Is BIG V the next Jason Peters?

Last Monday Jason Peters went down with ACL and MCL tears in his right knee.  Losing the nine-time pro bowler to a season ending injury could be a huge blow in the Eagles playoff and even Super Bowl aspirations.  However, the Eagles do have one or two options to replace Peters.  Of course, the Eagles could trade for another left tackle, such as five-time pro bowler and 49ers left tackle Joe Staley.  However, on Friday Doug Pederson confirmed that Vaitai will step in at left tackle with Lane Johnson staying at right tackle. Regardless of the Eagles’ plans to trade for a left tackle, it appears that Halapoulivaati Vaitai will have a prominent role in the Eagles offense in the upcoming weeks.  However, many Eagles fans question whether Vatai will be able to replace Peters well enough to sustain the Eagles current winning form.

The Eagles run game has been a huge component of their terrific 7-1 start to the season, and up to last sunday the Eagles had run the ball 53 times around the left end, which was the most by any team in the NFL.  The Eagles have leaned on Jason Peters pro bowl ability throughout the season, but can they still run the ball, and pass protect with similar success without him?  Doug Pederson thinks so, as he has stated that he is “really comfortable” with starting left-tackle “Big V”.  However, during the 8 games Lane Johnson was injured in last year, of which 7 Vaitai started the Eagles were a mere 2-6.  Vaitai cannot be solely attributed to the Eagles poor record last year, but he was definitely a component of their poor play.  Nonetheless, with 8 starts under his belt now Vaitai should be more confident, and experienced, which should help the team this season. Vaitai himself has stated that “no one can replace J.P.”, but the TCU graduate and former fifth-round draft pick will need to overperform, and play extremely well for the Eagles to continue their successful season.

This past week Eagles fan got to see how the offensive line would hold up without Peters. Carson Wentz was under duress the entire game, dropping back 19 times and getting sacked three times. This is only the second time in franchise history where the Eagles have been 7-1 or better in the first seven games of the season. The other time was 2004, when the Eagles went to the superbowl. The Eagles know that winning superbowls is difficult in the NFL; therefore, the Eagles should do everything in their power to capitalize on their momentous start to the season.  With a young quarterback on the rise, the Eagles cannot be thinking about the future; instead, they need to be thinking about the moment, taking advantage of our current situation.  The Eagles need to trade for a left tackle that can replace Peter’s production even if that means giving up one of our fourth round picks.

 

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