Injuries forced the Eagles to shuffle their offensive line once again on Sunday. The Eagles' unveiled their third different offensive line combination of the 2012 season Sunday against Atlanta. After King Dunlap returned to the left tackle position and rookie Dennis Kelly made his first career start at right guard, the question for the Eagles is whether to keep this alignment in place for the remainder of the season.
"Personally, it doesn't matter how we played or how I played. If we lose, I'd rather play bad and win than play good and lose," Dunlap said after the game. "We have to watch the tape and just work on our corrections and get ready for next week."
Dunlap was the starter to begin the season, but he missed two games after suffering a hamstring injury late in the Week 2 win over Baltimore. He played as a reserve in the two games leading up to Sunday's game against Atlanta, but was finally healthy enough to return to the starting lineup. Kelly started in place of Danny Watkins, who missed the game with an ankle injury.
Yes, the Eagles lost 30-17, but there were signs of optimism for an offensive line that has been without All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters all season and on-the-rise center Jason Kelce since that Ravens game. The offense did not have a turnover, which has plagued the team all season. The Eagles executed three scoring drives that spanned at least 60 yards. Two of those drives, which resulted in touchdowns, lasted at least 13 plays.
The Eagles were able to utilize a disciplined, ball-control approach against Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's unit which used a variety of exotic looks and did a good job of taking away some of the team's successful staple plays. The Eagles were hurt by a slow start on both sides of the ball. The Falcons marched 80 yards in 16 plays on the first drive of the game while the Eagles' offense went three-and-out and shortly thereafter trailed 14-0.
"We have great weeks of practice and we do fairly well throughout the rest of the game," Kelly said. "We just have to find something to kind of kick-start things and we haven't figured that part out and so we're going to work on it."
Certainly, there are still areas where the Eagles can improve up front. Quarterback Michael Vick was sacked three times and the Falcons were credited with five quarterback hits. Atlanta also had eight tackles for loss. Running back LeSean McCoy had two touchdowns, but averaged just 2.8 yards per carry.
"There's no secret recipe to it," Dunlap said. "There's nothing else to say or any other way to put it, we just have to go out there and get it done. It's on us as an offense to move the ball and put points up to help our defense out."
As the Eagles look for signs of optimism in the wake of Sunday's loss, the team may be closer to solidifying the offensive line with the performances by Dunlap and Kelly.
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