Few give the St. Louis Rams a serious chance against the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener this week. And why should they? Fresh off a division championship and a 10-6 season, Philadelphia made all the right moves during the offseason. The Rams may have fans convinced, but pundits demand more before predicting too much from a team coming off a week 17 stinker to lose the division. Despite that, a Rams win on Sunday is hardly out of the question. Catching the Eagles in the opening week of the season is a favorable break, especially considering the troubles of the relatively inexperienced Eagles offensive line.
Two rookies anchor the middle of the Eagles offensive line, first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard and sixth-round pick Jason Kelce at center. Left guard Evan Mathis has not started a game since 2009; he was with the Bengals recently. Would be starter Winston Justice is on the PUP list. They also block for Michael Vick, which makes life rewarding, but very challenging. It's a legitimate area of concern on a team that looks to have few holes.
The Philadelphia Daily News spoke to a couple NFL scouts for their take on the Eagles OL. It was a revealing conversation. Here's one scout on catching the unit early:
There's going to be some confusion up front. You've got a couple of rookies. You've got a position change. You've got all kinds of things going on up front. I would try to keep it simple early if I was (Andy) Reid, and try to have a good balance. Run the ball. Play-action.
And a second scout:
It's an awfully rusty group to start the season, especially with two dome games right out of the box. I could see a lot of breakdowns.
Don't get too carried away. Teams overcome poor offensive line play all the time. Hell, Green Bay and Pittsburgh had the worst lines of any playoff team last year. The onus is on the Rams front four to capitalize on that weakness and make them pay.