Getting the line on the Eagles Super Bowl hopes

by Marc Narducci | Feb 6, 2023
Getting the line on the Eagles Super Bowl hopes
It’s one of the oldest cliches but so appropriate when the Eagles face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona. Football games and in turn championships are won at the line of scrimmage.

For all the strengths of the Eagles, one has to begin at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, starting on offense.

The Eagles had three Pro Bowl players on their offensive line, center Jason Kelce, right tackle Lane Johnson and left guard Landon Dickerson. Looking closer, Kelce and Johnson are potential (likely?) Hall of Fame players.

The other two starting linemen are left tackle Jordan Mailata and right guard Isaac Seumalo.

Mailata enjoyed a solid regular season and has taken his game up in the postseason and Seumalo has been an unsung performer.

According to Pro Football Focus, in the Eagles’ 31-7 NFC championship win over the San Francisco 49ers, the line gave up just five pressure, not a single sack or hit from 27 passing plays.

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Combined, the line gave up just five pressures — and not a single sack or hit — from 27 passing plays.

In two playoff games, the Eagles also rushed for 416 yards on 88 carries (4.7 avg.) and seven touchdowns.

Running backs, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott along with quarterback Jalen Hurts are all accomplished runners, but they benefited from the huge holes made by the offensive line.

So whether in pass blocking or run blocking, the Eagles have been dominant, a credit to the players and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, considered among the best in the business.

And the same dominance has happened on the other side of the ball.
The Eagles are currently third all-time for single-season sacks (counting playoffs) with 78.

Here are the top three teams:
1984 Bears 82 sacks
1985 Bears 80 sacks
2022 Eagles 78 sacks

That is a heady company, especially since the ‘84 Bears are considered one of the best of all time.

The Eagles put constant heat on opposing quarterbacks. Can Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahones, with an ankle that is not expected to be 100 percent, survive the rush?

Haason Reddick has been especially dominant. After recording 16 regular-season sacks, he has been even better in the postseason. In the two playoff wins, Reddick has 3.5 sacks, eight tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and four quarterback hits.

Now it must be noted that the Chiefs are very good on both sides of the ball, but they don’t measure up to the Eagles. In the Chief's win over Cincinnati, defensive tackle Chris Jones had two sacks, three tackles for loss and five quarterback hits. It was a dominating performance and he and the Chiefs line will surely test the Eagles.

And the Chiefs have a strong offensive line, which includes three Pro Bowl selections – left tackle Orlando Brown, left guard Joe Thuney and center Creed Humphrey.

So the Eagles will have their work cut out on both lines of scrimmage, but so will the Chiefs.

The Eagles have manhandled teams on both sides of the ball all season and in addition to having the edge, they also have the game’s two best cornerbacks, Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

Kansas City has a banged-up receiving corps so that should be an advantage for the Eagles, who will have to account for tight end Travis Kelce. In the two playoff games, Kelce has 21 receptions for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

If Kelce is contained (it will be hard to stop him) it could be a long day for the Chiefs because Slay and Bradberry can make it hard for the receivers to get separation.

Is Kansas City a formidable opponent? No doubt. Could the Chiefs win? Of course.

Yet from what the Eagles have shown, if the dominance on both sides of the line of scrimmage continues, they should earn their second Super Bowl victory in five years.

Author: Marc Narducci


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