Eagles Breakdown: Jeff Stoutland’s offensive line will face their toughest test of the season against Dallas
The Eagles offensive line is the life blood of their offensive system.
They have weapons at every position, but it would be all for not without the elite play of the big guys up front. Nick Sirianni’s offense goes as the offensive line goes.
Despite a handful of injuries to key players along Philly’s line, they’ve managed to remain one of the best overall units in the league. Per Pro Football Focus, Jeff Stoutland’s group has the highest pass blocking grade in the NFL collectively (80.5). Their run blocking grade isn’t as elite as year’s prior, but they still find themselves in the top-half of the league with a respectable 65.6 mark as a unit.
When Dallas comes to town this upcoming Sunday night, Stoutland’s crew will face their toughest test of the season. By far.
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Let’s not kid ourselves, Dallas’ pass rush is elite
The Cowboys’ pass rushers have a cumulative PFF pass rushing grade of 86.0 in 2022, the best mark of any team in football. Here’s a look at Dallas’ stats when rushing the passer:
- Sacks: 20 (2nd)
- Pressures: 73 (1st)
- QB knockdowns: 28 (2nd)
- Hurries: 25 (3rd)
It all starts with reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons, who’s averaging over a sack per game this year. He currently has the second-highest pass rushing grade of 105 qualified edge rushers, earning a 90.5 mark through five games.
His running mate, Demarcus Lawrence, is no slouch either. He’s racked up three sacks on the year, along with a 19-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
The good news for the Eagles — Lane Johnson has been a Lawrence killer throughout the years. In 14 career games against the Eagles, Lawrence has only managed three sacks.
The bad news for the Eagles — they may have to start Jack Driscoll for a second-straight game at left tackle.
Jordan Mailata’s status for Sunday’s NFC East showdown is still very much up in the air; he was limited during Thursday’s practice with the shoulder injury he sustained against Jacksonville. Andre Dillard’s 21-day practice window was opened last week, but Sirianni hasn’t given any indication on when the former first-round pick will return to action.
Driscoll is far from terrible. Most teams would kill to have a backup lineman with the ability Driscoll has. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, deploying a guy who’s primarily played right guard during his career to protect Jalen Hurts’ blind side from Parsons and Co. is not ideal. Far from it, in fact.
If Driscoll gets the nod for Sunday night, he’ll have his work cut out for him. Dallas will test him early and often. Aside from throwing a Defensive Player of the Year candidate at him for 60 minutes, the Cowboys also have a solid group of rotational pass rushers that can wreak havoc.
Five Dallas edge rushers got at least 17 snaps of action last week against Los Angeles. As a group, they accumulated 17 pressures and three sacks on Matthew Stafford.
Dan Quinn’s unit barely blitzes either, which makes it even more difficult to attack them in the passing game. On average, Quinn sends blitzes on 25.3 percent of the defensive snaps, which is below average by NFL standards.
Despite a handful of injuries, the Eagles’ line is still capable of slowing down Dallas’ front-four
Whoever wins the battle in the trenches this week will more than likely be victorious on the scoreboard as well. As good as Dallas is at disrupting the passer, the Eagles have the horses to slow their pass rush down.
Johnson is arguably the best pass blocking tackle in the game. On 204 pass blocking reps this season, No. 65 has only surrendered three pressures. He hasn’t allowed a sack since 2020 and like I pointed out earlier, Lawrence has never been able to get the best of him.
Driscoll may get picked on, but the Eagles can give him help with TE Jack Stoll. He’s essentially an extra tackle when he’s on the field. Stoll hasn’t allowed a single pressure when pass blocking this year and currently has a pass blocking grade of 64.8. His 84.2 pass blocking grade last season was the best mark posted by any tight end in football. Expect a heavy dosage of the backup tight end this week when the Birds drop back to pass.
If there’s one offensive line that can contain Dallas’ elite group of pass rushers, it’s the Eagles’.
If Mailata is ready to go by game time and the team’s line is at full strength, there’s no reason to doubt them in this contest.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images