GLENDALE, Ariz. – Time is not on the Eagles' side as they work on familiarity up front offensively. In the cadence of the NFL regular season, the practice reps are few before the snap count is live in a game.
With the ferocious Giants front four waiting, the Eagles know they have a lot of work to do to get Dallas Reynolds comfortable at the center position and to figure out if King Dunlap is healthy enough to play after missing the Arizona loss with a hamstring injury.
Sunday's game was a rough introduction for the men up front. Quarterback Michael Vick was sacked five times and was hit numerous other times in the 27-6 loss. The offense generated just two first downs until late in the first half. Running back LeSean McCoy had all of 15 touches and, in fact, spent more time in pass protection against the outstanding Cardinals rush than he did carrying the football.
"They showed us some things we hadn't seen, and they did it very well," said right guard Danny Watkins. "They had a good plan for us."
That plan is likely to be repeated in the weeks to come, and while it is far more complicated than what follows, the basic premise is to play downhill against this offense and blitz, blitz and blitz some more, whether it's off the edge or between the guards.
"They came after us quite a bit and we handled some of it and other times we didn't handle it very well," said left guard Evan Mathis. "We have to look at the film and see what we did right and what we need to improve on."
Truth is, the Eagles need to improve on just about everything offensively. The blueprint for teams to follow is clear: Put pressure on the line of scrimmage and force Vick to throw the ball quickly.
"It was loud out there and they were getting off the ball," said Bell, making his first Eagles start at left tackle. "We moved the ball well at times, but it wasn't enough."
Reynolds has a large responsibility as a first-time starter. He's got to help make adjustments based on what he sees from the defense, he's got to get the ball to Vick cleanly and then get into the second level and find the right man to block.
"I think I did some good things but I know I have a lot of work to do," he said. "It's just something where I need to get better every day, keep working hard and trust my coaches. I think it got better as the game went along. I feel like we're going to get there."