What’s Going on at LG for the Eagles?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Stefen Wisniewski was benched this week for Isaac Seumalo and the veteran isn't necessarily sure why he was singled out on a unit that has been a disappointment when measured against expectations.
"I’m going to be honest. I’ve been playing pretty well," Wisniewski told Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer after Sunday's 23-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. "I really don’t think that was it. I have some theories, but I’m not going to share those publicly. It’s frustrating. If I wasn’t a Christian, I’d probably be losing my mind."
Wiz supplemented those somewhat controversial thoughts on Twitter Monday morning by offering his unfiltered view.
"Even though I wasnt playing bad I got benched last week," he wrote. "Its [SIC] frustrating, but no matter what I will praise Jesus and will trust that He is in control and is good. I will believe that “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
The two theories being bandied about are Howie Roseman ordering the head coach to play a premium draft pick in place of an older player who probably will not be here in 2019 and/or Jason Peters, the Godfather of the Eagles' locker room, inserting his influence and politicking to play next to Seumalo.
Not surprisingly Doug Pederson insisted that there was no ulterior motive to the personnel decision.
"Everything in this business is performance-based," the coach insisted at his Monday press conference. "... When we look at our personnel, if we feel as an offensive staff like we need to make a change somewhere, then we'll make that change. We feel comfortable with Isaac, feel comfortable with his versatility."
From a talent perspective, Wisniewski is at the back of the line on a unit which features two All-Pros from last season (Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson), a Pro Bowl selection in right guard Brandon Brooks, and a potential future Hall of Famer in Peters.
The final piece to that superb puzzle was supposed to be Seumalo until the 2016 third-round pick imploded when handed the job without having to earn it last season, first being replaced by Chance Warmack and then Wisniewski, who settled the position down.
Through the first four games of the season, Wisniewski has been what he is, solid if unspectacular, grading out as the 39th best of 68 total players at the position by ProFootballFocus.com. Seumalo, meanwhile, was blown up by Sheldon Richardson and Linval Joseph on two of the Eagles' first three offensive plays Sunday although did play better from there.
"Obviously in fairness of both Isaac [Seumalo] and Stefen [Wisniewski], I want to make sure that we evaluate the film on this, and it's going to be hard, though, because it's a short week, short turnaround and we're on to the Giants," Pederson said after the game. "I thought initially, he played well. Isaac played well. We'll evaluate it again and make the decision moving forward."
Monday, Pederson again referenced the short week and difficulty making changes in that kind of environment essentially confirming Seumalo would remain the starter against the New York Giants on Thursday.
Seumalo, 24, spent most of training camp this summer as the backup center behind Kelce as the Eagles started a reclamation project on his confidence. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has always liked Seumalo's versatility and ceiling as a player and the Eagles feel he has more physical gifts than Wisniewski so the hope is things finally click.
“It’s going to take a couple of weeks. Isaac [Seumalo] is going to be just fine," Peters insisted. "That’s the first time I played with him since the Kansas City game last season. We didn’t do badly for the first time around. He’s going to be just fine.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen