Eagles Extra crew breaks down Eagles-Saints matchup
According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles' offensive line graded out at plus-100.1 in run blocking. (USA Today Images)
The Eagles' offensive line did a poor job protecting Nick Foles in the 24-22 win in Dallas, allowing five sacks and five more QB pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, but the unit again did a terrific job blocking in the run game.
The Eagles averaged 4.03 yards per carry and finished a clutch, 11-play drive late in the fourth quarter by opening running lanes for Bryce Brown, who rushed for a six-yard first down then a five-yard touchdown. Nine of the 11 plays were runs.
It's nothing new for the best run blocking unit in the NFL. Pro Football Focus, which assigns a grade for each player and team on every play of every game, had the Eagles as by far the best O-line to run behind.
The Eagles graded out at plus-100.1 in run blocking, with the next-best team, San Francisco, checking in at plus-39.5.
Inside, outside, doesn't matter.
Guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans graded out as the two best interior run blockers in the NFL. Jason Kelce was third among centers.
Among tackles, Jason Peters was fourth in the run game and Lane Johnson was 12th. You might laugh at this, but former Eagle King Dunlap was actually the top-ranked run blocking tackle in the NFL. Dunlap enjoyed a career year in Mike McCoy's system out in San Diego.
For good measure, Brent Celek was the top-ranked tight end in run blocking. You rarely see such excellence across the board.
The Eagles didn't do as solid a job in pass protection. Herremans allowed 35 QB hurries according to PFF, second-most in the NFL. Johnson allowed 40, which was seventh-most among tackles.
Pro Bowl snubs Kelce and Mathis were still among the best in the game in pass blocking, however.
The Eagles this season had their most rushing yards since 1949. It was a combination of having an elite offensive line, arguably the game's best running back and a Chip Kelly offense predicated on athleticism and space.
On Monday, former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook said on Philly Sports Talk that Kelly's second year will truly tell us how efficient his offense can be (see story).
"Does this offense work after everyone in the NFL, all the defensive personnel, all the head coaches in the NFL, has had a year in the offseason to study it?" Westbrook asked.
“And now can you make the same thing work again? That’s going to be the true test.”
As long as the Eagles continue to execute at the line of scrimmage and as long as Shady is forcing more missed tackles than any back not named Adrian Peterson or Marshawn Lynch, this run-based offense will continue to thrive.
There are three parts to the Eagles' success on the ground and the O-line has been the most underrated one.