I remember former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson putting together an offensive line back in the 1980’s, which he thought had the best chance to block their NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles defensive front, which was led by Reggie White, Jerome Brown and Seth Joyner.
That defensive group which was known as the “Gang-Green Defense”, had sacked Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman during his rookie year 11 times in one game.¬† Johnson decided he had to get players who could block that group.
They drafted Eric Williams to block White and matched up Nate Newton and Marc Stepnoski against Brown.
In the process of putting together an offensive line to block them, Johnson put together a front line which helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman obviously don’t think that history is worth imitating.¬† They aren’t worrying about matching up with the Dallas defensive line.
The last time we saw the Eagles offensive line in action, the Cowboys front defensive seven which is led by DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratlifff were kicking their butts two weeks in a row as the Birds were swept out of the playoffs.
The Eagles drafted 13 players in the seven rounds of the draft this past weekend but not one of them was an offensive lineman.¬† It’s an unusual occurance with Reid at the helm.
“We just felt the quality we were looking for when the pick came up wasn’t there”, said Eagles president Joe Banner.¬† “We didn’t want to force the pick”.
My reaction to that is, why not trade for an upgrade at the center and/or guard position, rather than stay with the same guys who weren’t able to get the job done at the end of the season.
They’re committed to three of their offensive linemen, Jason Peters at left tackle, Todd Herremans at left guard and Winston Justice at right tackle.
They all need to play better when the see the Cowboys the next time.¬† I think they’re capable of doing the job.¬† Their center and right guard situations are different stories.
Should the Eagles front office feel confidence in the players they currently have playing center and right guard¬† to block Dallas Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff?
Are the center and right guard¬† going to be able to deal with Washington’s monster in the middle Albert Haynesworth?¬† Can they block the Giants defensive tackles in the running and passing game?
I think the answer to each of those questions is no.
Now, if they’re going to improve in that area when the season starts, it will be because their right guard Stacy Andrews is healthier; or current starting center Nick Cole has gotten better and is more comfortable at the position; or new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb is getting rid of the ball sooner than former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Andrews says he wasn’t healthy last year and that’s the reason he was consistently getting pushed back into McNabb’s face during passing plays.¬† He says that’s the reason he was getting no movement at the point of attack on running plays.
The answer is definitely not Max Jean-Gilles.¬† He played like a swinging door when the Birds played the Cowboys in those two games at the end of the season.
Cole was thrown into the starting center role when starter Jamaal Jackson went down in the Denver game last season.¬† He’ll likely be the starter again when the season begins because Jackson won’t be ready to play at that time.
He didn’t get the job done in those last two games against the Cowboys but I guess he’s going to get better during the offseason or the offensive line still has a problem.
There are some who think Kolb will get rid of the ball sooner than McNabb and that will solve any problems the Eagles have on the offensive line.
We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any truth to that, but I’m concerned about a young, inexperienced quarterback like Kolb throwing the ball early and getting his pocket picked.
Kolb biggest challenge will be staying away from interceptions.
With the draft now completed, I don’t think the Eagles offensive line has improved very much from last year to this year, therefore they still don’t matchup well against the Cowboys.