On the eye test, the Eagles' offensive line last season was a lot better than the injured mess that was the Eagles 2012 OL. However, while they were tremendous in the run game, the Eagles OL did experience their share of protection issues in 2013.
Before the season began, Jason Peters said that the OL wanted to give up the fewest sacks in Eagles history, which was 22, in 1981. In 2013, including the playoffs, the Eagles allowed 48 sacks, or 27 more than Peters' preseason goals.
Over the next few days, we'll chart all 48 of them, to better determine went wrong on their breakdowns. After we've charted all the sacks, we'll provide more comprehensive analysis, but for now, let's just look at each sack individually, starting with the Eagles' first 4 games, when they went 1-3.
Here is my tally from the first 4 games, in terms of the number of times each player was responsible for sacks.
In chronological order, with a running tally in parentheses:
This looked like a miscommunication. It appeared as though Johnson was expecting Herremans to block LB Ryan Kerrigan (91), but instead, Herremans doubled NT Barry Cofield with Kelce. That left Johnson to have to contend with both Kerrigan and blitzing LB Perry Riley (56).
When Herremans blocked Cofield, the unsuspecting Johnson was left in the dust by Kerrigan. Vick was able to duck away from Kerrigan, but could not escape Riley (56) who followed right behind unblocked. If the Eagles had read this play correctly, Herremans probably would have blocked Kerrigan, and Johnson would have blocked Riley. Instead, Herremans blocked Cofield, while Johnson and Kelce blocked nobody.
This wasn't a matter of somebody just flat being beaten. It was a miscommunication. For the sake of assigning a sack total, we'll give a half sack each to Johnson and Herremans.
Here's another mis-read by Herremans. At the snap the two down lineman will slant to the left side of the Eagles' formation. The defensive lineman lined up on Herremans' outside shoulder will cross Herremans' face and loop all the way around to the gap in between Kelce and Mathis.
Herremans mirrors him too far, opening up a wide lane for Ryan Kerrigan to run through untouched.
And Vick is meat.
The offensive line gave Vick plenty of time to throw.
Vick was eventually flushed from the pocket, and instead of easily throwing the ball away he was pushed out of bounds by the safety for a 4 yard loss.
Not a whole lot to figure out here. Herremans is bull rushed by Jarius Wynn and pushed deep into the pocket.
Wynn then disengages, and bang.
Vick has a great pocket to throw from.
But his feet are never really set, and he's never in a good position to make a throw. Eventually, he thinks about throwing and tries to hold up, but can't keep his grip on the ball.
This would have been a "tuck rule" play, if the ball hadn't gone backwards. Vick now has to chase after the ball, which rolls out of bounds for a loss of 13.
This screenshot is worth a thousand words. Vick has a clean pocket, and Jason Avant is going to be open out of his break. Not WIDE OPEN, but certainly open, possibly for a nice gain.
Instead, Vick holds onto the ball for 6.4 seconds, before eventually running into one of his own guys and falling down. Missed opportunity.
First, a few things to note at the snap. Vick is going to receive the snap at the Eagles 48 yard line. Riley Cooper is running a go route, with DeSean Jackson leaking underneath into the flat. Avant is running a 12 yard in route, which will occupy the deep safety.
Vick drops an additional 5 yards, and is now 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Peters gets an initial shot on Tamba Hali, who is trying a speed rush, but asking a LT to block for a spot 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage against a premier talent like Hali is a tough ask.
But look at what is developing downfield. Riley Cooper has 1-on-1 coverage down the field (circled), on 3rd and 10! Thank you for that ill-advised coverage, Chiefs. Put it up, and give Cooper a chance to make a play. As we saw later in the season, Cooper can make plays down the field. It's there. Throw it! Or at least hit DeSean in the flat and let him make a play. That's there too.
Instead, Vick hangs onto the ball, tries to run for it, and is tracked down by Hali for a 1 yard loss.
Peters gets the half sack because he was beaten to some degree, but I'm inclined to put more responsibility on Vick for this one.
Pretty easy one here. Johnson overplays the speed rush.
Houston dips back inside and cleans up.
Johnson was beaten badly here.
This was two plays later from the play above, and once again Justin Houston got a sack. When you watch this play, it looks like Lane Johnson was at fault twice in one series, and after the play, Mike Mayock of NFL Network said "The tackles are struggling." I disagree, at least on this play. Johnson didn't look all that pretty trying to block Justin Houston on this play, but he was effective enough to do his job. This was just another miscommunication.
The Chiefs are trying to get Kelce to block Dontari Poe, playing the 1-technique, and they went their 3-tech locked up on Evan Mathis. They will then send Derrick Johnson (56) on a delayed blitz through the gap in between Kelce and Mathis.
The play develops just as planned for the Chiefs, as they get Kelce on Poe (92), and Mathis on 94. One thing to note here is Herremans' eyes. He's trying to keep an eye on the rookie against Justin Houston, but so far, Johnson is in good position.
Kelce sees the blitz, and thinking that he has help from Herremans on Poe (92), comes off of Poe, and delivers an outstanding block on the blitzing Derrick Johnson (56). Tremendous job by Kelce here. Unfortunately, Herremans did not see 56 coming, and has simultaneously left 92 to go help Lane Johnson, who doesn't really need it.
Poe, who had 2 blockers on him a second ago, now has 0, and has a free lane to Vick.
Vick retreats to avoid Poe, runs into Justin Houston for the sack, and Lane Johnson catches the criticism.
Lane Johnson was heavily criticized after this game, but on this play, he did his job. We'll give the sack to Herremans here for not reading the delayed blitz.
Bad snap, and Vick is toast.
Garbage time, and the Chiefs have their ears pinned back and are attacking the QB. Justin Houston smacks Lane Johnson's hands down and gets around the corner for the sack/fumble.
Shaun Phillips gets around the corner on Lane.
And Vick is meat.
Vick has plenty of time to make a throw, and he has 2 receivers open on a 3-man route. Avant is open on an out route, and Cooper is WIDE open on an in route.
Again, this is mostly on Vick, who has options, but just doesn't throw it for whatever reason. However, it's not as if Celek did an awesome job trying to block Akeem Ayers.
Nobody open down the field, and the offensive line did a good job picking up an array of twists and blitzes, before a blitzer finally got home. Denver simply defensed this one perfectly. The screenshot shows the receivers deep into their routes (and well covered), and Vick's pocket about to shrink.