There was some good and some not so good up front as the offensive line got together for the first time in 2010 last Sunday. Another grand opening happens this week at Ford Field and the Eagles have very little time to get their five alive and playing good football against an aggressive, promising and, at times last week, extremely impactful defensive line in Detroit.
The leader of the group is rookie tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second pick in April's draft. He debuted against the Bears and had a sack and he commanded a bunch of attention from Chicago's interior wall. Suh is joined up front by Corey Williams inside and ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril and the group has some punch.
On Sunday, the Lions battled Chicago to the bitter end, as it turned out for Detroit. The Lions held Chicago to 101 rushing yards, but quarterback Jay Cutler completed 25 of 35 passes for 372 yards and was sacked four times. So what do you make of Detroit's defense after one week? Ups and downs. A lot of promise.
And a potential superstar in Suh manning the middle of the defensive line.
Along, then, comes an Eagles offensive that is in regroup mode once again. Center Jamaal Jackson is out for the season after suffering a torn triceps against Green Bay. It was a terrible injury that happened to a great guy, a hard worker and a fine player and leader. Jackson's recovery from a torn ACL lasted less than one half of one game.
Without Jackson, the Eagles turn to Mike McGlynn, who played well after going in against Green Bay. This is McGlynn's big moment, the one he has waited for since the Eagles drafted him from the University of Pittsburgh. He was a guard, then a center, then a guard and now a center. Now he is the center.
And McGlynn, suddenly, is the leader of the line with very little experience and a full season in front of him. It is a great opportunity for McGlynn, who has worked hard to be in this spot. The Eagles saw enough of McGlynn in the preseason to trust him now. They could have added a veteran in the last 48 hours -- Justin Hartwig is still out there -- but instead the Eagles are relying on the promise of McGlynn, who has worked hard, kept quiet, and learned on the go for three-plus seasons now.
It isn't just McGlynn who has to step up here. Green Bay had too much success blitzing the Eagles on Sunday, just as Cincinnati and Kansas City had success in the preseason. Whether it is timing, or picking the right gaps, or catching the Eagles off guard, defenses have found ways to pressure the Eagles' backfield since the end of last season. So, clearly, adjustments have to be made. Schemes have to be tweaked and players must play better.
There are no secrets here. Teams are attacking the line of scrimmage, testing the offensive line. Until the Michael Vick-led offense started moving in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the results were decidedly in favor of the Packers defense. Vick made some big plays with his legs and took the Packers out of the structure of their defense and the Eagles climbed back in the game.
Detroit is preparing to see Vick with Kevin Kolb out until at least Friday with the concussion he suffered in the opener. Preparing for Vick and his movement ability is a lot different than seeing him all of a sudden in the middle of a game. The Lions are going to come up with something creative to keep Vick in the pocket and force him to throw the football.
The Eagles, on the other hand, have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. They have to convert in short-yardage situations and score touchdowns in the red zone. They have to be efficient. They have to take advantage of openings.
And they have to find some continuity. One of the larger surprises on Sunday was the inactive status of guard Reggie Wells, who had started 90 straight games in Arizona before the Eagles traded for him 10 days before the opener. Will Wells move into the rotation in some way, shape or form now?
What will the Eagles do with Suh, who seems to have that kind of game-wrecking ability so early in his career? And how about Vanden Bosch, who had 11 total tackles in his Lions debut?
These aren't the "same, old Lions." This is an improving team with a defense that has a talented front four leading the way on that side of the ball. They are going to go after Vick, or Kolb, and they are going to challenge the Eagles offensive line, one that is the uncharacteristic position of still trying to find itself early in the 2010 season.