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No quarterbacks in the league will profess their appreciation for their offensive line's play more than the Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick and the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler.
These two elite quarterbacks have started the year with a bang with clutch performances and big numbers. This is after a year where both players took a pounding and played well below their capabilities. But this season as the Eagles and Bears offensive lines are healthy, and the primary reason that their quarterbacks are playing like the premiere players that they are.
It is a well known fact that the no matter how great a quarterback may be, the very best way to neutralize them is to get constant pressure on them and put the quarterback on the ground play in and play out. Well teams had a blast punishing Michael Vick in the 2012 season. He started only ten games, fumbled 11 times and was no where near the superstar level that is expected of Vick. The Eagles offensive line gave up a whopping 48 sacks last season, while giving up 5 sacks in two games thus far this season. That's not excellent but it's much better and let's not forget they're running an extra 10-20 plays or more this season.
With Jason Peters healthy for the first time in a few seasons leading the way with number one pick Lane Johnson this offensive line is looking good. Guard Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce are bouncing back from injuries and are opening up running lanes for Lesean McCoy and Bryce Brown. Lastly Evan Mathis was the only lineman to start all 16 games last season and played very well as his play hasn't dropped off this season. These guys are the main reason why everyone is so excited about the Eagles offense this year and Vick has the number three passer rating in the league at an astounding 119.0. They will have their hands as former Coach Andy Reid returns to the Linc with the number two ranked defense in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs tonight, but if the Eagles line remains healthy then they'll compete with anyone.
Last season Jay Cutler was sacked 44 times. Forty four, and that was considered an improvement from the previous season! Can you imagine? That's a lot of Jared Allen, Ndamukong Suh slams to the turf for one player to take over the years. Cutler was seen doing a lot of yelling on the sidelines at his teammates because of his frustration taking such a pounding and a lack of time to help his team win with his big arm. In two games this season, Cutler has hit the turf only one time. The Bears also used their first pick on an offensive lineman with Kyle Long and it's paying immediate dividends. A couple of veteran lineman are the ones who really solidify this line in free agent acquisition Jermon Bushrod and center Roberto Garza. These three have teamed up with guard Matt Slauson who's specialty is pass protection and tackle Jordan Mills to give the Bears and Jay Cutler their most exciting start in years.
Jay Cutler has his highest passer rating in recent years in this new season at 95.6, and Michael Vick and Coach Chip Kelly has the whole NFL buzzing. Cutler's Coach Marc Trestman comes in with an impressive offensive track record as well. But neither offense would sparkle at all without the big men up front on both teams leading the way.