Owens: Doug Pederson the Problem for Big V's Struggles
By Mike Owens I wanted to vomit while watching Halapoulivaati Vaitai get violated by Ryan Kerrigan during last Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins. The first series of the game brought back nightmares of the Giants game in 2007 when Winston Justice allowed six sacks. The main goal of the 2016 season is to keep Carson Wentz upright and healthy for all 16 games. So, that sick feeling I just described stems from Doug Pederson and the coaching staff being stupid. The Eagles had about two months to prepare for starting right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension. When the reports of Johnson’s ban came out in early August, I thought the Eagles would slide starting left guard Allen Barbre to right tackle and put veteran Stefen Wisniewski at guard. After the preseason, I was convinced it would be either Wisniewski or third-round pick Isaac Seumalo playing left guard during Johnson’s suspension. Seumalo and Vaitai were inactive for the first four games of the season, which made me think Wisniewski would be the guy. When Johnson’s suspension became official prior to the Redskins game, Pederson announced that Vaitai would start at right tackle. The coaching staff went on to praise Big V for his performance in practice. I wasn’t buying the praise for a fifth-round pick about to go up against Kerrigan. My fears came true on the first play when Wentz was left with a ripped jersey. The Eagles had three tight ends on Vaitai’s side on the play, with Brent Celek ultimately getting beat by Kerrigan. Big V failed his first true test a few plays later when Kerrigan blew past him for an easy sack. Kerrigan finished the contest with two sacks. “He had a couple of missed assignments early,” Pederson said after the game. “But I felt like he settled into the game as the game wore on. He’s a warrior, he’s a battler, he's a fighter. He stepped up and did a good job. He’ll learn from it and be ready next week.” My problem wasn’t with Vaitai’s play, but was with Pederson putting too much faith in his rookie tackle. I would’ve much rather had Barbre at right tackle and Wisniewski at guard in a key NFC East battle. Pederson didn’t help Big V out that much either, it was mostly chips from the running backs. There was very little double-team help throughout the game. Fellow Bitter Bird Adrian Fedkiw did a great job of breaking down the film for Big V ranked as one of the 10 worst performers on ProFootballFocus’ list from Week 6. According to PFF, Johnson had given up five total pressures in four games, across 275 snaps of action. Vaitai surrendered five in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins alone, on only 29 pass-blocking snaps. Despite the poor performance, Pederson and the Eagles are sticking with Vaitai this week against the Vikings. Meanwhile, Wisniewski continues to sit on the bench. “I was told that he had been practicing really well," Wisniewski said after the 27-20 loss to Washington. "They wanted to give him a shot. I'm used to being a starter. I haven't been a backup for 10 years. So that is tough to get used to. "I think I can help. But I will help in anyway I can, and right now that is being a backup. But I'm hoping to get a shot eventually." All we can do is pray for Wentz.