Paul Domowitch: McCoy could miss Peters the most this season
By Paul Domowitch
I'm not sure what LeSean McCoy gave Jason Peters as a thank-you gift for helping him make first-team All-Pro last season, but it wasn't enough.
Peters was the best offensive lineman in pro football last season, and nobody benefited more from his outstanding blocking than McCoy, who rushed for 1,309 yards and scored an NFL-high 17 rushing touchdowns.
That includes quarterback Michael Vick. Peters, who also was a first-team All-Pro selection, did a very good job of protecting Vick, allowing only three sacks, one hit and 17 hurries,
according to Profootballfocus.com.
But he was an absolute beast opening holes for McCoy, whether it was taking out the right end on a draw, sealing off the edge on a stretch play, using his amazing athleticism to cut across and take out a defensive tackle on a backside block or just rolling up his sleeves and doing the heavy lifting on a third-and-1.
"In goal-line situations last year, it got to a point where they just moved Peters over to right tight end or wherever it was and ran right behind him," an NFL scout said. "They didn't even try to hide it.
"They just don't have anybody like that this year. So I don't think [McCoy] is going to be nearly as effective without Peters."
We shall see. Peters is expected to miss the entire season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. The guy they brought in to replace him, Demetress Bell, has apparently mistaken Howard Mudd's blocking technique for nuclear physics. That leaves King Dunlap as the last man standing at left tackle, unless Mudd wants to start playing musical chairs with his line, which he doesn't.
Mudd isn't a big fan of Dunlap. But until the light goes on for the more-athletic Bell, Dunlap is all he has.
The Eagles can use tight ends and running backs to give Dunlap some help with the murderer's row of edge-rushers he will face this season. The fact that Vick is a lefty and Dunlap won't be protecting his blindside also helps.
But the running game is a different story. That is where the absence of Peters really will be felt. Last year, according to PFF, McCoy averaged an astounding 7.5 yards per carry running behind Peters.
"Obviously, Jason Peters not being here hurts," center Jason Kelce said. "I mean, he's arguably the best offensive tackle in the league.
"But I think every single other player on the offensive line has gotten better. I'm confident that we still can produce at a very high level from an offensive-line standpoint."
McCoy averaged 5.6 yards per carry on second down last season, 5.8 on third down. That's pretty damn good. With Peters' considerable help, he was the league's best short-yardage runner. He converted 39 of 51 situations of 2 yards or less into first downs or touchdowns.
During their four-game "fool's gold" December win streak, he was 14-for-17. Nine of his 17 rushing touchdowns were 2 yards or less. Can he be just as effective with Dunlap or even Bell at left tackle?
"The offensive line is a unit," left guard Evan Mathis said. "It's not a bunch of individuals. Our blocks usually are done together. We communicate with each other. We have to. We have to be on the same page. And we know what to expect out of each other.
"There won't be any drastic changes based on who's in there [at left tackle]. We're all trained to do the same thing. Jason Peters is the best left tackle in football. He's not out there. But King Dunlap is a more than sufficient replacement. He can do what's asked of him."
Starting Sunday, we'll find out whether he's right.
Somebody to lean on
The Eagles' best offseason defensive acquisition wasn't two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans or high-round rookies Mychal Kendricks or Fletcher Cox.
It was Todd Bowles.
With defensive coordinator Juan Castillo still a work in progress, Bowles, the team's new secondary coach, was an excellent hire by head coach Andy Reid.
Bowles gives Castillo somebody to bounce ideas off of. Somebody who has been there and done that, someone he can lean on.
Castillo didn't have that last year. Jim Washburn is one of the best defensive line coaches in the business. But he's not a sounding board.
Give him some players and he'll teach them how to raise holy hell on a quarterback. But he couldn't care less about the rest of the defense.
The linebackers coach, Mike Caldwell, and the safeties coach, Mike Zordich, both were speak-when-they're-spoken-to newbies. Cornerbacks coach Johnnie Lynn wasn't much help, either.
"Every coach who's in a coordinator or head coach position, you need somebody to bounce things off of," Reid said. "I have Marty [Mornhinweg]. Marty and I talk and we see things somewhat the same.
"When Jim [Johnson] was here, he had [defensive-line coach] Tommy Brasher. They were close. They came together. They were a package deal.
"I was just trying to find somebody that Juan could just bounce things off of. Ideas. Just have that working relationship with. I had looked at Todd before [for the defensive coordinator's job before he promoted Castillo]. I knew his qualities. I wasn't able to talk to him last year [the Dolphins denied him permission to interview Bowles at the time].
"But I had looked at him before and studied him and thought this would be a good match."
So far, it appears to be, though the true test will come during the season.
"The players have a better sense of Juan this year," Reid said. "They know where he's coming from and what he's going to do.
"Plus, he's got a good staff around him. Todd was a nice addition to the mix. Some of the younger coaches have had another year of experience. So you don't have quite as many moving parts as what you had before."
Modell deserves Canton
Three years ago, Bills owner Ralph Wilson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for, well, for, as near as I can tell, owning the Bills for a really, really long time.
Meanwhile, Art Modell, who was one of the most influential owners in league history, died Thursday at age 87 and still isn't in Canton.
As the chairman of the league's broadcast committee, he helped forge the incredibly successful union between the NFL and television. He helped create "Monday Night Football." He helped push through revenue-sharing in the league. He helped end the realignment impasse after the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 by agreeing, along with his friend, Steelers owner Art Rooney, to move their teams to the American Football Conference.
The reason he still isn't in Canton is because of his infamous 1996 decision to move his team, the Cleveland Browns, to Baltimore.
