LANDOVER, Md. -- With rookie quarterback Nick Foles making his first career start, the Eagles' offensive line needed to step up in a big way. And while there were some highlights – the screen game was largely effective – inconstancy and penalties contributed to the Eagles' offensive woes in their 31-6 loss to the Redskins Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles committed nine penalties in the game, and the offensive line was called for six (including one declined penalty). Of the four reserve offensive lineman who started Sunday (left guard Evan Mathis was the only expected starter who played), two were starting at new spots. Rookie Dennis Kelly was moved from right guard to right tackle. His vacated guard spot was filled by veteran Jake Scott, who signed with the team on Monday.
"I've been saying this for awhile, the offensive line … works best as a unit," Kelly said after the game. "And when you're changing people all over the place because of injuries or because of need, you kind of lose a little bit of the rhythm. That's where you just have to have some time together and work together and just get better."
The line had little time to come together during the game. After an interception ended the Eagles' first drive after three plays, the offense came back on the field looking to answer a Redskins touchdown. But the offense had a difficult time getting started. On that drive, Kelly was called for a hold and Scott was called for two false start penalties.
"The false starts were on me," Scott said. "That's more of a concentration thing than anything … I just needed to settle down. (The penalties don't) have a lot to do with anything, it's just me needing to settle down."
Scott was thrust into the starting lineup in place of Danny Watkins, who has been battling a chronic ankle injury for the better part of a month. Scott had started every game between 2005 and 2011 as a member of the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. But Scott had little time to get to know his teammates, and even less time to get comfortable playing alongside them.
While the line was inconsistent, there were some positives. The screen game was a prominent feature of the offense for the first time all season, and players like LeSean McCoy and Riley Cooper were able to make big plays on third down.
There is no quick fix for the offensive line. The biggest component in improvement is time. With the Panthers coming to Philadelphia next Monday, it will be up to the players to watch the film and dissect where they went wrong.
"There are mistakes that are going to be on tape," Mathis said. "It's all clear as day when you look at the film. Your problems are what you're doing; what's making you inconsistent. You have to correct those things moving forward and quit doing them and be a consistent football team."
"No matter who's in at what spot, we have to get it done," left tackle King Dunlap said. "We have to come back, keep working hard and get better. Plain and simple."
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