It was strange to watch last weekend’s Philadelphia Eagles defeat of the Tennessee Titans back for this column. The game was obviously one-sided from a scoring perspective, but I expected the Philly offensive line to be more dominant in the run. They struggled a bit to run the ball, which surprised me. But while it was a little shocking, it’s not too concerning because they were able to hit so many big plays in the passing game. Three of the Eagles’ five touchdowns were 25 yards or longer.
If you’re going to throw the ball deep successfully, you obviously have to hold up in pass protection. The Eagles’ offensive line was good at giving Jalen Hurts plenty of time to let his receivers get downfield.
This play was actually reversed into an incompletion because the receiver’s foot was out of bounds, but the protection is there. The Titans bring an extra man here, so every Eagles blocker is one-on-one with a defender and they all handle their business. The only guy who comes close to Hurts is the defender trying to shoot Lane Johnson (65) at right tackle. He gets a little nudge, but Johnson is in complete control here when the quarterback throws it. If you’re going to bullrush from the defensive end position, you need to get more push than this to affect the game at all.
I really like what right guard Isaac Seumalo (56) is doing here. See how quickly he is able to redirect outside when his defender goes that direction. It is someone who plays with light feet and good balance on his first passing set. Also notice how locked his arms are when the defender goes to jump. It’s controlling your distance and controlling your man. Really good stuff.
This was the very next play, and it was not ruled an incompletion after review. That capped Philadelphia’s first 75-yard touchdown drive. The Titans aren’t overwhelming on this one, and Hurts has even more time and space to find AJ Brown, whose man was knocked down. This looks like something from a review practice on Friday.
This time let’s start with left tackle Jordan Mailata (68), who played a very good game this week. Look at the first kick set and how he almost slides out to the point to meet the edge rusher. It is a large man who moves smoothly. It almost looks like his first set is so good that Bud Dupree is giving up the play.
My guess is that with Hurts’ mobility, the Titans defenders were coached to rush very conservatively last Sunday. If you don’t feel like you can beat your man clean, the defensive coordinator wants you to settle down and try to keep the quarterback in the pocket. What happened was that the Eagles tackles were so good off the snap that you ended up with a lot of plays where the edge rushers just stared at Hurts as he threw 30-yard bombs from clean pockets.
Left guard Landon Dickerson (69) also had a very good game. He completely locks his guy down here and I can’t remember a single press he gave up. His very fine season continued this week.
Here’s another long touchdown to Brown, and this is where it started to get a little repetitive for the Titans defense, I’m sure. The Titans bring some pressure and even have an unblocked guy when middle linebacker (Dylan Cole, 53) picks up the rush late when he sees the back (Miles Sanders, 26) blocking. But no one gets close to Hurts and he is able to throw another deep throw.
It’s really jarring to see how quick off the ball Jason Kelce (62) is sometimes. He’s been playing for 12 years, and he still looks like the fastest lineman on either side of the ball. Obviously it helps to be the one actually snapping the ball, but I see a lot of centers and none of them move like that. He is out of position with both hands on the nose tackle before the defender can get out of the stance. Kelce is truly a special player.
And that’s why I wanted to show this piece. Kelce destroys this guy (Kevin Strong, 97) here. This piece looks like it uses special effects from an early 2000s kung fu movie. You just don’t see NFL defensive linemen being launched like this. Kelce does it by getting into the double team insanely fast and hitting the defender right on the hip to somehow elevate him. Mailata is lucky that the defender didn’t land on his knees with the amount of distance and airtime he got. I’ve seen this GIF hundreds of times in the last 48 hours. I should probably also point out that this could and should have been another deep touchdown pass.
And that does it for this week. It was a dominant performance from an offensive line, just with pass blocking instead of in the ground game. Still, this offensive line continues to roll.