Eagles Wake-Up Call: O-Line Carries Offense
The Eagles’ offensive line presented a plethora of problems to Chip Kelly in the first four weeks of the season, allowing five sacks against Washington and limiting their running backs to -2 rushing yards against Dallas.
But those all washed away — at least for a few hours at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday — as the offensive line dominated in the Eagles’ 39-17 win over the Saints.
“Those guys were unbelievable,” Bradford said. “You could really tell that they were just wearing them down, with the way we were able to start running the football at the end of the game. Those guys dominated the line of scrimmage.”
The offensive line paved the way for Philadelphia’s 186 yards on the ground, and gave Sam Bradford plenty of time to chip in 333 yards through the air. DeMarco Murray nearly doubled his season total for rushing yards, while Ryan Mathews shattered his season-high for yards per carry.
That change, according to Jason Kelce, can be attributed to a new offensive line mantra: “Not my man.”
“That was the mentality today was don’t let your man make the play,” Kelce said. “That was the biggest difference.”
That motto clearly manifested in the center, who turned in his best performance of the season and initiated a domino effect causing other offensive linemen to do the same.
“It all starts with Kelce,” Matt Tobin said. “He did great and made some awesome calls. He got them out early so there was time for us all to get on the same page.”
Although he allowed penetration on a few run plays, Tobin also appeared to play his best game of the season. He and Lane Johnson did a great job of handling stunts in pass protection, which Johnson attributed to New Orleans’ tell. The Eagles’ offensive line noticed that when linebacker Kasim Edebali lined up inside of defensive end Cameron Jordan, a twist was coming.
That outstanding pass protection allowed Bradford to find Josh Huff for a 41-yard touchdown pass and Brent Celek for a 13-yard touchdown toss. Their run blocking also helped Bradford’s targets get open.
“Our efficiency on first and second down was key today,” Bradford said. “We had a lot of positive plays on first down that got us into second-and-medium, second-and-short. And when we can put ourselves in that situation, the playbook really opens up and we can keep the defense off balance. They know that it’s not always going to be a pass.”
The Eagles had much more success on early downs against the Saints than in previous games, in part because of Murray’s 83 rushing yards and Mathews’ 73 rushing yards. The duo also scored a touchdown each.
Although the offensive line still has plenty of room to grow, the unit hopes they can use yesterday’s win as a stepping stone.
“Everybody has obviously been ashamed of the way that we’ve been playing,” Kelce said. “The fact is that we have the quarterbacks, we have the running backs and we have the skill players to go out there and win games on offense. To come out here, continue to work, actually see some benefits on the field [and] have a good game on the ground, that’s huge for our confidence.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sam Bradford held an impromptu pre-game meeting in the bathroom.
A look at a dominating performance from the Eagles’ defense and Bradford’s uneven showing.
“Fletcher Cox was a monster.” Tim’s instant observations from yesterday’s Eagles’ win.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor was impressed with what he saw from the Birds in their biggest win of the season.
Still, I thought the team looked different. They were more aggressive. The offense looked in sync. The defense was mostly outstanding, but gave up a few big plays that need to be cleaned up.
The Eagles looked comfortable today. They weren’t playing scared. They weren’t nervous.
Chip Kelly changed for the good of his team, and it showed in a big win, writes Bob Ford.
Against the Saints, Kelly did something that spoke a lot louder than his previous words. He didn’t just change what he said. He changed what he’s been doing. With a nod to the state of the offensive line, he had the team do more basic, straight-ahead blocking than it has been doing. With the need to get the running game heading downhill, he put quarterback Sam Bradford under center more often. Recognizing that protecting Bradford and strengthening the line was vital, he put two tight ends on the field far more than in the previous games.
Chip Kelly will address the media at 1 p.m.