The Eagles still haven’t officially decided whether Halapoulivaati Vaitai will stay at left tackle in place of Jason Peters or move to right tackle so Lane Johnson can get started on his left-side tenure, but offensive coordinator Frank Reich made two things clear about the situation when speaking with reporters Wednesday:
- Peters, out for the season and possibly forever with MCL and ACL injuries, at age 35, isn’t really replaceable.
- Football is a team game, and if everyone does his job, the Eagles’ offense can still work, without its nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle.
“We have a lot of confidence in guys. Now, I’m not gonna lie: Jason Peters is a rare player,” Reich said. “I have no problem saying – I’ve been around this game for 30 years, and I’ve been around some great offensive linemen, a lot of great offensive linemen; I mean no disrespect to them, because there are a lot of great ones – but Jason Peters is the best one I’ve been around.”
How do you survive such a loss?
“Obviously, you don’t want to lose a guy like that, but that’s the great thing about this game – no matter how great one player is, it’s not played by one player, whether you’re the quarterback or the left tackle,” Reich said. “And we pick each other up, the next guy steps in, we adjust things, we have confidence in each other, and then we develop and we grow together as a team. So, I believe that is what will happen.”
Reich, as one would expect, expressed confidence in Vaitai and in Isaac Seumalo, the new swing tackle, who previously struck out as the starter at left guard.
Reich said he was “very comfortable with Isaac being the swing tackle,” and noted that Seumalo, known for his athleticism, has “natural tendencies to play the tackle position.”
The NFL Network reported that the Eagles worked out Taylor Hart on Tuesday for Peters’ roster spot. That makes a lot of sense: Hart, drafted as a 3-4 defensive end in 2014, was doing well with his transition to offensive tackle in the spring and summer and probably would still be here if he hadn’t used up all his practice-squad eligibility while playing defense.
“All my grades on Taylor Hart were very high,” Reich said.
Best of Carson?
The touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Corey Clement on Monday night, a throw Wentz made just as he was disappearing underneath a pile of Washington Redskins, amazed everyone watching, including Reich.
“I’ll tell you what – as coaches, we tend not to be too easily impressed; what impresses us is consistency over the long haul – but I have to say , the touchdown pass to Corey, I was impressed,” Reich said. He confirmed what Jon Gruden said on the MNF broadcast, that the play was one Wentz brought with him from the North Dakota State playbook, a favorite whose options are second nature to the quarterback.
Reich said he was impressed by the pass but also by the fact that with rushers all around him, Wentz knew where to find Clement, who Wentz said was the third option. Reich said Wentz showed “physical ability to make that play, but also the mental ability to understand the dynamics of what was happening in that moment.”
Such abilities, Reich said, are “why Carson was drafted where he was drafted.”
Of course, the second part of the play was the catch that Clement made, the second career catch for the rookie from Wisconsin, who wasn’t used much in the passing game in college.
“That catch was a great catch. It wasn’t a good catch. That was a great catch,” Reich said. “How he got his feet down, how he adjusted to the ball – not a catch you would have expected him to make. … Corey’s just a football player. That’s what we’ve seen from Day 1 with him. He loves ball. Just love seeing him on the field. That was a big play.”