Eagles offensive line questions

I found this interesting, from Les Bowen, on the Philadelphia Eagles' assistant coaches media availability Monday. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who oversaw a complete change in the way the Eagles' offensive linemen blocked in 2011, is not around for this portion of the offseason program. The team insists this is no big deal and will be back before long, and the fact is the man is 70 years old and doesn't get around all that well, so it makes sense to make some concessions regarding his schedule. But I think it's interesting in light of one major issue facing the Eagles this offseason: The need to replace star left tackle Jason Peters.

Peters is almost certainly out for the year, having had the same Achilles' tendon surgically repaired twice this offseason, and his replacement is free-agent signee Demetress Bell. And while there is plenty of time for Bell to learn Mudd's system -- even from Mudd himself, once he returns -- Bowen's story touches on the fact that it's not so easy to do. This from Eugene Chung, the assistant coach filling in for Mudd:

"His style is very unique," Chung said Monday, when asked about teaching the Mudd system. "It allows a player to be athletic. It's a good style, once you know the concepts."


"Demetress is a great athlete also," Chung said. "I'm not concerned with our left tackle position because Demetress is in there. I know Jason was a great leader out there; I'm sure Demetress will be, too. He's an older vet [28] now, the guys have embraced him ... I'm not concerned."

And there's nothing to indicate that Eagles fans should be overly concerned either. Bell won't be Peters, because no one is, and the Eagles' offensive line would suffer for Peters' absence regardless of who replaced him. The question on Bell is whether and how quickly he can adapt to the way the Eagles play offensive line under Mudd. Players like Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce eagerly embraced and thrived in Mudd's system last year, and as a result of that (and of Peters' outstanding year), the Eagles' offensive line was a strength of the team. Particularly as a run-blocking unit, it ranked among the best in the league.

But there are challenges associated with learning a new blocking technique -- not to mention challenges that go along with blocking front of a quarterback who moves around and keeps plays alive as long as Michael Vick does. And the development of Bell within the Eagles' system is going to be a story to watch as this offseason continues.