The emphasis became more on blocking a zone and allowing LeSean McCoy to find his own hole rather than the linemen having assigned defenders to block and giving McCoy an assigned hole to hit as is the traditional fashion.
Because of the new philosophy, the type of lineman had to change with it.
The bigger guys Andy Reid kept around in the past—Nick Cole, Jamaal Jackson, Max Jean-Gilles, etc.—were no longer useful because they didn't have the athleticism to run Mudd's scheme and were replaced by the lighter lineup the Eagles used last year of Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, and Todd Herremans.
The switch was successful, as evidenced by McCoy's ridiculous numbers and the overall effectiveness of the ground game.
And with four of those five back, the Eagles' running game should be just fine, right?
Well, maybe not.
With Peters likely out for all of 2012 thanks to a twice-ruptured achilles, the Eagles have turned to Demetress Bell at left tackle and, suffice it to say, Bell is not Peters.
When the Eagles tried to run the sprint draw—a play that became a staple of the running game in 2011—against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Thursday night's preseason opener, Bell was left in the dust by his much quicker teammates.
Where Peters would have been 10-15 yards down the field blocking the second or third level already, Bell had yet to even flip his hips and get a hand on the guy in front of him.
I'm not trying to say I expected Bell to step in and make us forget Peters. That would be silly. Peters is clearly one of the best offensive linemen in the game and blows most out of the water when talking pure athleticism.
However, I did expect Bell to be able to execute the blocking scheme and, after what I saw last night, my confidence is waning quickly.
This all comes, of course, with the disclaimer that it was the first preseason game and there are several factors that could have presented themselves and culminated in the sub-par performance from Bell.
After all, the entire starting offense was nothing to write home about.
But even with that said, there are just some times when, even in preseason, it's hard to ignore the signs. And right now, all signs point to some big, big trouble for the Eagles' ground game if they don't find a way to hide Bell's obvious deficiencies within Mudd's scheme.
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