Philadelphia Eagles: Stefen Wisniewski looks really bad at center

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

While the Philadelphia Eagles are clearly better off with Stefen Wisniewski on their roster, they could be in serious trouble if he has to play center.

When the Philadelphia Eagles declined Stefen Wisniewski‘s team option back in March, it frankly bummed out a huge swatch of the team’s fanbase.

A born and bred Pennsylvanian who played his college ball at Penn State, Wisniewski will forever go down as the Birds’ starting left guard in their Super Bowl win, and thus holds a special place in team history.

So, when he was released in favor of formally giving Isaac Seumalo the nod as 2019’s starting left guard – fresh off a three-year, $15 million extension – it rubbed fans the wrong way.

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Much like Seumalo, Wisniewski is a versatile lineman who can play either guard or center and thus seemed like an odd player to let walk in free agency, especially into a market that was relatively light in terms of interior talent.

But in a surprising twist of fate, Wiz remained unsigned for two months and migrated back to the Birds nest just before the start of summer activities. For the low, low price of $1.5 million, the Eagles already league-leading line became even deeper, with Wiz primed to be active for all 16 games as the team’s primary backup at both guard and center.

However, if Wisniewski’s number is called to fill in for Jason Kelce at center, the Eagles could be in big trouble.

Why? Easy: Wiz has looked bad over the first to preseason games at the position.

Filling out the middle of a line that has also predominantly featured Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata at tackle and Matt Pryor and Halapoulivaati Vaitai at guard, Wisniewski has been an absolute mess at center – routinely launching wayward shotgun snaps out of the reach of Cody Kessler, Nate Sudfeld, and most notably Clayton Thorson – who had a pass sail past his hands dangerously close to the end zone.

While some of this inconsistency could be associated with pairing up with unfamiliar signal-callers – though Sudfeld and Wiz have been teammates for their entire shared tenure on the team – when you dig back into the archives, there’s a reason why both the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars let Wisniewski walk as their starting center.

Over his single season in Jacksonville, Wisniewski was responsible for three defensive touchdowns, two by the Tennessee Titans and one by the Indianapolis Colts. One problem with that stat: Wiz doesn’t play defense. What he does do, however, is snap the ball, and on three separate occasions, his errant snap resulted in a loose ball and a touchdown.

Just for comparison’s sake, only seven Eagles had more than three touchdowns last season, all of whom played on the offensive side of the ball (obviously).

But Wisniewski’s snapping issues didn’t just start in the stick, humid paradise that is Jacksonville. No, in 2014, Wiz sailed another snap past his college (and eventually Eagles) teammate Matt McGloin that resulted in a late third-quarter touchdown by Cortland Finnegan of the Miami Dolphins – a 60-yard fumble-six to boot.

So needless to say, Wisniewski is certainly a better option at guard than he is at center, but just how concerned should the Eagles be about his prospects as a snapper in a regular-season game?


If the elder Kelce brother were to go down with an injury, either in-game or otherwise, Doug Pederson and company would surely shift Seumalo inside as the team’s second-string center and promote a player like Big V, Dillard, or Wiz onto the top line as their new starting left guard. While Seumalo has only really played left guard in the NFL, his was predominantly used as a center in college and is viewed by many as the team’s heir apparent at the position once Kelce hangs up his cleats.

So really, Wisniewski would only have to snap the ball to Carson Wentz if both Kelce and Seumalo were to suffer an injury, a hurdle that any team would struggle to overcome.

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Would the Philadelphia Eagles consider targeting a younger player who provides interior versatility with a slightly more consistent snapping rate later this preseason like Ethan Pocic, Russell Bodine, or even their newest signee Brett Toth? That’s totally possible, but as things presently stand, if Stefen Wisniewski ends up being the team’s third-string center, it shouldn’t be the end of the world; that is, as long as the team avoids taking snaps out of the shotgun.