Inside the Numbers: Big V’s Struggles Against the Pats
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - You could make a strong argument that Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the most pleasant surprise during the Eagles Super Bowl run last season.
The third-year TCU product replaced a Pro Bowl-level player in Jason Peters at one of the game's most important positions and held his own. There were hiccups of course but, by definition, Vaitai proved to be good enough to win a Super Bowl with at left tackle.
On Thursday night in Foxborough, however, Vaitai regressed back to his rookie season when he proved to be an ill-suited fill in for then-suspended right tackle Lane Johnson. Consider that the Eagles finished 7-9 in Doug Pederson's first season and were just 2-8 when Johnson was serving his 10-game PED penalty.
The offensive line as a whole played a poor game against the Patriots with Vaitai being the main culprit while playing nearly the entire game at LT (95 percent of the offensive snaps) with Peters again sitting out.
According to ProFootballFocus.com Vaitai allowed 13 of the Eagles' 35 pressures on the night, including the most significant one when Adrian Clayborn raced off the edge for a strip sack of Nick Foles which injured the Super Bowl MVP's shoulder.
To put that number in context, "Big V" allowed only 2.44 pressures per game last season. As a whole, the O-Line allowed 12.63 per game during the regular season a year ago so to be fair the struggles in New England weren't limited to Vaitai.
Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks was the only member of the line who lived up o his reputation in Week 2 of the preseason, according to PFF, grading out as a 91.4.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen