March 06, 2013

THE 12: #2 - THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD

 

LAST year we gave away 48 sacks. That’s an average of 3 per game with no official number on how many additional hits our passers absorbed. Michael Vick was sacked once every 13.53 dropbacks. Nick Foles once every 14.25. As a team the Eagles allowed a sack once every 13.87 dropbacks. Even the RAIDERS only allowed one every 24.29.

By contrast Matt Ryan was sacked only once every 22.96 times.

Tom Brady every 24.74.

Drew Brees every 26.76

Peyton Manning every 29.0

Injuries played a big role in what happened to us last year but blaming injuries alone obscures deeper underlying deficiencies in the kind of talent on this roster. Jason Peters was a blow, but it came with enough time to regroup and sign Demetress Bell who bombed horribly. It’s also time to close the book on the King Dunlap experiment. Todd Heremanns is an able pass protector on Vick’s blindside, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of run blocking due to lower leg issues in recent years. Evan Mathis, Danny Watkins, and Jason Kelce would be nice reserve players, but they form an interior that won’t scare some college teams.

We need to upgrade.

***************************************************************************

THE MEAT:

Weeks 1-3 there was a big deal made of the fact that the Eagles weren’t giving up sacks to Defensive Linemen. Sounds good unless you actually watched those games and saw how many passes came off of Vick’s back foot, as he faded back against constant pressure. Also, Linebackers and Safeties were teeing off on our passers. You cannot establish a rhythm and run an offense successfully that way.

Before I get too stuck on the pass, let’s look at the run:

Year        Yards        Average        TD’s        20yd runs        40yd runs

2011        2,276         5.1                 20            20                     3

2012        1,874         4.5                   3            14                     2

 

EVERY single category across the board took a hit.

In 2012 the Offensive Line’s play led to 2 injured QB’s and lower production from LeSean McCoy. If pass protection and short yardage situations weren’t also an issue in 2011, we could chalk 2012 up to an aberration due to injury, and just say bring on 2013. Unfortunately doing that would be deluding ourselves.

 

THE MOVE:

We have OT’s. Maybe not long term, but we have them this year. Also Danny Watkins played LT in college, so maybe a position change will help him. Where we need to be better is in the middle of the line. If we use our first 2 picks on the Secondary then the first chance we get to grab a G will be in the 3rd, unless we jump first and try to land a Free Agent like Buffalo’s Andy Levitre.

Better still, we could grab Minnesota’s Phil Loadholt and (wisely) convert him from RT to RG. Personally I’m a fan of that move because it gives LeSean McCoy one of the major weapons that helped build and maintain Adrian Peterson, and it saves that 3rd round pick. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a massive, mauler at G for the first time since I became an Eagles fan (1989). With Chip Kelly saying that his offense would be based off the run, I can’t think of a better solution inside. 

 

30 Comments:
  • I've already said that I think Levitre would be a great grab for the team he's a solid guard and would fill the major hole we have at RG. Mathis and Kelce I don't have a problem with Kelce had a good rookie year and then got injured this year. The biggest problem with the O-line is the RG spot and backups I think if we take care of that we'll have a solid unit going forward at least for the next few season. The Loadholt idea is intriguing idea that I could get behind I just think Levitre is the safer pick. In a perfect world we'd be able to snag both.
  • I'm not sure that Levitre is safer. We got Jason Peters from Buffalo and Jaun Castillo took 2 years to overhaul him remember:
    http://philly.sbnation.com/philadelphia-eagles/2011/12/7/2618674/eagles-lt-jason-peters-becoming-special-player

    We also got Demetress Bell form Buffalo, and HE had trouble learning how to play in Howard Mudd's system.

    I'm not sure what they're teaching in Buffalo, but it may have something to do with them winning fewer than 8 games every year for the last 8 years.

    Levitre has the selling point of being 6'2 to Loadholt's 6'8. With Vick being 6'0, Loadholt could pose a passing lane problem if he gets ridden backward (at 343lbs). Of course since Vick is a southpaw, Loadholt would be a backside G and that may not pose a problem at all.

    Loadholt's height is even less of a problem if you believe Nick Foles (6'6), will still be here, has a legit shot at winning the starting role, AND actually wins it.
  • (Since YB has this thing about limiting comments, I had to flip over to the other I.D.)

