Big V a Big Reason For Eagles Success
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Philadelphia Eagles are putting up some decent offensive numbers this postseason. They have racked up 790 total yards and scored 46 points in a pair of playoff games. That offensive success is due in large part to the solid play of the offensive line.
That line saw its share of adversity, especially when All-Pro Left Tackle Jason Peters suffered a season-ending injury in late October. That thrust Halapoulivaati Vaitai, or Big V as he is known by his teammates, right into the spotlight as he had to fill the big void left behind by Peters absence. Vaitai has definitely stepped up.
“Without V, we are not here,” Right Tackle Lane Johnson stated. “It is simple as that.”
Peters’ injury forced the coaching staff to make a difficult decision. Do they move Right Tackle Lane Johnson to protect the Quarterback’s blind side, or do they simply insert Vaitai at left tackle and leave Johnson on the right side. They chose to do the latter and it has paid off.
“It enabled Lane to stay where he was,” Left Guard Stefen Wisniewski explained. “Lane is playing really good football and you would have hated to see Lane have to switch and relearn everything from a footwork and technique perspective. It enabled Lane to keep playing elite football over there.”
Vaitai has definitely taken advantage of the opportunity and held his own against some great players, including one of the best pass rushers in the league in Minnesota’s Everson Griffen in the NFC Championship Game.
“He was put into a Hall-of-Famer’s shoes and we are here in the Super Bowl,” Johnson said. “Against Everson Griffen last week, a huge matchup and couldn’t have been a bigger stage and he plays out of his mind. He’s another guy that is physically everything you want in a Tackle. The more he plays the more he is going to learn to get better.”
Vaitai has done a great job of being a sponge. He is absorbing as much as he can from veterans like Johnson, Wisniewski and the man he is subbing in for, Peters.
“He has helped me a tremendous amount,” Vaitai said of Peters. “He is a great guy to get notes from. This morning JP was telling me you have to do this and you have to do that. It’s really nice to have that there. I also have Lane too helping me learn what to work on too.”
Vaitai and Wisniewski are next to each other on the line and therefore must work in tandem many times to hold off the opponents. Throughout the past three months, those two players have continued to develop great chemistry to allow them to perform at a high level.
“There are a lot of little conversations you need to have about how you are going to handle blocks,” Wisniewski explained. “Once you start playing together more you just start knowing what the guy next to you is going to do. We learned that quickly.”
“The chemistry between us is great,” Vaitai smiled. “The bond we have with each other, I know what Wiz is thinking, I know what Kelce is thinking, I know what Brooks is thinking, we all work together so well and know what we are all going to do. “
Big V and the rest of his line-mates will look to cash in on their collective success with a Big W in Super Bowl LII.