A good offensive line can often make or break a team's success in the NFL. Last season, the Eagles' offensive line was a surprising strength. It was expected to be one of the team's weaknesses but ended up being one of its few strengths. They struggled out of the gates, but then they meshed and bought into Howard Mudd's zone blocking system.
The Eagles also discovered a diamond in the rough in guard Evan Mathis. The journeyman linesman had been on several different teams throughout his career, but he found a home in Philadelphia. He turned into an All-Pro thanks to Howard Mudd. The Eagles decided to give him a lucrative contract extension to help bolster the line for the next few years.
The Eagles started two rookies on the offensive line for the majority of last season. Jason Kelce was the starting center and Danny Watkins, the Eagles' 2011 first-round selection, was inserted into the starting lineup following the bye week. It should be expected that both of these players can make a big jump in year two to make this offensive line even better.
The Eagles started Todd Herremans and Jason Peters at the tackle positions last year and both played exceptionally well. Herremans was rewarded with a new contract while Peters, widely considered the best left tackle in the NFL, tore his Achilles tendon during his offseason conditioning program.
The loss of Peters will be felt, there is no question about it. The Eagles love to run the ball to the left side of the field, which could effect LeSean McCoy's production. Michael Vick is left handed so it isn't his blind side, but it's imperative that he stay upright.
The Eagles do need to be given credit for getting the best available replacement in free agency. Demetress Bell is an athletic tackle from Buffalo who has yet to reach his full potential. If Howard Mudd can get the most out of him, he will be able to fill in more than adequately.
This is an extremely pivotal season for the Eagles. Much of the pressure is being put on players such as Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Nnamdi Asomugha to win now. They might not be as flashy, but the offensive line is equally if not more important. If the Eagles are going to win a lot of football games in 2012, they need to be able to run the ball effectively with McCoy and keep Vick standing up. That begins and ends with the big guys up front.