If you wanted to see the Philadelphia Eagles make some changes to their starting offensive line, I have some bad news for you. They’re not coming. (Yet, at least.)
Here’s what Doug Pederson had to say during his Monday press conference.
“I don't want to push any panic buttons at this time. We've got to make sure these guys understand our game plans. [Jason] Kelce is obviously a veteran center. I love having him in there, [and] his athleticism on the perimeter. Isaac [Seumalo] has done an outstanding job, really, in his short time to start last year, this year and the position versatility.”
“So we'll evaluate the whole thing. It's not -- again, it's not just one guy. If you're going to point the finger too, you can point it at me; I'm part of the pie, too. We'll evaluate it and we'll keep evaluating it.”
“Are players going to get beat in this league? Yes, they are going to get beat in this league. That's a good [Kansas City Chiefs] defensive front. We'll evaluate it this week in practice and as we go, but as of right now, we're not going to make any changes and we're just going to keep going.”
It’s tough to say the Eagles’ offensive line has played great through the first two games. Carson Wentz has been hit 18 times — tied for most in the NFL. The run blocking obviously hasn’t been consistent.
The biggest weakness on the line is apparent: second-year starting left guard Isaac Seumalo. Per Pro Football Focus, the 2016 third-round pick has allowed eight pressures through two games. Four of those pressures include sacks.
Despite his struggles, the Eagles don’t seem ready to pull the plug on Seumalo. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich praised the team’s left guard on Tuesday, calling him “a very smart, versatile player that we’re very high on.”
Indeed, the Eagles are high on Seumalo. So high that they traded away proven commodity Allen Barbre, who played well in 2016, away for a mere conditional seventh-round pick. The Eagles were originally willing to release Barbre for nothing in return before the Broncos offered the lowest possible form of draft pick compensation.
It’s early in the season, so there’s time for Seumalo to turn things around, but it’s fair to wonder if handing him the job at the beginning of training camp may have been a mistake.
If Seumalo continues to struggle, he might not have a very long leash. Philadelphia could turn to veterans Stefen Wisniewski or Chance Warmack to replace him. Wisniewski logged some starts at both guard positions in 2016. The Eagles used Warmack as a starting guard in the preseason when Brandon Brooks missed a game. Warmack has been a healthy scratch despite receiving a contract extension days before the season started.
Something worth considering: is guard really Seumalo’s long-term position? He’s shown the versatility to play at multiple spots on the offensive line in both college and the pros, but it seemed like the Eagles planned to play him at center after drafting him last year. Note that Seumalo received some first team center reps throughout various practice this offseason.
Maybe Seumalo just doesn’t belong at guard and he’d fare better at center. We probably won’t get to see that happen this year, though, with Kelce’s job seemingly secure. Even if he went down, the Eagles would probably rather put Wis at center than have two players out of position with Seumalo moving to the middle and Wis replacing him at guard.
The Eagles need Seumalo — and their offensive line as a whole — to step up and do it soon because the Giants come to town this week. At 0-2, New York certainly doesn’t look like a very good team, but their front is still formidable due to the presence of Damon Harrison and others.
We’ll see if Seumalo and his teammates can live up to the challenge.