Everybody is eager to see how Sam Bradford does in Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. There’s tremendous excitement around seeing number seven drop in the pocket and look down field for an open receiver. I’m anxious to see what Bradford does on those pass plays, but more importantly I’m eager to see how the Birds offensive line blocks for Bradford and maybe more importantly how they block for the Eagles running game.
If the Eagles offensive line does a great job of blocking of the Eagles running game, the Birds are going to have a great season.
First of all, if Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner step in at the guard positions and get the job done, the Eagles offense will be nearly impossible to stop. It’s very important that the Eagles be able to run the football effectively because it will prevent defenses from teeing off on Bradford. They must stay out of second or third and long plays, which are must passing situations. Bradford will get hit before or after his gets rid of the football on those situations.
The Eagles want to do what the Cowboys were able to accomplish last year. They want to feature their running game and take the pressure off of the quarterback. Tony Romo had his best season last year because he was throwing the ball against defenses that were always fearing the running game. Defenses had to defend DeMarco Murray and that allowed Romo to carve them up. Hopefully Murray will be able to play that same role with the Eagles.
If Chip Kelly and company can run the football, it will also take the pressure off of their defense and keep them off the field. The Cowboys defense had a great year in 2014 because Dallas dominated the time of possession by handing the ball off to Murray. If Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles can pound defenses on the ground, the Eagles defense will be fresh when they take the field.
So, I know you want to focus on what Bradford is doing, but the most important part of the game will be how Barbre and left tackle Jason Peters are doing on their double-teams against defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. Will they be able to push him off the line and come off and pick up a linebacker or defensive back pursuing to the play? Will the Birds be able to average over 4 yards a running play?
Will the Birds be able to depend on two journeyman offensive linemen to help them win the NFC East?
Barbre started his career with the Green Bay Packers, then he went to the Seattle Seahawks, then to the Miami Dolphins and back to the Seahawks, then to the Eagles. He’s started eight games in his seven years in the league. Obviously three other teams didn’t think he was good enough to play, but we’ll see if the Eagles were right to believe in him. Remember they could have drafted an offensive lineman in one of the drafts the last two years. They believe in Barbre.
“I can’t wait to get our “Tempo” going and see how the defense reacts to it”, Barbre told me last night on a 610am radio show. “You can’t get ready to play against the “Tempo” offense in a week. We started working on playing at this “Tempo” in the spring.”
Barbre believes the “Tempo” will help him and the rest of the offensive line get the job done. Chip Kelly believes in his “Tempo” so much that he believes it makes his players better.
Another part of the battle upfront, will feature center Jason Kelce and right guard Gardner blocking defensive tackle Paul Soliai. Moving off the ball won’t be an easy job because he’s about 350 pounds. Hopefully, one of the Eagles offensive linemen can come off the double team block and get a piece of the inside linebacker, who will be flowing to the play. Right tackle Lane Johnson and Gardner will also get chances to work together. Gardner will be a key to the season.
The young offensive lineman started out with the Miami Dolphins in 2009, then he played for the Baltimore Ravens. Next up were the Cincinnati Bengals, then the Houston Texans. Finally the Eagles signed Gardner last year. Now, he’s won the starting right guard position and been signed to a contract extension, but will they be able to count on him. Four other teams didn’t think he was good enough to get the job.
Will “Tempo” make these guys better? .Will these guards who were released by many of the other teams in the league be able to protect Bradford and block for Murray, Mathews and Sproles because of Chip Kelly’s “Tempo” offense?