January 05, 2018
In 2017, two Philadelphia Eagles offensive linemen, RT Lane Johnson and RG Brandon Brooks, were (rightfully) voted into the Pro Bowl. A third, C Jason Kelce, probably should have gotten in as well, and a fourth, LT Jason Peters, likely would have made it if he hadn't been lost for the season Week 7 with a torn ACL and MCL against the Washington Redskins.
In short, the Eagles' offensive line got excellent play from its offensive line starters in 2017, with a few exceptions.
On the season, Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, and Nate Sudfeld were sacked a combined 36 times, which seems like a high number, but isn't bad at all when given the proper context.
To begin, the Eagles run an offense in which they look to push the football down the field. As such, that often requires routes that take added time to develop, as opposed to a quick passing offense like the New York Giants', for example, who allowed fewer sacks (34) than the Eagles, but very clearly struggled to pass protect.
We went back and took a look at all 36 of the Eagles' sacks, and assigned "blame" for each one. On 16 of them, we determined that the "blame" fell on one of the following:
Otherwise, here is who we would assign blame to for the remaining 20 sacks:
|Player||*Sacks allowed||*Pass blocking snaps|
• Aside from Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, not one Eagles offensive lineman was responsible for more than one sack this season.
• The outstanding season that Lane Johnson had really can't be overstated, as he faced a new stud pass rusher seemingly every week. A quick list of edge rushers who primarily rushed against Johnson: Ryan Kerrigan twice, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul twice, Joey Bosa, Von Miller, DeMarcus Lawrence, Michael Bennett, and Khalil Mack.
Johnson shut them out. Amazing.
The guy who did get a sack against him was the great Leger Douzable (49ers), and even on that play, there was debate as to who should have been dinged with the sack-allowed.
• Jason Peters' lone sack came at the hands of Chandler Jones (Cardinals) on a play in which he wasn't beaten soundly. It was just enough to warrant the sack allowed instead of putting it in the "coverage sack" bucket. At the age of 35, Peters was still pass-protecting like a player in his prime.
• Brandon Brooks' lone sack allowed happened when he got bull rushed into the lap of Carson Wentz, and Brooks' back actually caused a fumble. Otherwise, he was terrific in pass protection all season long, rightfully earning the Pro Bowl nod.
• There was a notable difference when Stefen Wisniewski began playing full time at LG. He really solidified that spot.
• Centers typically don't give up much in the way of sacks, and neither did Jason Kelce this year, allowing just one.
• Isaac Seumalo is in the conversation for worst game of the season of any Eagles player, for his performance against the Kansas City Chiefs Week 2. Yes, it was probably even worse than Nick Foles' game against the Raiders Week 16. Seumalo gave up as many sacks (4) in that one game as Peters, Johnson, Kelce, and Brooks combined gave up all season.
After an encouraging rookie season, Seumalo entered the 2017 season as the starting LG, but was benched after his dreadful Chiefs performance. He is a rare example of an Eagles player who did not meet expectations this season.
• There was a very clear dropoff in play from Peters and/or Johnson to Halapoulivaati Vaitai, which is to be expected. Still, Vaitai's five sacks-allowed were generally very ugly, as in, there was no gray area. He simply got smoked by the edge rusher across from him. Going forward, the Eagles should view Vaitai as a swing tackle only, though an effective one, but they should not feel confident that he is a long-term answer as a starter, in my view.
• To my surprise, we only dinged Chance Warmack for one sack, though certainly, he struggled in pass protection more than that stat would indicate.
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