for Houston. The way Kelly will use Casey (52 catches, 11.3 yards per catch in 969 snaps in Houston over the past two years) is the way the Patriots use their tight ends, and the way San Francisco used Delanie Walker last year: everywhere.
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com looks at the Eagles’ QB situation:
But having seen the inconsistent turnover-prone, injury-prone Vick too much over the past two years, we have no choice but to cast him into the “question mark” category. Kelly can dream and scheme and imagine all that Vick can do with the help of his fresh offensive concepts, but he can’t be sure Vick will be able to run the offense responsibly, make the right decisions under fire, protect the ball or keep himself from getting hurt. No one can. That’s who Vick is, and that’s what you accept when you take on Vick as your starting quarterback.
This isn’t news to Kelly, and that’s why you’re starting to hear rumblings about the Eagles poking around West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who could be theirs for the taking with the No. 4 pick in the draft.
T-Mac will have all aspects of the owners’ meetings in Phoenix covered, plus some free agency and draft nuggets.
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