In his remembrance of Modell, ESPN's John Clayton, a fellow Hall of Fame selector, wrote on Thursday, "A majority of the people in the HOF room - including me - never felt comfortable enough to vote him in.
"Canton is too close to Cleveland. It just didn't feel right."
I like and respect Clayton. But that's just a dumb thing to say. Does that mean that if Modell had owned a team a little farther from Canton - like say, the Dallas Cowboys or the Seattle Seahawks - he would've had no problem voting for Modell? C'mon.
"It would be nice [to be inducted]," Modell told me 9 years ago, shortly after relinquishing his majority stake in the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti. "But I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
"If my move is the reason for depriving me from the Hall of Fame, let me point out two things. Al Davis moved twice and he's in the Hall. And another owner, Dan Reeves, who moved the Rams from Cleveland to Los Angeles, also is in the Hall of Fame. Electors can't have two sets of standards. It should be the same for everybody."
Because we tend to think kinder of people when they're dead than when they're alive, I think there's a good chance Modell finally will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the next couple of years. It's a crime, though, that he won't be around to hear the applause.
Figuring the Eagles
Michael Vick has a reputation for refusing to give up on a play.
According to Pro Football Focus, he threw away only 14 passes last season. While that's the same number as the Patriots' Tom Brady and the Saints' Drew Brees, it's considerably fewer than many other quarterbacks, including the Chargers' Philip Rivers (38), the Giants' Eli Manning (28), the Bengals' Andy Dalton (27), the Lions' Matthew Stafford (25), the 49ers' Alex Smith (22), the Ravens' Joe Flacco and the Texans' Matt Schaub (20), the Falcons' Matt Ryan (19) and the Packers' Aaron Rodgers (17).
Who had the hardest time throwing the ball away last season? The Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick (five) and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger (seven). That may explain why Fitzpatrick finished 30th in the league in interception percentage and Vick and Roethlisberger finished 23rd and 19th, respectively.
The Eagles finished first in the league in total defense in the preseason, holding opponents to 213.8 yards per game. They also led the league in sacks with 20.
That and $15 will get them a Venti Vanilla Latte at Starbucks.
FROM THE LIP
* "I'm not missing the birth of my child. There's no chance. I know some fans probably don't want to hear that, but there's no chance." Steelers all-grown-up QB Ben Roethlisberger, who said he will skip a game if it conflicts with the birth of his child
* "Well, I just think we're a better football team than people give us credit for. I also think our organization is a lot better than people give us credit for. The circus thing is getting kind of a little old for me." - Jets coach Rex Ryan on the ridicule his team has been receiving, particularly since acquiring Tim Tebow
* "I haven't been held this much since I was a baby." - Giants LB Mathis Kiwanuka, complaining about holding calls the Cowboys got away with in Wednesday's game
* "I feel like I had a bad year last year. I wasn't myself. But at the end of the day, I don't think I took a step back just because of one year. I don't think the old C.J. ever left. He's always been there. I just had to handle my business." - Titans RB Chris Johnson, who rushed for only 1,047 yards and four TDs last season
BY THE NUMBERS
* The Giants were only the ninth defending league champion in the 47-year Super Bowl era to lose their season opener.
* Winning in Week 1 has very little bearing on a team's playoff chances. Since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, 258 of the 490 teams that won their season openers, or 52.6 percent, went to the playoffs.
* The Cowboys, who beat the Giants in their season opener Wednesday night, have the best Week 1 winning percentage in league history. They are 35-17-1 (.673) in Week 1. The Cowboys also have the longest Week 1 winning streak ever. From 1965 through '81, they won 17 season openers in a row.
* Patriots QB Tom Brady has won 124 games as a starter. With a win Sunday against the Titans, he'll become the fastest quarterback in history to reach the 125-win mark, doing it in only 160 starts. Peyton Manning is second. He did it in 184 games.
* Some Michael Vick-related prop bets for the 2012 season, compliments of Bovada: over/under on: Michael Vick's passing yards - 3,500; Vick's TD passes - 22 1/2; Vick's interceptions - 13 1/2; Vick's starts - 14. Bovada also is giving 7/1 odds on Andy Reid being the first NFL coach to get fired this season. Five others have lower odds, topped by the Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt at 3/1 and the Chargers' Norv Turner at 7/2.
THAT'S SAYING THUMBTHING
THUMBS UP: To former Philadelphia Stars owner Myles Tanenbaum, who passed away last week at the too-early age of 82. The United States Football League, which played its games in the spring, was a great idea that eventually was destroyed by the greed of Donald Trump, who wanted to move the league to the fall and force a merger with the NFL. During the USFL's three seasons of existence, Tanenbaum's team was the class of the league, winning two championships and losing in the title game in the other. I'll never forget the time former Eagles owner Leonard Tose ran into Tanenbaum at the old Bookbinder's in Society Hill before the Stars' first season and wanted to bet Tanenbaum a million dollars that his team never would get the city's OK to play their home games in Veterans Stadium. Like most of the bets Tose made during his life, he lost.
THUMBS DOWN: To the NFL for putting its players at risk by opening the season with replacement officials. The league claims its top priority is player safety. It has changed rules in the name of player safety. Last week, it provided $30 million in funding for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to study brain injuries. Yet, it has no problem opening the season with the equivalent of substitute teachers. Players will try to get away with a lot of things with the replacement officials, including illegal hits. "The league and the commissioner is all about player safety," Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant said. "But with the deal [with the regular officials] not being done, there is a definite compromise when it comes to player safety. There are some things that are going to get called and some things that aren't going to get called."
Contact Paul Domowitch at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Pdomo. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' blog at eagletarian.com.