Friday, July 31, 2015

How Bell fits with Birds

Demetress Bell is going to face an adjustment period.

How Bell fits with Birds

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The Eagles and left tackle Demetress Bell have agreed to a five-year deal. (Ed Zurga/AP)
The Eagles and left tackle Demetress Bell have agreed to a five-year deal. (Ed Zurga/AP)

Demetress Bell is going to face an adjustment period.

After having watched his games with the Bills last season, that much is clear.

Advanced metrics reflect favorably on Bell. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just one sack in seven games last season. But in this case, those numbers don't mean a lot. The Bills' offense demanded that Ryan Fitzpatrick get rid of the ball quickly. The Bills quarterback averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt, which ranked 22nd.

Consider this: More than 70 percent of Fitzpatrick's pass attempts traveled 10 yards or fewer from the line of scrimmage.

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Michael Vick, meanwhile, averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, which was tied for 10th. And only about 59 percent of his pass attempts traveled 10 yards or fewer from the line of scrimmage. The Eagles still like to run play-action and let Vick find his receivers downfield.

The point here is that Bell will have to get used to blocking for Vick, a quarterback who hates conceding a play. That's what makes him so spectacular at times - the ability to shake defenders, get away from sacks and pick up big chunks of yardage with his arms and his legs. But the improvisation is also what makes Vick a challenge to block for.

Overall, after reviewing some of Bell's games from 2011, I came away thinking he should be a nice fit in pass protection. On the occasions where he was asked to hold his blocks longer, Bell seemed able to do so. He didn't look like the most physical or aggressive guy, and I didn't notice any real pattern on the plays where he had issues, but he did get overpowered a couple times on bull rushes.

In the run game, he's not going to wow anyone like Peters did. I doubt Bell will ever be someone who makes Cris Collinsworth slow down the tape and drool over. And I didn't see him get to the second level and attack linebackers much, although I'm guessing Howard Mudd's scheme will better take advantage of his athleticism.

The Peters option caught the Eagles off-guard, but they seem to have found a decent replacement, especially considering the limited options. The front office deserves credit for being in good position from a financial standpoint and landing Bell when other teams had interest.

Durability is a concern. Bell played eight games in 2009, 16 in 2010 and seven last year. While I don't expect the Eagles to draft a tackle early, it wouldn't surprise me to see them pick one up in the middle rounds as a potential backup, along with King Dunlap.

According to PFF, Bell played 401 snaps last season without being whistled for a penalty. As Andy Reid would say, that's a good thing.

Bell turns 28 in May and gets a full offseason to work with Mudd. He won't be Peters, and will need time to adjust, but considering the alternatives, should provide the Eagles with an adequate replacement.


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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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