Philadelphia Eagles News

Offensive Line Hopes Continuity Is Key

Washington's defensive line has combined for 175 1/2 career sacks, and this year's group has kept a quick pace and has provided a 3-7 team a huge beam of light. If you think the Redskins are going to be easy to push around on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, think again. The group the Redskins have up front -- the front seven, in fact -- is very, very good.

"Good players. I think Carter (Andre, left end) has something like 8 sacks and they have other guys who are getting after the quarterback and stopping the run, too," said Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. "We've played them before. We know how good they are."

In the first meeting, in late October, the Eagles hit Washington for a couple of big plays and skated to a 27-17 win. It wasn't nearly as complete an effort as the Eagles need on Sunday, though. Philadelphia is looking to hit its stride in the midst of a playoff push, and playing sporadic offensive football isn't the way to get in the right rhythm.

It sure will help if the Eagles can keep the same five linemen on the field each week -- Peters at left tackle, Todd Herremans at left guard, Jamaal Jackson at center, Nick Cole at right guard and Winston Justice at right tackle. They start for the second consecutive game on Sunday, and that means a lot.

"You always want to have the same five out there each week. It makes you better as a group," said Peters. "You get to know the guy next to you a little bit more."

Peters, acquired in the big pre-draft trade with Buffalo, was cruising along playing outstanding football until he suffered knee/ankle injuries against the Raiders. Since then, it has been a battle for Peters, and a battle for a line that has juggled bodies all year. Last week, though, with the five starters on the field the entire game, the offense moved the football with great confidence and balance and the Eagles defeated Chicago to end a two-game losing streak.

Are the best days coming?

"We feel like if we're all there, we can play as well as any group out there," said Herremans, who made his season debut against the Redskins in that Monday night game. "I think everyone is confident about that. We just have to stay healthy and come together. This is the right time to do it."

Washington's scheme isn't a complicated one. The Redskins rely on good, old-fashioned wins at the line of scrimmage. Man-on-man stuff. End Andre Carter is having a career season, rookie Brian Orakpo has come right in and contributed and tackle Albert Haynesworth has been a load to handle when healthy. Haynesworth is listed as questionable for the game, but the Eagles are preparing to see him.

"For us, though, it's about following our technique and playing together, no matter who we play," said Herremans. "From that standpoint, it doesn't matter who is on the other side of the ball."

The Eagles, of course, had grand plans for the offensive line coming into the season. They traded for Peters, called the "best left tackle in football" by head coach Andy Reid. They signed Stacy Andrews in free agency. They counted on Shawn Andrews to play right tackle. Well, you know what has happened -- Stacy hasn't been healthy since suffering his knee injury in Cincinnati last year and isn't starting. Shawn is seeking a third opinion on a back injury that has kept him sidelined all season. And Peters, while very, very good at times, has been limited by a quad injury in the preseason and the ankle/knee problems during the regular season.

"I'm just working and trying to get better," said Peters, a man of few words. "I think it is coming for me. Run or pass, I'm ready to go. Whatever they call, I'm ready to play and play well. It doesn't matter to me. I'm going to go out there and give it my best effort, play hard and help our team win."

Peters is a no-frills guy, a superb athlete with the kind of feet coaches drool over. He has been a dominating run blocker and while he has made some mistakes as a pass blocker, Peters is good enough to handle the best ends in the league in one-on-one situations. With the Redskins, Falcons and Giants waiting, Peters has to be at his best. Playoff football is here. The best offensive lines win games.

First up is Washington. It should be a typical NFC East game -- physical, fast, a lot of bloody noses on the field. For the Eagles to win, they have to earn their stripes at the line of scrimmage. Having the offensive line together for a second straight week should help. The longer they can play together, the better chance the Eagles have of finishing the season strong and vaulting into the postseason.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content