A big question everyone has about the Eagles offense this year is whether or not Kevin Kolb is going to be able to pick up where Donovan McNabb left off. The biggest deciding factor on that question will be whether or not the offensive line gives him the protection he needs.
There’s no doubt that the Eagles are stacked on offense at all the skill positions. However, it doesn’t matter how much talent you have at these positions if your quarterback doesn’t have enough time to get the ball out.
When Jamaal Jackson went down towards the end of the season last year, it had a huge impact on the team. This is where a lot of the initial worries are this offseason. It’s very unlikely that Jackson will be available at the beginning of the season and it’s hard to pinpoint when his actual return will be.
With Jackson out, Nick Cole moves into the starting spot for the time being. Cole has seen more action at the guard position but does have the versatility to play center. He took over the position last year when Jackson went down but didn’t exactly impress anyone. The good news is that he’s been getting all the reps with the starters and is getting to focus solely on the center position this offseason. I’m sure he’s probably seeing some improvement, but it’s unknown how high his ceiling is.
Shifting to the other interior line positions, you have Todd Herremans and Stacy Andrews slated to be your starting guards. Herremans is probably the most reliable lineman on the team and has been a rock for years. Andrews on the other hand is a big question mark. He can be a great player when he’s healthy, but the problem is that he never seems to actually be healthy. Max-Jean Gilles provides some nice depth behind the guards, but other than him there are a lot of young, unproven players.
At the tackles you have Jason Peters and Winston Justice. Peters may have made the Pro Bowl last year but he definitely didn’t have a Pro Bowl season. He definitely hasn’t been anywhere near the top of his game while in Philadelphia, so I’m hoping he’s ready to get back into his A-game this year.
Justice was one of the most pleasant surprises for the Eagles last year. He’s been rewarded with a new contract and should be the anchor of the right side of the offense for many years.
There’s not a whole lot of impressive depth at the tackle position so you have to hope that the starters stay healthy all year.
So should we be worried about the offensive line? I don’t see how you can’t be. Play calling can be changed if the Eagles aren’t blocking very well. However, you hope that they don’t have to limit themselves because the line can’t hold up.