The Eagles had arguably the best offensive line in football four years ago, when the five-man unit propelled former running back LeSean McCoy to more than 1,600 yards and protected Nick Foles as he had a historic season under center.
But then the unit was broken apart, and holes up front tortured the Birds for three straight seasons — due in part to bad roster moves, injuries and suspensions.
Holdovers from that spectacular line Jason Kelce, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are back, healthy and confident heading into 2017. And the guard spots are finally deep and talented with Isaac Seumalo, Allen Barbre, Stephen Wisniewski and Chance Warmack fighting tooth and nail for a starting role.
Last week, Johnson — who is off of illegal supplements and at his heaviest — had shamless confidence, as the right tackle brooded: “A lot of people look at Dallas, and Green Bay,” Johnson said. “But, as far as talent goes, this is the most talented group that we’ve had. I think we have the chance to be the best, or at least top in the top-five.”
A few days later after the Eagles finished practice at OTAs, the team’s center Jason Kelce also brimmed with positivity.
“I think we can be as good or better than any of those guys,” Kelce said fresh off his second Pro Bowl trip in 2016. “I think we have tons of great offensive linemen in the room right now, I think we have the best tackle combination of any team in the NFL [in Johnson and Peters].”
Priority No. 1 is surely to be stout in the pass game and protect Carson Wentz, who was sacked 33 times last season — just about the middle of the road for an NFL line. But Kelce is quite confident that the varied rushing attack potentially posed by Philly could help the team post some impressive numbers on the ground as well.
“You can try and imagine yourself as a defensive player,” Kelce said. “One play you’re trying to get your head across and make sure you put everything you have into making a tackle on LeGarrette [Blount] and the next you have Darren Sproles or some of these other cats making you miss on a dime. It’s nice to have varying backs like that.”