Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid says that the demotion of left tackle Demetress Bell to the second team and promotion of King Dunlap to the spot with the first team is no big deal. It’s always been an open competition and they just want to be sure that they have the right fit.
Is Reid stating simple fact, or is the move a sign of bigger problems for the Eagles?
The offensive line was one of many areas of the first team offense that showed that it needed work in Thursday’s preseason win against the Steelers.The fact that Mike Vick sustained a (thankfully minor) injury in his brief time in the game is problematic as his level of protection and safety will directly impact the Eagles success this season. Obviously, there were problems that need to be fixed and quickly.
The Eagles had the day off on Friday and come Saturday, a change had been made. Dunlap was waved over to join the first team and Bell was left to play with the 2s.
According to Reid, it was just part of the plan.
Just a scheduled switch. Like I said, King’s been with us a while and he deserves that opportunity. Demetress has done a good job. He’s worked hard, so he’s doing fine. But I just want to make sure; I want to make sure everybody has their shot there.
All that the coach would say about Bell’s play was said in generalities. What does Bell need to do to improve?
Just continue to progress. Just continue to progress and he’ll do that with reps. He’s going to get plenty of reps and everybody needs that. Right now, everybody needs that. We need to get better.”
Bell was signed by Philadelphia in the spring to step in for Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters, who suffered an Achilles injury. Peters is regarded by many as the best offensive tackle in the NFL so replacing him is no easy feat. But Bell had done it before in Buffalo, where both players spent time before landing in Philadelphia, and it was hoped that he could do it again.
Individual players on the offensive line aren’t easy to replace. The success of the line depends on how well they play as a unit, and it takes time for them to gel as a group. So to make such a change in the line to a player who has spent OTAs, minicamp and the majority of training camp working to coordinate with his other teammates on the line is disquieting. It signals a problem, or at the very least an uncertainty that is less than comforting at this stage of the game.
Sure, it’s still the preseason. This is precisely the time to where the team should identify problems and make moves to correct them. Perhaps its much ado about nothing. After all, Bell took just 6 snaps in Thursday night’s game. But he didn’t look good in those snaps. He didn’t look quick, powerful and commanding. Maybe it’s merely motivation for Bell to really step up his game. But where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. Especially with the Eagles.
Dunlap has seven starts in his NFL career — three at left tackle, three at right tackle and one at left guard–and his re-signing with Philadelphia this offseason showed that the team was committed to having Dunlap at the very least help add some depth to the offensive line. Like any professional athlete, he is driven to compete and strives to be a starter. But is that ultimately the right move for the team?
In a preseason already filled with intriguing storylines, the battle at left tackle just moved to the very top of what to keep your eyes on as it has so many implications for the upcoming season. We all knew that Peters injury would be a great loss to the team but we’ll soon find out exactly how much of an impact it may have.