PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles offensive line is the best run-blocking unit in the NFL.
Period. End of story.
What they did to the New Orleans Saints in a 40-29 win on Sunday was just a flat-out ground assault.
Plain and simple.
They lined up, mano-a-mano, and ground New Orleans to a fine powder. Turned them to dust.
This was the top-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing just 72 yards per game. The Eagles had nearly doubled that in the first half, romping to 152 yards in two quarters to open a 27-7 lead.
There was Jordan Howard hammering away at the center of the defense, Miles Sanders skirting edges, and Jalen Hurts doing whatever he damn well pleased.
The names up front – from left to right, Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Jack Driscoll, and Lane Johnson - have been together five straight games now, something that never happened a season ago when injuries ripped them apart.
Injuries tried to take their toll this year, too, with the Eagles losing guards Isaac Seumalo for the season and Brandon Brooks in Week 2 for who knows how much longer?
“We got great tackles,” said QB Jalen Hurts. “We got freaks out there on the edge. Teams know that they’re good players. Teams know we have a great center who’s had a lot of experience.
“We have young guys that can play guard at a very high level, but I think Lane has done great things for a very long time. The way Lane works, the effort, the toughness he has, even last year trying to play on his ankle injury. I have a lot of respect for Lane and everything he’s been able to overcome.”
No question that Hurts brings a completely different dimension to the run game. Defenses have to play the Eagles differently with Hurts a constant threat to run the ball when a play breaks down or simply just keep it and dart up the middle or sweep the corner.
So frustrated were the Saints that Marcus Davenport took offense to Jordan Mailata’s attempted pancake block that he and the left tackle engaged in a bit of a scrum, probably making the former Australian rugby star feel right at home in South Philly.
Lane Johnson could sense the frustration of the Saints boiling over.
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“I don’t know what the hell happened,” said the RT. “It was like UFC 286 out there. I don’t know what caused it. I think I was on the backside of the play blocking and I just saw his big (butt) rolling around and Davenport rolling together.
“You got that big dinosaur on you, Mailata, yeah, I’d get angry, too.”
If Saints coach Sean Payton was angry about the way the Eagles O-line mauled his defenders, he didn’t sound it.
“It’s a patient attack,” he said when asked about the Eagles' domination of the line of scrimmage. “They stuck with it. Ultimately, we didn’t do a good enough job.”
That’s like saying the captain of the Titanic didn’t do a good enough job of steering before it hit an iceberg.
The Eagles were having so much fun blasting holes in the Saints’ defense, they decided to run it 50 times.
That’s an absurd number.
The last time they had 50 rushes was against Washington on Oct. 5, 1997. This is Baltimore Ravens-type stuff. In fact, the last team to record at least 50 rushes in a game was the Ravens against the Bengals on Jan. 3, 2021.
If it’s any saving grace for an embarrassed Saints defense, it’s that it is not alone.
The Eagles have averaged 217.5 yards per game on the ground in their last four. It’s the second straight game they have eclipsed 200 yards on the ground and the first time they have run for 200 yards in consecutive games since the 1978 season.
“I just think we have tough guys on this team,” said head coach Nick Sirianni. “And that's important. … you never want to go to (a) game without your guys that are tough. I feel that's a common denominator of a lot of guys on this football team. We've got tough, gritty guys. That's going to help you win a lot of football games throughout.”
Sirianni was talking about his entire team, but it starts with an offensive line that is the best blocking offensive line in the game right now.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.