Each week this season, we’ll have an oral history of a play, trend, or scheme from the Eagles’ previous game using the coaches all-22 film. This week, we spotlight left guard Isaac Seumalo, who struggled in Sunday’s 27-20 loss at the Chiefs.
On Monday, Eagles coach Doug Pederson intimated that he planned to stick with Seumalo, who played in nine games and had four starts as a rookie last year.
Pederson: Experienced backups are great to have, but at the same time, I don’t want to push any panic buttons at this time. … We’ll evaluate it and we’ll keep evaluating it.
Backup Chance Warmack, however, was working with the first unit offensive line during practice on Wednesday. While Warmack declined to say if he was starting on Sunday against the New York Giants, tackle Lane Johnson and guard Brandon Brooks indicated that a change had been made.
If the Eagles do opt to bench Seumalo, who declined to speak on Wednesday, there was more than enough evidence from Kansas City that the second-year guard needed to be demoted.
Seumalo (after the game): First and foremost, I’ve got to play better. No doubt about it.
FIRST QUARTER, SCREEN PASS TO WENDELL SMALLWOOD
The Eagles advanced to the Chiefs 16 on their opening drive. Faced with third down and 7, Pederson called for a screen pass to Smallwood.
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich: It was going to be a huge play. There was one defender [Chiefs linebacker Ramik Wilson], and he slipped a block and got in the way of what was going to be a big play.
Wilson (No. 53) had diagnosed the screen before Carson Wentz had even thrown it. But Seumalo (No. 73) was responsible for blocking the linebacker and got too wide.
Reich: Usually on a screen the offensive linemen are used to kind of getting out with a little bit of width. [Wilson] kind of ducked in behind. … Isaac is athletic enough that sometimes he’s going to make that play when other guys have no chance of making that play.
SECOND QUARTER, WENTZ SACK NO. 1
With the score knotted, 3-3, early in the second quarter, Wentz (No. 11) dropped to throw on first down from the Chiefs 41. Seumalo had to block defensive tackle Chris Jones (No. 95) one on one.
Jones slipped Seumalo with his hands and beat him inside. He sacked Wentz and forced a fumble (Johnson recovered).
Pederson: He can drop his head. Some linemen will drop their head.
SECOND QUARTER, WENTZ SACK NO. 2
A series later, the Eagles faced a third down and ten in their own territory. The Chiefs jumbled their defensive line and had outside linebacker Dee Ford (No. 55) lined up inside over Seumalo.
Before he had even been touched, Seumalo stepped to his right. Ford took the outside path, got around the guard and dragged Wentz to the ground.
Pederson: Late hands. In a loud stadium, could be a little late off the ball which is not good, but they are all fixable, correctible things.
FOURTH QUARTER, WENTZ INTERCEPTION
With the score tied, 13-13, the Eagles faced third down and 12 at their own 31. Pederson called for another screen pass, this time to Darren Sproles (No. 43).
The Chiefs rushed only four, but they dropped Ford into coverage and sent safety Daniel Sorensen (No. 49). Seumalo switched off Jones to block Sorenson, but he was too late. Wentz, sensing pressure, threw the ball away. But it hit linebacker Justin Houston (No. 50) in the helmet and deflected to Jones.
Wentz: I was throwing it to Sproles, in that vicinity. I think he was falling over so I was just more or less trying to throw it away.
Seumalo had two Chiefs rushing at him, so it would be difficult to fault him for the turnover. Wentz and Eagles center Jason Kelce (No. 62) are responsible for calling out pre-snap protections.
Kelce: The best situation is for Sproles not to get tripped [over the back of Kelce’s foot] getting out, and then the situation, if we know that that pressure’s coming, is to send the protection in that direction. … The problem is we’re seeing so much man-to-man coverage. … From my standpoint, I’m trying to figure out who’s got [Sproles], and how can we get somebody on him now so we can get the screen started and completed. All of sudden they blitz away from it, and really something different should have happened over [on the left]. Isaac’s put in a really tough situation. Caron’s put in a rough situation, as well. Just a really bad play.
FOURTH QUARTER, WENTZ SACK NO. 5
After the Wentz interception, the Chiefs scored 14 straight points. The Eagles got the ball back with two minutes and 14 seconds left in the game. Seumalo was once again matched up one on one vs. Jones.
Jones slipped Seumalo with another inside move. Seumalo could do nothing but essentially watch as the linebacker ran Wentz down from behind.
Reich: It’s hard to boil [Seumalo’s struggles] down to one thing. It’s usually a combination. And within that combination is there’s a guy that lined up against me that’s pretty good. He gets paid a lot of money, as well.
On Wednesday, Jones was named the AFC’s defensive player of the week.
FIRST QUARTER, SMITH 22-YARD CATCH
It wasn’t all bad. Seumalo had some moments when he played soundly. He stood up former Eagle Bennie Logan (No. 96) when Wentz fired a 22-yard pass to Torrey Smith (No. 82).
FOURTH QUARTER, BURTON 10-YARD CATCH
Seumalo also did a fine job of adjusting when Houston ran a stunt in the fourth quarter.
Pederson: He’s smart and he knows where to go. He understands the scheme, both run and pass.
But as the game progressed, the Eagles slid more protection to his side.
FOURTH QUARTER, WENTZ 24-YARD SCRAMBLE
Logan swam by Seumalo on this drive, but Kelce was there to help.
Kelce: Part of my role is to put people in a position to be successful. And Isaac has a lot of strengths, a lot of abilities. He’s a very smart guy. And I think he’s a very physically gifted player. He’s a young kid. The biggest thing is to keep his confidence going.
On Tuesday, Reich seemed to indicate that the Eagles would stick with Seumalo at least for another week.
Reich: If that happens over five, six, seven games and it becomes a problem, then you evaluate it. When it happens in one game, you say, ‘Okay, we take note of it, but we’ve got a lot of confidence – we’ve been working hard.’ We believe in our guys. Whether it’s Isaac or whether it’s another guy, it happens in this league.”
But Seumalo had issues the week before against the Redskins. He wasn’t nearly as bad as he was in Kansas City, but he was inconsistent throughout.
FOURTH QUARTER, SMALLWOOD 2-YARD LOSS
Johnson: I think [you’ll] learn a lot from your worst games. I think you’ll find out what’s inside of you as a player and as a person. The way Isaac has battled since he’s been here, I think he’ll get it back together again.
Brooks: It’s just unfortunate to see a young guy get [sat] down like that after having a bad game. He’s a young player. You don’t want to kill his confidence this early in his career. … I wish he could kind of work through it.