OL Review: How Did Bell And Reynolds Hold Up?
Here’s a review of how the Eagles offensive linemen performed after re-watching Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
King Dunlap – He suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter, trying to get to Ray Lewis on a LeSean McCoy run to the left side. Overall, the Eagles were much better in pass protection than Week 1. The only issue I saw for Dunlap was when he couldn’t hold his block against Courtney Upshaw, who got past him and chased Michael Vick out of the pocket on his first interception. Run-blocking has never been Dunlap’s strength. He got called for holding Haloti Ngata on a McCoy run in the first. And Dunlap couldn’t hold his block on a McCoy run that was stopped for no gain. On the flip side, he had a decent block on Damaris Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first.
Evan Mathis – He got called for two penalties – a holding and a false start – but other than that, Mathis played a good game. He had some really good moments in the run game, specifically. Mathis did a nice job of getting to Lewis on Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first. He blocked the linebacker on McCoy’s touchdown run in the first. He did a good job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second and again on an 11-yard run in the fourth. Mathis also threw the key block on the linebacker on Vick’s game-winning touchdown. In protection, he held up well. Mathis did a nice job one-on-one against Ngata on Vick’s 18-yard completion to DeSean Jackson in the second. The holding penalty I mentioned occurred when a rusher got past him and McCoy in the fourth.
Jason Kelce – He suffered the knee injury on a McCoy run where Ravens safety Ed Reed dove for the running back, but hit Kelce low instead. Kelce was really playing a good game up to that point. I didn’t notice any breakdowns in protection. And he’s been excellent in the run game. Kelce made a good block on Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first. And again on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 carry. He also did a good job on McCoy’s touchdown run and his 7-yard run in the second. We’ll find out if he’s out four-to-six weeks or the entire season. But this line is definitely going to miss Kelce.
Danny Watkins – He’s still having too many issues in pass protection. Ngata went right around Watkins and delivered a blow to Vick’s chest/rib area on a 19-yard completion to Brent Celek in the first. Ngata probably could have been flagged for a penalty on the play. Watkins had trouble with Albert McLellan in the second as Vick was forced to leave the pocket and run for 5 yards. Ngata went right around him and crushed Vick from his blind side in the third. And Ngata beat him again later on a play where Pernell McPhee crushed Vick. Watkins had some good moments too. He made a decent block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And he did a good job in pass protection on Jackson’s 49-yard bomb in the third. But he just needs to get better in pass protection, especially given the team’s uncertain center situation.
Todd Herremans – After a disappointing Week 1 performance, Herremans was better against the Ravens. The Eagles should be running to his side a lot going forward. McCoy ran behind Herremans on the 4th-and-1 conversion in the first. Herremans made a really good block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And again on McCoy’s 5-yard run. He blocked the defensive end and then Lewis on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the fourth. In protection, Herremans had a few issues, but was fine overall. There was confusion all around on the Bernard Pollard sack in the first. Herremans and Watkins let Upshaw go right past them. Herremans got beat by Upshaw on the fourth-quarter play where Mathis was called for holding. And on the next play, he got beat by McPhee, who crushed Vick as he threw.
Demetress Bell – I was surprised when inactives were announced and the Eagles decided that he would dress as the swing tackle in place of rookie Dennis Kelly. Clearly, the coaches are seeing some progress from Bell. He entered the game in the third quarter and held up well. In the preseason, Bell looked completely lost. That was not the case here. By my count, Bell was on the field for 20 pass plays. And on 11 occasions, he was asked to block a Ravens defender one-on-one. On the other nine plays, the Eagles wisely gave him help – either in the form of another lineman, a tight end or a running back. Bell did a really nice job in protection on the 49-yard completion to Jackson. The question is: Has something clicked with Bell and Howard Mudd’s techniques? Or did he just block the way he used to with the vertical steps in Buffalo, trying to do whatever he could to keep Vick clean? From my perspective, there was definitely a little bit of that, which seems fine, given the circumstances. Bell was not perfect, but he held up much better than expected. He got turned around on a stunt on the first play of the final drive, but Vick stepped up and hit Jackson for a 14-yard gain. In the run game, he didn’t give the Eagles much. Bell got beat inside and was called for holding on a McCoy run that was stopped at the line of scrimmage. And he got blown up by Upshaw on a McCoy run to the left that lost 4 yards. If Dunlap can’t go Sunday, Bell will get his first start of the season.
Dallas Reynolds – Not sure if I tempered my expectations for Reynolds or if he really played well, but I was impressed with the way he came in and performed. I didn’t notice any missed blocks that resulted in a sack or a hit on Vick. On the 13-yard third-down completion to Johnson, he started out with Watkins, double-teaming Ngata, recognized a delayed blitzer and switched to help Mathis. Really nice job for someone seeing his first NFL action. In the third, Reynolds had some trouble with nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, but overall, he might have been the Eagles’ unsung hero Sunday. We’ll see if they make a roster move or give him a shot with Kelce out.
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