Seumalo Finds His ‘Moment’
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Adversity has made Issac Seumalo a better football player.
Essentially handed the starting left guard spot at the start of the 2017 season before he was ready for it the now third-year pro believes the struggles that led to a quick benching turned him into a better football player.
“I think it was one of the best things that could’ve happened,” Seumalo said after Wednesday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex. “You only really get better when you lose a lot. [The benching] happened. I’m thankful for it and it kind of changed my mentality and how I played. It kind of set me on the path to where I am today.”
Where he is today is again the starting left guard but also the most versatile member of the line and the player who was able to kick out to right tackle against the New York Giants last week when All-Pro Lane Johnson was struggling with a high-ankle sprain.
In training camp, Seumalo was the backup center to another All-Pro in Jason Kelce and he's also worked at right guard and even left tackle dating back to his days at Oregon State. The versatility is something that offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has always stressed when discussing Seumalo, who believes center is the position which started everything clicking.
Moving around from position to position can be difficult but the pivot needs to understand the roles of each lineman and the added knowledge has helped Seumalo play faster no matter the position he's playing.
That, and an added 20 pounds of muscle had Stoutland noticing the improvement and the trigger was ultimately pulled, replacing Stefen Wisniewski with Seumalo for the Minnesota game in Week 5.
"I have an obligation here to Mr. Lurie and to the organization to make sure we have the best five players on the field," Stoutland explained earlier this week. "That's my job. And I tell every player that coming in. This kind of thing happened last year, when [Wisniewski] ended up becoming the starting left guard. As we go and as players develop and as players improve and get better, if they're sitting there and I know in my heart that that's one of the best five players, then he needs to be on the field."
Wisniewski, who wasn't playing poorly, didn't necessarily agree but has remained a veteran leader by acting as a mentor for Seumalo, the younger option with the higher ceiling.
“He’s a great teammate, a mentor, and has helped me out a bunch,” Seumalo said of Wiz.
Seumalo is also gaining his confidence back. Typically a player that would shy away from media availability, Seumalo was insightful and engaging while holding court on Wednesday.
“Just having a lot more fun and playing a lot looser,” he said. "[I'm] just letting the game come to me, really just taking it one play at a time. I know that’s cheesy and corny, but you cannot focus on what’s already happened. You can’t focus on what’s about to happen. You have to be in the moment.”
The next moment for Seumalo is Sunday against Luke Kuechly and the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field.
“During the offseason, [I} took time to think and reflect on the season,” Seumalo explained. “As preseason went on, I kind of felt like it was worth it. I wouldn’t want to change anything. The more you think in football the slower you play and the slower you play the more you get beat. On game day I try to play as fast as I can and not worry about mistakes or how you’re playing or this or that. You have so much time after the game to worry about that, but in the moment, that’s where I stay.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen