Philadelphia Eagles Film Study: Grading the Offensive Line for Week 2
Welcome back for another week of "Philadelphia Eagles Film Study."
Or, if you're new, glad you're finally checking this out! I mean, what took you so long?
Anyway, once again this week I've watched every single offensive snap (a few times) and graded the Eagles offensive line based on what I saw from the coach's tape.
For every other position group, there are stats one can point to in order to help evaluate certain players, but no such stats exist for offensive linemen. These grades allow us to take a look at how each individual is performing based on visual evidence and evaluation rather than simply going off a gut feeling based on the naked eye.
I aim to be as informative and educational as possible, while also coming to a conclusion on each player broken down by quarter and over the course of the game.
The conclusions may surprise you.
And if you missed Week 1's assessment, feel free to check it out here.
How the Grading System Works
For the very worst of plays—a penalty committed, sack given up, or any awful play in general—a grade of "minus-1" will be earned.
For a blown assignment, lack of effort and things of that nature, a grade of "zero" will be earned.
For a successfully executed block, a grade of "one" will be earned.
A grade of "two" can be earned for a pancake block or an extraordinary effort.
It's important to note that the extremes will be reserved only for special circumstances, and the majority of the grades given will be "zero" or "one."
Once the game is over, the points are added up and divided by the total number of plays, thus giving us the overall grade.
For reference, the grades break down like this:
100-95 is excellent.
94-90 is good.
89-85 is decent.
84-80 is shaky.
79-75 is bad.
74-70 is bench-worthy.
69 or below is worthy of walking papers.
Everyone got it? Alright, let's move on to the grades.
LT King Dunlap
Grade: 85 percent (Decent)
Of the 68 gradable plays, Dunlap only played 40 of them, as he was forced to leave the game early in the third quarter.
So it's fair to call this grade a little incomplete, but it's still a decent sample size. In those 40 snaps, Dunlap was up and down. He scored a 78 in the first quarter. as he twice was given zeroes and was penalized once.
The second and third quarters, however, were much cleaner, as Dunlap was not penalized and was charged with failing to execute his assignment only once in each quarter, earning him a 93 and an 86, respectively.
Oddly enough, of the four times he earned a zero, three came in pass protection and only one came in the run game.
Most, myself included, would have probably guessed that number to be in the other direction.
LG Evan Mathis
Grade: 82 percent (Shaky)
It's safe to say that, of the seven linemen that played for the Eagles in Week 2, Mathis was by far the most disappointing.
Mathis was charged with missing his assignment and given zeroes four times throughout the course of game to go along with committing two penalties, allowing LeSean McCoy to be tackled for a loss and letting Michael Vick get hit once.
What's more disheartening is how Mathis got worse as the game went on and, once again, completely choked in the fourth quarter.
Mathis scored an 89, 87 and 82 through the first three quarters. In the fourth, however, Mathis scored a ghastly 69 percent, thanks in large part to committing one of his penalties and allowing Vick to get hit in the final 15 minutes.
Everyone must be counted on to step up in the fourth quarter, but through two games this season, Mathis has totally fallen apart both times.
C Jason Kelce
Grade: 97 percent (Excellent)
Kelce was as close to perfect as he possibly could have been. He was able to play only 37 snaps, but only once did I feel as though he got beat badly enough to earn a poor grade, and he was also not charged with a negative play.
Kelce was getting to the second level and finishing his blocks, even performing admirably against Haloti Ngata.
Unfortunately, Kelce has been put on the injured-reserve list, and this will be the last opportunity I have to grade him this season.
At least he went out on a high note.
I hope he doesn't shave.
RG Danny Watkins
Grade: 91 percent (Good)
For the second consecutive week, Watkins grades out in the lower 90s, which, if you refer to your grading sheet at the beginning, is a good showing.
Watkins earned zeroes only twice but did allow Vick to get hit twice. While it's inexcusable to allow a shot on Vick, Watkins' problem is very fixable.
Simply put, he must finish his blocks. Watkins starts off technically sound and controls his men but for some reason doesn't feel as though he can finish his assignments off and put them in the ground. It could be a fear of being penalized or just quick instances of his inexperience taking over, but it's something that must be corrected and can be fixed in short order.
Watkins catches a lot of heat, but let's not forget he has now played in only 14 games in his career. Of course there are going to be hiccups along the way for a guy who was drafted during a lockout, was late getting into camp and has yet to even put in a full season.
But with all that said, I still don't have a problem calling Watkins the best lineman the Eagles have.
RT Todd Herremans
Grade: 91 percent (Good)
From Week 1 to Week 2, Herremans was obviously the most improved, as he rebounded from a putrid showing against the Cleveland Browns that earned him a 74 percent.
Only twice did Herremans score zeroes, but he let Vick get hit once and was the only lineman charged with allowing a sack.
Herremans is extremely frustrating to watch. He will go consecutive series without messing up a single thing and look like a Pro Bowl guy. He gets on his blocks, finishes them and is technically sound.
But when he messes up, it is the ugliest thing you'll ever see.
It's not small things here or there like you see, and would expect, from a young guy like Watkins. Herremans has been around for quite some time but still finds ways not only to miss blocks, but to miss them entirely.
There are instances in which he won't even get a hand on his man and acts as though it's the first time he's ever seen a football field.
Brian Dawkins once said that flashes of brilliance just mean you're not working hard enough. He was talking about former Eagles safety Clinton Hart at the time, but perhaps this could apply to Herremans now.
LT Demetress Bell
Grade: 82 percent (Shaky)
Bell was supposed to be the guy taking over for Jason Peters this season. He was going to be the guy to step into those big shoes and get to within one size of filling them.
That didn't happen. He lost his spot to Dunlap during training camp and was inactive Week 1.
Week 2 brought about an obviously tense moment, as Bell was forced to step in for Dunlap in the third quarter and every fan's mind raced with the horrid play that plagued Bell's offseason.
Bell, however, surprised us all and performed admirably given the circumstances. He came off the bench cold and, although there were a few bumps in the road, got the job done. It's a good thing, too, considering Bell is likely to start Week 3, when the Eagles take on a tough Arizona Cardinals defense.
Bell earned a zero once to go along with one penalty and allowing a tackle for a loss. His 82 percent translates to "shaky," but given the circumstances, I think the Eagles and the fans will take it.
C Dallas Reynolds
Grade: 94 percent (Good)
If Bell performed admirably given the situation, then Reynolds was nothing short of incredible.
Reynolds was given zeroes only twice, and both instances can be forgiven and then corrected before Week 3.
One time, Reynolds was pushed into the backfield—by Haloti Ngata.
I think we can all agree it's just not fair to come into your first real NFL experience having to face a monster like Ngata. But with that said, Reynolds gave up his ground only once.
A second time, Reynolds clearly missed a blitz and had the line slide right when it should have been sliding left to pick up the blitzing corner. Reynolds missed the blitz, and Vick was promptly sacked.
Those occurrences aside, I saw a lot from Reynolds to give me hope moving forward without Kelce.
Most of the time, the line calls were correct, so the mental side of it seems like it's just going to need a little more work—something he'll get plenty of as he goes into the remaining 14 weeks preparing as the starting center.
Physically, Reynolds looks like he can do almost everything Kelce can, with an extra 25-30 pounds packed on him. Reynolds reached, down-blocked and even pulled a couple times. What I saw was very encouraging.
There are bound to be growing pains, and Reynolds might not have the ceiling Kelce has, but I'm excited to see him moving forward, and everyone in Philly should be, too.