Philadelphia Eagles: Isaac Seumalo deserves a chance to start

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

After losing a positional battle with Stefen Wisniewski last fall, Isaac Seumalo deserves a chance to start for the Philadelphia Eagles at left guard.

One month into the 2018 NFL season and it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles are finally going to make a change at one of their weakest potions.

And before you get your hopes up, no, we aren’t talking about Jalen Mills.

While it may not be as obvious to the untrained eye, arguably the weakest link on the entire Eagles’ roster so far this season has been at left guard, where second-year starter Stefen Wisniewski has quietly struggled mightily.

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After finishing out the 2017 NFL season with a Pro Football Focus rating of 73.5, considered good-to-very good, he’s regressed considerably over the last four games, tied for the 125th best mark of any offensive lineman in football.

And when you really dig into the numbers, it gets even worse.

Though Wiz has fared alright in pass coverage, ranked 100th overall with a 73.4 rating, he’s allowed six quarterback hurries and six quarterback pressures.

However, those stats look amazing when compared to Wisniewski’s current rating as a run blocker.

Currently ranked 161st overall by Pro Football Focus, Wiz has an atrocious 54.4 run blocking rating and has largely stifled the team’s ability to move the ball on the ground. After finishing out the 2017 season with one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, the Eagles have yet to have a single player pass the century mark on as a rusher and are currently averaging a very unimpressive 118.25 yards per game.

So, after a month of struggles, it’s clear Philly needs to make a change on the offensive line to get things back on track moving forward and opting to give Isaac Seumalo a chance to finally prove his worth makes a ton of sense.

After being selected in the third round the ‘Carson Wentz Draft’ of 2016, many assumed that the versatile, do-it-all Oregon State lineman could help to shore up the team’s then-open left guard position, and give the team a solid, cost-controlled guard to even out their line for the foreseeable future, however, it wasn’t that easy.

Because of the Pac-12’s shall we say bogus graduation rule, Seumalo was unable to participate in many of the Eagles’ early summer activities, missing value reps at rookie minicamp post-draft. Couple that with having to learn a new position, as left guard was surprisingly the only position Isaac didn’t play in college and it’s no wonder Seumalo wasn’t able to win a starting role right away.

But now, two years later, it’s clear Seumalo is a different player.

Given ample time to learn the Eagles’ scheme, Seumalo has become a bit of a jack-of-all-trades for the team over the last year-plus, filling in at virtually every position across the line and even logging a few snaps at fullback along the way, highlighting his impressive intellect that many lauded him for coming out of college.

Routinely active on game day, Seumalo has consistently found ways to get on the field, logging almost 300 snaps over the last year and a half, and while playing well in limited action, but could he keep up this level of play in an expanded role?

The Eagles need to find out.

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With his rookie contract set to expire at the end of the 2019 NFL season, Seumalo’s time in Philly could quickly be coming to an end, and if he never gets an opportunity to return to the starting five, we may never know if he’s got what it takes to be a full-time starter moving forward, and solidify the left side of the line as Jason Peters prepares to retire.

At only 24 years old, Seumalo is almost a decade younger than Wizniewski and therefore could theoretically become a fixture of the Eagles’ offensive line in a way similar to Lane Johnson for years to come. Regardless of how the team opts to replace Peters whenever he finally decides to hang up the cleats, be that with Johnson switching sides, Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepping up, or Jordan Mailata making the gargantuan leap from rugby star to legitimate starting left tackle, having a player like Seumalo in place at left guard will certainly help to ease that transition.

It’s virtually essential for the team’s long-term success.

Unlike virtually any other position on the football field, the offensive line is a living organism, with each player serving as a link in a chain, as opposed to an individual performer. While moving Wisniewski out of his current position at left guard and elevating Seumalo into a starter may cause the Eagles some immediate issues, it could be a move that helps to elevate the team’s rushing game considerably. Will it work? Who knows, but it’s certainly an experiment worth undertaking.

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