The Eagles have finally found the breaking point for their hobbled offensive line.
In the 30-28 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the Eagles' offensive front, which features backups to backups at this point, was doomed. The group was without four of its starters going into the season, leaving Jason Kelce as the lone experienced member to protect Carson Wentz.
The Eagles are missing Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Peters, Andre Dillard, and Matt Pryor and have had the same five-man group for consecutive weeks only once this season.
The fifth iteration of the offensive line, with Jamon Brown at right guard and Jack Driscoll at right tackle, was possibly the worst version yet. Wentz was hit 16 times on 40 pass attempts. He was sacked six times, including three by Ravens defensive tackle Calais Campbell, who dominated Brown on multiple occasions.
“We’ve had some injuries here before; obviously this is on another level,” Kelce said. “I haven’t ever been a part of something this drastic, I guess, in my career, but you’re always trying to overcome this stuff.”
Brown was called into action just three weeks after the team signed him off the Chicago Bears' practice squad. Pryor, the right guard the last two weeks, was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list because someone close to him tested positive for the coronavirus earlier in the week.
“J.B. has been here for a few weeks," Kelce said. “He’s been trying to learn everything, we’re trying to build that chemistry. But I think that he did a good job of going in there and battling.”
Kelce added that Brown was often matched up against Campbell one-on-one because of the Ravens' frequent blitzing, which gave Baltimore a favorable matchup.
“The other hard part about it is they blitz so much, it’s not like you’re playing in some weeks where you can apply help,” Kelce said. “When they’re blitzing zero [coverage] and sending guys all over the place, you really have to honor the numbers, which leads to a lot of one-on-one matchups, which obviously when you have a really good player you try not to leave them one-on-one as much as we had to with Calais.”
The Eagles were able to overcome the first and second wave of injuries to the line. They were without Brooks, Dillard, and Johnson for the season opener against Washington, in which they surrendered eight sacks, but they had been much better in recent weeks.
Jordan Mailata and Nate Herbig have both emerged as potential long-term starters, and Driscoll and Pryor have held their own when called upon. But the injuries continue to pile up ahead of the game Thursday night against the New York Giants.
Driscoll, making his second start, left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. He was replaced by Brett Toth, who made his NFL debut after the Eagles claimed him off waivers on Oct. 7. Toth and Mailata were the only two healthy tackles left Sunday.
“Toth battled his tail off, Driscoll battled his tail off,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “We have to evaluate quickly, obviously, the injury situation and see where we’re at this week on a short week. It’s just something that, again, we are getting kind of thin at the position, and I’m hopeful that a couple of these offensive line guys that have been hurt, maybe we can get them back this week."