The Philadelphia Eagles had all the makings of a Super Bowl contender in 2011 but for many reasons finished a nondescript 8-8. They blew five fourth quarter leads, had a turnover ratio of -14, had a hard time adapting to Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo’s defensive scheme, and had very important WR DeSean Jackson acting like a primadonna when he didn’t get a new contract. This year, they know what has to be done to get the franchise back to the top of the NFC East but the main question is “Can they do it?” The Offensive Line also has had moments of frustration and this year they lost possibly the best Left Tackle in the NFL in Jason Peters. The 2012 version of the Offensive Line looks like it will be at LT Demetress Bell, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Danny Watkins and RT Todd Herremans.
Left Tackle Demetress Bell was taken in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Buffalo. He was a fairly sought after Left Tackle and was very highly pursued by Philly after Jason Peters went down with a ruptured achilles. Questions about durability have dogged Bell since entering the NFL. He kicks out well so McCoy shouldn’t suffer but Vick may have a few more different colored jerseys in the backfield than he was used to with Peters.
Left Guard Evan Mathis was selected in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He has kicked around, having had stints in Carolina, Miami, Cincinnati and finally with Philadelphia. He has not allowed a sack in the last two years and is known as a very technically sound Guard. He pulls extremely well and is also a very clean player as he has only incurred 3 penalties in the previous two seasons.
Center Jason Kelce was a 6th round Draft Choice of the Eagles in 2011. He jumped right into the starting lineup and played all 16 games. He was only victimized once for a sack in 2011. He has been compared to Jeff Saturday as he is extremely light but makes up for his lack of bulk with superior football intellect and grit.
Right Guard Danny Watkins was a 1st round pick of the Eagles in 2011. He looked completely out of sorts for the first few games before getting a bit more acclimatized to the speed of the professional game. He only allowed 1 sack but had to have help from the Center and Right Tackle on numerous occasions. If he slips, he may be relegated to the bench.
Right Tackle Todd Herremans was selected in the 4th round of the 2005 NFL Draft by Philadelphia. He, along with Jason Peters formed what was widely recognized as the best Tackle duo in the NFL. Herremans is the prototypical blindside protector as he is massive and very strong. He can absolutely stonewall pass rushers but is nimble enough to kick out well and reach the second level quickly.
Now to analyze the numbers…..
Philadelphia ranked 26th in Total Run Blocking in 2011 allowing LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown and Dion Lewis to rumble for a per carry average of 4.54 yards which was better than the NFL average of 4.31. The RB’s were stopped at/or behind the line 25% of their attempts which was dead last in the NFL. They achieved first downs on 3rd/4th down runs 67% of their attempts which was much better than the NFL average of 62%. The Eagles ran the ball only 342 times in 2011 and if they grab the lead in games this year, they will lean on the running game more to control the clock. The RB’s had their least success running behind big Jason Peters as they only attained 2.98 yards per carry but when they went off tackle they had 4.78 yards per carry. From a Fantasy perspective McCoy is Fantasy Gold. He is absolutely dynamite in both standard scoring formats and Point Per Reception leagues. He is one of the Top 3 Fantasy picks in 2012 and won’t disappoint. Ronnie Brown was not resigned so the backup duties are Dion Lewis’ to take. Lewis won’t factor in to your Fantasy plans in 2012.
Philadelphia ranked 11th in Pass Protection in 2011 allowing Michael Vick to be dropped for a sack on only 5.9% of his dropbacks which was better than the NFL average of 6.7%. Vick is a scrambler and will venture outside of the Tackle’s regularly which leads to sacks so 5.9% is pretty decent. Vick is determined to show that he is still one of the top QB’s in the NFL but will need to perform better in 2012. He should be valued in the same realm as Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and other borderline Top 10 QB’s. Wide Receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the two top targets. Maclin has better intrinsic value and should be considered a low end WR2. Jackson is a boom or bust players who can explode for a 80 yard catch and run, but can drop a routine pass. He is more of an emergency starter or a Flex start unless your league values return yardage in which case he will have more value. Tight End Brent Celek had a ho hum season that is decent by Fantasy standards. He caught 62 passes for 811 yards and had 5 TD’s. Solid numbers even though he has never been Vick’s favorite target. He should be a starter in most 12 team leagues and should be drafted accordingly.
Thanks to www.footballoutsiders.com for the statistics.
Next team is the Pittsburgh Steelers