    Seems the Eagles are sniffing around RT Eric Winston. I hope we get him. I didn't see him last year with KC, but I know he was solid in Houston. I was shocked when they released him over cap space, when Matt Schaub's well being could suffer for it.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/texans-take-a-big-risk-in-releasing-eric-winston?urn=nfl,wp20455
  • I wouldn't mind that pick up as well. Most good lineman can play effectively well into their 30s. He would be a solid addition that plays RT, and would allow Todd to move back inside. With the addition of him and hopefully the injured guys coming back healthy the line will be better.
  • One other thing:

    On the Eagle's website a few days ago, Bo Wulf wrote:

    6. Phil Loadholt, Minnesota – Ht: 6-8, Wt: 343, Age: 27, Exp: 4

    Career: Another mauling right tackle from the 2009 draft class, Loadholt earned the right tackle job as a rookie as hasn’t looked back since, starting 63 games over the last four years.

    Fit: Because the Vikings are such a run-dependent offense and because Loadholt is their best run blocker, it would be a pretty big surprise to see him land elsewhere. But if he is available, the Eagles could have interest, though he faces similar question marks to Smith.

    http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/article-1/Free-Agency-Preview-Offensive-Tackle/bc0e96ef-2a3e-4647-9691-dcce67931f69

    I have a hard time buying that they'd want a guy who isn't a good pass protector playing OT. A move to G takes him from good to dominant.
  • You are selling me more and more on this Loadholt idea. With the Winston release the eagles have a TON of options to go with in FA. The disappointment would be if they didnt get any. Grabbing two of these guys would set up our O-line for a long time... maybe even long enough to get a good QB
  • I didn't see where it states that he isn't a good pass blocker. Why would Loadholt want to move to guard from tackle when there will be teams willing to sign him as a tackle at more money?
  • It doesn't, but that's the only thing holding AP's best blocker out of Pro Bowls (and the larger paychecks).

    I kick around the NFL (fan of multiple), and follow linemen, so I have more O-line info than the average fan, but I'm sure if you dig you'll be able to find it too. Everything is on the internet anymore.
  • whatever we do, we cant have herremans playing tackle anymore. he cant get to the outside rush n everyone just blows past him on the outside. movve him to guard where the center n tackle can help and there isnt as much movement needed on passing plays. on runs hes seem fine so pulling/trapping shouldnt be that much of a concern. i would leave him at RG since he has experience n can help the new guy, if its a rookie, adjust to the nfl. i would love to have wamrack hes a beast, but that would leave herremans outside n our qb out to dry.
  • I was never thrilled at the thought of moving him to tackle in the first place but understood it was necessary...last year. This year they have the ability to fix this and move him back to where he excelled and no one questioned his play.
  • What is this sick fascination with moving Herremanns back inside? It simply can't be done. It's partly WHY he was moved outside!

    Due to problems in BOTH of his feet (stress fracture, ligament damage, dislocated bone), he doesn't have the explosion and power to be useful inside in the run game anymore.

    But don't take my word for it, I'll let YOU prove my point.

    Go outside, put your car in neutral and push it 10 feet on an upgrade. Pay attention to the stress in your feet and where you feel it. (I used to do this exercise all the time.) Now do it again, but this time fire off the line like Herremans would have to. Note the "pulling" feeling in your feet. THAT is why Herremans is done inside.

    At T his big thing is pass pro. Good for him! It'll prolong his career. It's more movement, but easier on the feet. Less dig and drive (WOW! How long has it been since I used THAT term?!) Even in the run game, it's more steering, less driving.

    There is no moving Herremans inside effectively. When he can't play T he'll be out of football. But don't take my word for it. Just listen to your own feet.
  • He was moved outside because he was their best option (never heard anyone claim it had anything to do with his feet...did you hear that or are you assuming?) and I haven't heard anyone but you claim he can't move back inside. He sure seemed to be playing inside just fine before they moved him. We'll see if the Eagles do target a starting tackle (they reportedly have/had interest in Winston) and where they line Herremans up if they do and whether they have the same concern that you do. Does he back the tackles up (expensive backup) especially with the knowledge that Peters may not come back all the way or could go down again or does he move back to a position he played well at that the Eagles have a need to fill?
  • Then of course there's your assumption that he'll be back this year.

    Quick! If Jason Peters is the anchor at LT, Mathis is their steadiest lineman at LG, Kelce is the Center, and Watkins is their youth movement at RG, then if they target a T in the Draft (or Winston in FA) then where does that leave Herremans?

    Oh yeah, on the bench. As an expensive back-up.

