Philadelphia Eagles: Isaac Seumalo really did play well in Week 5

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

While many questioned the Philadelphia Eagles decision to replace Stefen Wisniewski with Isaac Seumalo in Week 5, statistically it looks like the right move.

When Philadelphia Eagles made the surprise decision to make a change on their offensive line, it certainly came as a surprise to all parties involved.

Especially incumbents starter Stefen Wisniewski.

After finally earning a starting position midway through the 2017 season and maintaining that role all the way to the Eagles first ever Super Bowl victory, the 29-year-old former Penn State Nittany Lion appeared locked in as a starter at left guard for the first time since his rookie year back in Oakland, but after noticeably regressing over the first month of the season, Doug Pederson knew he needed to make a change to try to get things back on track.

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Whether you take this tweet from Wisniewski as earnest or super passive-aggressive, it’s clear he feels as though his Week 5 benching was unwarranted, but was it? Sure, his replacement Isaac Seumalo almost immediately proved the haters right by giving up a first-quarter sack while almost single-handedly allowing the pocket to collapse around Carson Wentz and his surgically repaired knee, but was he really that much of a downgrade from Wisniewski? Pro Football Focus has some surprising answers to this question.

For some context, last season, Wisniewski finished out the year with an overall rating of 73.5, considered good to very good on the Pro Football Focus scale. This number easily placed him in the top half of the guards in the league, finishing out ranked overall 27th overall, 24 spots below right guard Brandon Brooks.

However, for whatever reason, 2018 has not been his year.

Though his pass-blocking remain solid, only allowing four hurries and four hits over the first four weeks of the season with no sacks for a PFF PBLK rating of 73.5, his run blocking took a deep dive. After recording a 70.2 run blocking rating last season, Wiz dropped over 15 points to a 54.4 RBLK, the 60th best mark of any guard in the league.

While this isn’t the only reason why the team’s rushing attack has remained largely ineffective in 2018, as Duce Staley‘s running back stable has been woefully unhealthy thus far this season, that kind of drop in production certainly can’t be a fluke.

So, after a month of consistent struggles, Doug Pederson opted to make a change, and inserted Seumalo into his starting five, even if it would understandably have some growing pains due to the nature of an offensive line.

Those struggled were immediately apparent.

In his first start next to Jason Peters and Jason Kelce in quite some time, Seumalo was challenged early and often, giving up his first sack of the season within the first 15 minutes of the game. While I’m sure plenty of Wiz lovers, or Isaac haters took this sack as a reason why the move was totally unwarranted, it was to be expected.

The offensive line, maybe more so than any other position on an NFL team, operates as a chain, with each link having to work in tandem work efficiently. Regardless of Seumalo’s relative talent when compared to Wiz, his tendencies, playing style, and even footwork are certainly different, and after having playing next to Stefen for 20 plus games, Peters and Kelce were understandably going to have to make some adjustments to Isaac’s playing style.

By the second half, it’s pretty clear that those adjustments were made.

After securing only three points in the first half, an issue that has plagued the team all season, the Eagles came alive in the second half, scoring 18 points in what would ultimately be a losing effort. Seumalo’s final PFF rating? 66.2 overall, with a 64.7 pass blocking rating, and a 64.6 run blocking rating in his best statistical game of the season.

Imagine what his line would look like had he not given up that sack?

While he’s still a work in progress as a third-year player, it’s clear that Isaac Seumalo has noticeably improved from the player we saw last year, and could continue to get better as he learns the ins and outs of playing alongside Peters and Kelce with more regularity.

With his next test coming on Thursday Night Football against the New York Giants and the disruptive force known as Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, Week 6 could be a make or break week for the Philadelphia Eagles’ line as it’s presently constructed.

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