The Philadelphia Eagles are a team with a multitude of problems and issues midway through the 2012 season.
Head coach Andy Reid has flirted with benching quarterback Michael Vick in favor of Nick Foles, he fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo earlier in the season and he has said all facets of this team are up for evaluation (h/t Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk).
However, after watching the horrendous play of the Eagles offensive line on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, it has became readily apparent that losing tackle Jason Peters to injury may have been what truly set the table for ruining Philadelphia's season.
Peters position has been filled by two individuals this season: Demetress Bell and King Dunlap. Neither player is of a good enough caliber to become a regular starter at the NFL level and that has been demonstrated with each passing week.
The numbers say that Bell and Dunlap have allowed a combined zero sacks this season. That may be the most misleading statistic in all of football. Defensive ends constantly force insurmountable pressure off the edge as they either race past or bulldoze these two slow-footed tackles.
Philadelphia's only recluse without Peters has been to support these replacements with additional blockers in the form of tight ends and running backs. This clearly takes away weapons for Vick to throw to and restricts an Eagles offense that has struggled mightily this season.
However, it is Peters' run-blocking skills that are most glaringly missing from Philadelphia's offensive line. Peters is one of the best run blockers in all of football. Last year, the Eagles knew they could simply run behind him whenever they needed to convert in a short-yardage situation. He always won at the point of attack and constantly pushed defenders back on impact.
Look at this example of Peters running downfield on a screen play as a showcase of the athleticism and versatility he brings to an offensive line:
Peters can extend plays and is a viable asset even as running back LeSean McCoy makes his way up the sideline. Could anyone even imagine Dunlap attempting something like this?
Dunlap and Bell are causing false starts and holding penalties at an alarmingly high rate and are severely limiting the potential of the Eagles offense. The blame rarely falls on offensive linemen, but that is firmly where it belongs.
Peters is an All-Pro tackle for a reason. He is one of the best all-around blockers in football and without him Philadelphia's offense is a mere shell of its former self.
Vick knows opponents are blitzing, but he has no hope of stopping them. Monday Night Football has shown a national audience the tremendous faults along the Eagles offensive line, and these are problems that cannot be solved by switching quarterbacks or firing a defensive coordinator.
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