Kelly on Eagles' O-line: 'We've got to address it'

Kelly on Eagles' O-line: 'We've got to address it'
September 29, 2013, 10:45 pm
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Sacked by the Broncos three times Sunday, Michael Vick has been sacked 14 times this season. (USA Today Images)

DENVER – It was supposed to be a strength of this 2013 Eagles team. Instead, the offensive line has been a problem.

An increasingly worrisome problem.
 
The Eagles are hammering out yards on an insane pace, but they’re not scoring touchdowns and the hits on Michael Vick are mounting.
 
“I do know this, and we’ve got to address it: We have to protect him better,” head coach Chip Kelly said Sunday night after the Eagles’ ghastly 52-20 loss to the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“We’ve got times where he is at the top of his drop, and he’s sticking his foot into the ground, and there’s pressure on him. That’s not Mike.”
 
Vick was sacked three times Sunday – all in the second half - and absorbed numerous hits before, during and after he threw the football.
 
He’s already been sacked 14 times in four games, fourth-most in the NFL and most in the NFC.
 
Last year, with an offensive line that at times featured King Dunlap, Demetress Bell, Dallas Reynolds, Jake Scott and Danny Watkins, the Eagles allowed 3.0 sacks per game.
 
So far this year, with everybody relatively healthy, they’re allowing 3.5.
 
Vick has been sacked nine times the last two weeks, and that matches the most sacks the Eagles have allowed in consecutive games since the end of the 2010 season.
 
“I would like to have more time,” Vick said. “But I have to go with what I got and keep fighting … and working with those guys every day.”
 
Because of the steady Denver pressure, which increased gradually as the game went on, Vick wasn’t able to look deep. He didn’t have time.
 
Nine of his 14 completions went to backs or tight ends, and receivers DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant combined for just five catches for 66 yards.
 
Vick didn’t complete a pass to a receiver longer than 20 yards.
 
“The bad thing is it’s the second straight week we’ve struggled as an offensive line from a standpoint of protecting for Mike,” center Jason Kelce said.
 
“We did a pretty decent job in the first half, but in the second half he got hit way too many times. That’s what film study’s for.”
 
Rookie first-round pick Lane Johnson has struggled a bit the last two weeks after a promising start. That’s understandable, but it’s also a concern.
 
“Lane’s going to keep getting better,” Kelce said. “He’s a hard worker, very athletic, has all the tools. He’s just mentally got to square some things up, and I think he’ll be fine.”
 
Evan Mathis, a Pro Bowl alternate, committed a holding penalty Sunday in the second quarter that wiped out a 19-yard pass to Jackson, and Johnson committed a holding call in the first quarter when the Eagles were in the red zone. They settled for a field goal.
 
The Eagles are 1-3 and have scored just four touchdowns in their last two games, but they have been moving the ball.

They’re the first team in NFL history to net 430 yards or more in each of their first four games, and their 1,835 net yards is eighth-most in NFL history four games into a season.
 
“I think offensively, there’s a lot of optimism,” Kelce said. “An extreme amount of optimism. Give Mike a little bit better time, we keep run blocking the way we’ve been run blocking and this thing could easily turn around big for us.”

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