    He played "fine" at LG in Andy Reid's pass first system. Chip Kelly says his will be a run first system. LG is not a run first G. Todd Herremans was drafted as a T and moved to G for his proficiency as a pass protector.

    Again, I'm a grown man with an ounce or two of common sense. You don't exactly need to be Sherlock Holmes to put these pieces together.

    BTW: How far did you get the car on your second attempt?
  • By back do you mean Peters being healthy or Herremans back at guard...if it's the latter I do not assume he will be back at guard unless the Eagles get a starting caliber tackle in either the draft or free agency and Peters is healthy...and it isn't just me assuming that. Sure, Peters may not be healthy and I would guess that Herremans stays out at tackle if that happens but if he is healthy enough to play and the Eagles do target a tackle it would make sense to move Herremans back to guard and again the only blip in that thinking is...you say he can't. You called it a "sick fascination" but on the Eagles website today Greg Cosell and Adam Caplan looked at free agent tackles and after the segment Spadaro stated that if the Eagles brought in a tackle than the thought would be that Herremans would move back to guard...not once did he mention medical concerns. Herremans was asked earlier this year if he would have a problem with moving back to guard and he stated he would play wherever the team wanted him to play. I'm sure you will tell me that's just "player speak" (and "spokesperson speak" for Spadaro) and that he isn't going to say that he can only play tackle now and maybe it is. Somehow I get the feeling that this is nothing more than you just looking too deep into this and assuming Herremans can't play guard. I'll be curious to see what happens if the Eagles do bring in a starting caliber tackle (Winston...Fisher maybe) and Peters is healthy. Maybe Todd Herremans will never play guard again or maybe he moves back and is ineffective because of what you hint at...no offense but I'll wait until I hear it from the someone related to the Eagles before I'm sure he can't or won't be back at guard sometime in the future. By the way did you honestly think anyone would go try your little "exercise"?
  • If Todd does move to guard then the Eagles must feel he is better at that position for them. I mean why would the Eagles sign a tackle, pay him tackle money and move him to guard when the have Herremans on the roster? Kind of seems like a truckload of stupid.
  • By "back" I mean that Herremans may not even make this roster. He has a 2013 salary of $4.3M (a VERY good reason to say, AND MEAN that he's willing to play anywhere they put him).

    If he doesn't start, do you really think Chip "Away at the Salary Cap" Kelly will sit him on the bench? With $18.9M more due him between 2013-2016?? Come on guy. I know for a FACT that you're smarter than that.

    As for my little exercise, I figured that fans would want a better idea of what Herremans is facing out there. It was just an idea to give some perspective to anybody who wanted some. But yeah, I guess I thought some of you might welcome a challenge, and the opportunity to push yourselves. My mistake.

    Pushing a car ten feet up an inclined surface (flat surfaces do no good) is a lot like controlling a grown man trying to fight you back. Jon Runyan used to push his truck, which explains quite a bit. It's not as easy, or mindless as it sounds.
  • Where in my comments do I ever insinuate that Herremans would be a backup? In your earlier comment you discuss Watkins as the guard of the future and I do hope that he turns it around this year but in what world do you see Watkins ahead of Herremans at any position? I guess in that world where YOU see Herremans unable to play guard. As for Herremans salary, you do get that 1.2 million of his salary has already been paid due his signing bonus and that his base pay is a much more reasonable 2.6 million this year and 3 million next year, don't you? The dead money against him this year would be 4.8 million due to the signing bonus prorated from his new deal. So, it's either pay Herreman's 2.6 million this year to play or cut him and take a cap hit of 4.8 million dollars for nothing. He seems to have more value to the Eagles on the roster and not off but of course that is assuming he can play and once again the only indication that he may not be able to play is you telling me he can't play guard. Herremans said he is almost ready to play and everything I have heard surrounding him leads me to believe the Eagles see him in their immediate future though you never do know what the Eagles are thinking. I would like to see the Eagles draft a tackle or bring one in in free agency and move Herremans back to guard. It's not a "sick" fascination...just a move I think would help improve the Eagles offensive line. If it can't happen because of medical issues with Herreman's feet so be it but again until I either hear it from someone close to the situation I will keep hoping.

