The Eagles rolled out rookie offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right tackle today in place of Lane Johnson, who’s suspended for 10 games.
Vaitai was drafted in the fifth round this past spring, but Doug Pederson and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland saw enough from the rookie in his preparation that they decided starting him today was the best plan for the offensive line.
Eh... they might want to re-think their approach.
Vaitai has had a real tough go against Washington’s defense thus far, struggling to keep Ryan Kerrigan in check at all.
On the first play of the game, Carson Wentz was sacked so hard that this happened to his jersey:
Wardrobe malfunctions pic.twitter.com/vSDF3BdYXs— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 16, 2016
At halftime, Washington had registered three sacks and five tackles for a loss, with a ton of pressure coming from the right side.
Vaitai’s technique has looked sloppy, he’s been slow to get out of his stance against the lightning-quick Kerrigan, and the constantly-eroding pocket has Carson Wentz looking shaky through the first two quarters, which comes back to Vaitai’s inability to hold his own.
I mean, just look at this rush from Kerrigan:
Eagles need to make a move at RT, kick Barbre out and put Wisniewski at LG, this is getting ridiculous pic.twitter.com/CFSb32IrR2— Philly Influencer (@PHL_Influencer) October 16, 2016
Here’s good insight on what might be going wrong so far, from Birds 24/7’s Josh Paunil:
Vaitai said the big thing he's been working on is staying low in pass sets. So far, Kerrigan has been killing him & getting underneath him.— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) October 16, 2016
If you remember, the Eagles’ other plan to replace Lane Johnson was to shift Allen Barbre to right tackle and slide Stefen Wisniewski in at left guard in Barbre’s place.
As the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane points out, that plan still might get some play.
Stefen Wisniewski, disappointed he wasn't getting the start, said to me on Thurs: "It still could happen at some point here soon.” #Vaitai— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) October 16, 2016
Wisniewski is probably hoping so, at the very least. (As is Carson Wentz, I’ll bet.)