— After 13 games and a mountain of evidence, it's safe to pronounce the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line good again.
Last Sunday, in fact, it was two cuts above good, and coach Chip Kelly reminded everyone of that the day after, when he could have taken all or part of the credit for the offensive explosions we have seen throughout the season. He did not.
Kelly has a second-year quarterback in Nick Foles who tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in one game last month and owns the league's highest passer rating with three games to go, starting with today's road game against the Minnesota Vikings (1 p.m., FOX).
He has an elite running back in LeSean McCoy who last week broke the franchise's single-game rushing record, set before his parents were born, and needs just five more rushing yards to eclipse the personal best of 1,309 he established in 2011.
But when he was asked if there was something intrinsic about his offense that has allowed the running game to lead the league in rushing yards, yards per attempt and consistently produce big chunks like McCoy did in the previous day's 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions, Kelly gave all the credit to the men up front.
"Yeah, [numbers] 71, 65, 62, 79, 69, 87," Kelly shot back, speaking of the offensive line. "We've got some guys that can block, and we've got a very, very talented running back. You know, there's a lot of things you have philosophically. We'd like to do this, we'd like to do that. You still have to have the players that can execute it, and I've said this all along.
"This whole deal is a personnel-driven thing, and we've got some really talented guys on the offensive line. We've got a really talented tight end when it comes to blocking."
For the record, 71 is left tackle Jason Peters, 65 is right tackle Lane Johnson, 62 is center Jason Kelce, 79 is right guard Todd Herremans, 69 is left guard Evan Mathis and 87 is tight end Brent Celek.
If there is one dominant imprint from former coach Andy Reid that remains with this team, it is right there. Reid assembled all but Johnson, their first-round draft pick this year, and might still be here if half of them didn't go down with injuries last season.
Peters, the best lineman in the league in 2011, was the first to go, tearing his Achilles tendon in the offseason and missing all of 2012.
Kelce, who took command as a rookie to start every game in 2011, was lost for good in Week 2 of last season, when Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed appeared to intentionally roll into him, tearing Kelce's ACL and MCL. Kelce insists the shot was not cheap, which remains disputed here.
Finally, Herremans, a staple on the line since 2005, went down with a foot injury and missed the entire second half of the season.
Without those three, McCoy averaged 4.2 yards per carry, the lowest since he became a full-time starter in 2010, Michael Vick lost his starting quarterback job due to a concussion and general ineffectiveness and many others on the team quit before it was over.
The quitters were swept away by an offseason tidal wave that restructured the coaching staff, roster and even a portion of the front office.
And now that Peters, Kelce and Herremans are healthy, it should be no surprise that the offense is moving again under Foles and McCoy.
The Eagles lead the NFL in the following categories: rushing yards per game (158.5), yards per rushing attempt (4.94), plays of 20-plus yards (80), passes of 20-plus yards (64) and touchdowns of 20-plus yards (19). They're second in yards per play (6.19) and third in total offense (409.3 yards per game).
A huge reason for that is that every play in Kelly's playbook is, well, in play because the line is more athletic than ever. Both tackles were tight ends at major Division I universities, and Kelce started out as a linebacker at Cincinnati.
Getting this thing assembled was a process that began even before Reid did his best to satisfy then offensive line coach Howard Mudd's preference for better athletes at all spots. Mudd was here for just two seasons, but his influence remains too.
"There's no blocks or techniques that anybody on this line can't do," Mathis said. "Everybody has the ability to do whatever the coaches ask of us. And sometimes that requires doing a technique that may be harder for a larger guy who may not be able to move as well to do.
"Some teams might not be able to run certain plays, based on whether or not their linemen could get to the proper point down the field. But we're able to do whatever they ask us."