    Update: March 12, 2013
    Actually 1.7 of Herremans salary has already been paid out this year due to an additional 500,000 that was paid out by bonus from his earlier contract and prorated through this year.
  • Wow! First Eric Allen is a bum, and now Herremans can't play the position he's played the majority of his entire NFL career. The 12 is full of misleading insights this time around.
  • I think it was more like Allen was not a shutdown corner and he lists Herremans feet as the reason he INSISTS Herremans can't play guard but I get your point. No offense meant to flip but I'm not going to listen to a man's opinion on yardbarker and write it in stone especially since I have heard or read NOTHING even remotely close to that from any legitimate source.

    Update: March 12, 2013
    I can't post a new comment so I will update here instead:

    I just heard that Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles are among a few teams that are interested in signing Jake Long. Although I hoped the Eagles would sign a tackle I have to wonder if the Eagles are considering possibly moving on from Jason Peters. I hope not but would the Eagles be willing to sink 20 million dollars into the tackle position? Could they be looking at Peters salary and thinking that with his injury that Long would be a better long term option or would he be looked at to bookend Peters and give Kelly two of the better tackles in football (as long as they both stay healthy)? I hope it's the latter...we may find out soon.
  • I thought about doing the same move to add more posts to YB. Like I wrote earlier I was surprised at so many names the Eagles are connected to. Maybe they don't think they will get them all, but they sure do seem interested in a bunch of guys. Maybe they don't think Peters fits their system or maybe they think one of them can play RT. depending on who starts next season at quarterback, either tackle could be on the blind side. Regardless I believe Herremans is in their plans.
  • I thought about RT for Peters...who knows, could be nothing to the report at all. Jeff McClane just stated that the Eagles believe that they are close to winning and with the draft and a few moves in free agency they will be right back in the thick of it. He said he doesn't expect them to jump right in today...hoping he's wrong about both. This team needs a rebuild and not just a couple tweaks.
  • GTD: I'm not say that he CAN'T line up at Guard. I'm saying with foot problems he won't be effective in a run first offense.

    This is why I mentioned that exercise. If you know what he has to do, then YOU will get it without anybody (me, the Eagles, nobody) having to tell you. When you don't know then anybody can tell you anything. (Or NOT tell you and hide certain stuff.)

    You can put anybody anywhere, but even when Herremanns played LG he wasn't on the run side. If Kelly is going to repair this team, upgrading the Secondary and Offensive Line have to be priorities.
  • Flip: When you type that when Herremans is done at tackle he is done at football I figure you mean that he can't play guard at all (and when you call people wanting to see him move to guard a sick fascination) but okay.
  • What I'm saying (and I said it earlier) is that Mathis is their best option at LG, and Watkins is (for some reason) their idea of an answer at RG.

    On top of that in the coming years Herremans the OT is due an awful lot of money for sub-Pro Bowl play, and mounting injuries. He's only more expensive and more of a liability as Herremans the G.
  • I'm not sure where you figure that Watkins is penciled in at starter. He was a healthy scratch last year and lost his job to a backup. Kelly could decide he is his starter and give him chance #3 as a starter with the Eagles but I haven't heard anything that states that. Seems everyone is battling for positions so I don't know why Watkins would be above that...especially Watkins honestly.

    I'm not thrilled at the length of Herremans deal but honestly his cap number doesn't kill the Eagles no matter what position he plays. He is signed for 4 more years and his base salary is 2.6 million this year, 3 million next year and 4 million in years 3-4...each year 1.2 million has already been paid out by signing bonus. Can't do anything about the 1.2 now and will count against the cap no matter what...2.6 to 4 million the next 4 years is not a lot to pay for a solid starter no matter if it's at tackle or guard. Add on the 1.2 since it is part of his deal and it is still reasonable...3.8 million to 5.2 still isn't crippling money as long as he is playing well. He struggled last year a bit before getting hurt. He was more effective at guard. Maybe he will never play guard again, maybe he will never be effective at any position again with his injuries and the Eagles give up on him and take the cap hit since they may be able to afford it this year. Only time will tell.
  • you're boy Loadholt is gone resigned with the vikings
  • Had to keep AP from being kicked in the stomach again.
  • Levitre went to Tenn, looks like Long is going to the Rams. so now what? I really was hoping to get a solid vet over drafting a lineman in the first.
  • I wonder if Offensive Line coach Jeff Stoutland will try to steer the Eagles towards drafting Chance Warmack at #4.

    My gut says we'll get a CB, or screw up and take Geno Smith, but maybe, just maybe Warmack's old coach can talk him up to the rest of the staff.

    Man, I'm hoping!
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