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Offseason Preview: Offensive Tackle

Posted Jan 15, 2012

Our position-by-position preview heading into the offseason shifts its focus to the offensive line where Howard Mudd revamped and retooled the protection for quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy with much success despite the lack of a full offseason. Here is a look at the offensive tackle position that featured the dominant Jason Peters and Todd Herremans, who made the shift from guard just before the start of the season.

2011 Season In Review

Not since the days of Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan as the bookends of the Eagles’ offensive line, have fans been treated to tackle play quite as superb as was on display last season. Featuring four-time All-Pro Jason Peters on the left side and underrated veteran Todd Herremans – who was penciled in as the starter at left guard until the end of the preseason - on the right, the Eagles had one of the best tackle tandems in the league in 2011.

The Eagles offensive line under the guidance of new coach Howard Mudd allowed just 32 sacks last year, down from 49 the season before. According to the advanced analytics service Pro Football Focus, only seven sacks were attributed to the team’s offensive tackles in 2011. Most impressively, though, was how Peters and Herremans led the way for All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy in his breakout season. When McCoy ran behind Peters, he averaged an astounding 7.5 yards per carry on 34 attempts; when rushing behind Herremans, he averaged 8.7 yards per carry on 14 attempts. The third-year running back scored five of his 17 rushing touchdowns on off-tackle runs.

Herremans was one of three starters on offense to not miss a single game all season. Peters sat out two games with a hamstring injury. In his place, reserve King Dunlap started one game, handling the position admirably in Peters’ absence at Buffalo. Veteran Winston Justice, who was recovering from offseason knee surgery, took over at right tackle in the first Redskins game when both Peters and Dunlap were unavailable. Herremans moved to the left side in that contest and both played well. The Eagles not only won the game, but the offensive line did not surrender a single earned sack.

Impressive Stat

According to Pro Football Focus, Jason Peters was the highest-ranked tackle in football last season, with a 27.6 rating. Along with Todd Herremans, the two formed the league’s top-rated tackle pairing at 30. For perspective, the next-highest pair, Tennessee’s Michael Roos and David Stewart, came in at a combined 25.8, 1.8 points below Peters’ individual total.

End of Season Depth Chart

LT: 1. Jason Peters, 2. King Dunlap (UFA)

RT: 1. Todd Herremans, 2. Winston Justice

To Be Answered

Jason Peters and Todd Herremans will have a full offseason to work with Mudd and could potentially become even better in 2012. King Dunlap is set to hit free agency, so the Eagles will have to decide whether or not they wish to re-sign the 6-9 lineman. Dunlap has started seven games in his three years in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ other reserve, seven-year veteran Winston Justice, was recovering from a 2010 knee injury for much of last season and will look to bounce back in 2012 after a full offseason of training. Philadelphia looks to be in great shape at the offensive tackle position moving forward, with Peters and Herremans entering their second season together as starting tackles.

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