The offensive line got off to a good start Sunday against Denver. Then Jamaal Jackson got hurt in the first quarter. Things were more up and down from that point on. Nick Cole shifted to center. Max Jean-Gilles came in and took over at right guard. Cole was rusty as the center. That was to be expected. He's played well for us at guard, but sliding inside changes everything. You have to snap and block. You have to make the line calls and blitz adjustments. Cole blocked OK, but he struggled with some of the other responsibilities. I think a full week of practice at center will make a world of difference. Jean-Gilles played about like he always does. He wasn't as good as you'd ideally like a starting lineman to be, but he was effective.
Losing Jackson does hurt. The line was in a groove. They were playing well as a group. Now that chemistry is going to be changed. Thankfully, we have a deep group and we're not mixing in completely unknown players. There is one unknown factor, Stacy Andrews. He struggled earlier in the year. Andrews wasn't fully recovered from his ACL injury. He didn't seem to trust his knee. That led to him playing too upright, being slow and not moving his feet. Andrews might be a lot more comfortable now. If so, then he could be in the mix to take over for Cole at right guard.
I've gotten a few questions about Jackson and his status for next year. That is a tricky situation. Andrews tore his ACL about this time last year and he was slow to recover. The big difference is that Jackson knows the offense and blocking style. He won't have to learn anything new, only rehab and work on his knee. I'm optimistic that he'll be ready in the preseason. Don't expect the Eagles to go grab a center early in the draft. Cole can play there. Mike McGlynn is still waiting in the wings. Hopefully all of this is moot and Jackson will be fine by August.
For my complete recap of Sunday's win over Denver with a look towards this week's showdown in Dallas, click here.
-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 11:31 a.m., December 29