The 12th iteration of the Eagles’ offensive line might just be a keeper.
During the Eagles’ 24-21 win against the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles’ offensive front didn’t surrender a sack, something it hasn’t done since Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Saints came into Lincoln Financial Field ranked fourth in total sacks and fifth in pressure rate. Their defense ranked No. 1 in yards allowed and was coming off a game in which they had three sacks against the Atlanta Falcons.
Hurts dropped back more than 30 times in his first career start, and was only hit three times on those passing attempts.
“[On the] offensive line, this is the No. 1 defense in the National Football League,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “They did a really nice job against that front.”
The Eagles’ offensive front has been marred by injuries all season and featured Jordan Mailata, Nate Herbig, and Jack Driscoll on Sunday, three players who had 18 combined starts before the game.
Jason Peters joined Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard, and Sua Opeta on the list of the team’s offensive linemen out for the season earlier this week. The 38-year-old veteran was shut down because of a toe injury that required surgery. Herbig, who started the team’s first seven games before getting benched, filled in for Peters at right guard.
Pass protection has been a weak spot for the Eagles all season. Barring something unprecedented happening Monday night, Carson Wentz’s 48 sacks will still lead the league going into Week 15.
Part of the high sack numbers were caused by Wentz’s tendency to hold onto the ball longer than most, 39 of Wentz’s sacks have come when he’s held the ball longer than 2.5 seconds. Still, some of it falls on an offensive line that has constantly shuffled starters each week.
Pederson said the combination of Hurts’ athleticism and the offensive line’s overall performance contributed to the lack of sacks for the Saints.
“Great protection and the ability that Jalen has to escape the pocket, I think those were the two biggest things,” Pederson said. “We did a great job with their blitz packages. It was an extensive blitz package, backs are involved, tight ends were involved, but I thought the offensive line, for the most part, blocked pretty well.”
Hurts, who completed 17 passes on 30 attempts and ran for 106 yards, said the linemen made it possible for him to get out of the pocket.
“Going out there and maybe extending sometimes always helps, I think up front we did a great job allowing those things to happen,” Hurts said. " ... The big guys up front blocked their tails off all game.”