The Eagles suffered a draining loss to Kansas City in week two after a coaching battle between Master and apprentice ran down to the wire. Ultimately, the game was decided in the trenches, as most games of this nature normally are. The Eagles were predicted to have a stern offensive front ahead of commencing of the regular season, but one weak link may have hurt the team in too many ways after just two weeks.
Second year offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo hasn’t exactly had a glowing start to his sophomore campaign. After an impressive rookie year, Seumalo forced his way into the starting LG fray, resulting in the trade that sent Allen Barbre to Denver. The team were all in on the Oregon State product throughout Training Camp, running extremely light at the position, but that decision may come back to haunt them in the coming weeks.
Seumalo was responsible for more than just three sacks. A failure to hit the right assignment in the run game meant that Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles suffered plenty of setbacks on the ground as the limited rushing attack came to a halt. Seumalo was school all day by the Chiefs pass rush, but the Eagles aren’t prepared to give up yet.
“I think the way we look at it is one thing every player knows and every coach knows, you line up in that environment against really good players on the other side of the ball, and you’re going to get beat every now and then.” Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich told reporters. “At every position, and not just at guard or at tackle or at center or corner, receiver getting beat up by a corner. It happens. So when we look at stuff like that, when you see an individual get beat once or twice in a game, you don’t like it, but it happens to literally everybody who suits up and goes out there and plays.
There is a lack of intent to strike while the Iron is hot and risk cutting the chord and enhancing the problem…something Reich was also quick to acknowledge.
“Now, if that happens over five, six, seven games and it becomes a problem, then you evaluate it. When it happens in one game, you say, ‘Okay, we take note of it, but we’ve got a lot of confidence — we’ve been working hard.’ We believe in our guys. Whether it’s Isaac or whether it’s another guy, it happens in this league. We fight to get better, and then you evaluate over the long haul.”
What other options do the Eagles have at the interior guard positions? It becomes a choice of Stefen Wisniewski and Chance Warmack. What is perhaps most surprising is that the former first round pick signed an extension with the Eagles having only signed months before, despite not playing a single regular season snap. Warmack has been inactive during the first two games, and with some tough games up ahead, one has to wonder whether or not he will even see the sideline, let alone the field.
Reich proceeded to double down on the progress of Seumalo, citing that the Eagles aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.
“I think Isaac had showed a lot of progress in a lot of ways. Isaac is a versatile, smart player who we’re very high on. He had earned the position — he had earned the right to kind of get put in that position, and we’re just proceeding with that.”
As for Doug Pederson, the problems that Seumalo is dealing with aren’t anything to be overly concerned with.
“I think some of it is just, he can drop his head. Some linemen will drop their head. Late hands. In a loud stadium, could be a little late off the ball which is not good, but they are all fixable, correctible things. He’s smart and he knows where to go. He understands the scheme, both run and pass. He’s one that we continue to work and build with.”
One thing is clear. Seumalo is struggling and the Eagles have a lack of contingency plans in place. Wisniewski has almost been forced into the niche of backing up a similarly unreliable Jason Kelce, and Warmack is yet to even be activated. So long as the team are confident in Seumalo, that case may remain the same.
Drafted in the first round by the Titans once upon a time, Warmack has struggled with injury setbacks and a prove-it deal was supposed to provide the Bama product with one more opportunity at earning a long-term role. That role consists of watching and waiting as the left side of the line continues to crumble at the hands of opposing pass rushes.
Versatility seems to be the focus up front with backups Wisniewski and Warmack able to play both guard spots. But it’s needless to say that for a team so focused on building continuity in the trenches, denying themselves of plan B until absolutely necessary may not be their best move.
If as Reich hinted, that it will take a string of five or six consecutive games, the consistent pressure allowed on Carson Wentz or continued stagnation in run-blocking that is seemingly forcing the team to abandon it so early, may have already done too much damage to repair.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ed Zurga