Jordan Mailata and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland get most of the credit for turning a massive rugby player into a starting left tackle in the NFL. And they deserve it.
But Isaac Seumalo helped too.
“I think part of that credit goes to Isaac,” Stoutland said last week.
Stoutland said that every once in a while, he’ll dip into the offensive line meeting room to pick something up and find the left side of his line going over details.
“The door will be shut and I will have forgotten the practice plan or something and I’ll go in there and there’s Isaac and there’s Jordan,” Stoutland said. “And it’s Isaac going through each detail, all the little details about how we’re going to do this thing. I just think that’s pretty awesome.”
When Stoutland talked about the left tackle competition between Mailata and Andre Dillard before training camp, he emphasized how important it would be for the left side of the line to show as much cohesion as the right side with Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson.
During training camp, Seumalo missed significant time and by the time he returned, it was clear that Mailata was going to win the job and the two have taken ever rep next to each other since. Not only did Mailata win the job, but he was rewarded with a $64 million extension the day before the opener.
Behind the scenes, Mailata has learned a ton from Seumalo, who has become somewhat of an unsung hero in an offensive line with multiple Pro Bowlers.
What’s the biggest lesson Seumalo has taught Mailata?
“Four seconds at a time. He reminds me every day,” Mailata said. “On to the next play. That’s just the mantra here. Four seconds at a time, good play, bad play, on to the next play.”
Mailata has started 12 games in the NFL and seven have come next to Seumalo.
According to ProFootballFocus, Mailata’s six highest individual game grades have come in games with Seumalo next to him, including on Sunday when he had a career-high grade of 91.2.
Seumalo is 27 now and is in his sixth season. The former third-round pick is also the last remaining member of the 2016 draft class after Carson Wentz was traded this offseason.
His career got off to a rough beginning. Even in the Super Bowl year, the Eagles tried to make him the starter but eventually ended up using Stefen Wisniewski. But in 2018, Seumalo won back the job and has been in that role ever since.
He missed some time last year to injury — who didn’t? — but Seumalo has grown into a solid left guard in the NFL. Stoutland has seen a lot of growth from Seumalo in the last two years too.
“I’ve been saying this to you guys for a while now. Our players know. The players in our room know the value that Isaac Seumalo brings to this organization,” Stoutland said. “I’ve said this for a long time. The guy has played every position on the offensive line, including tight end. He knows every position. He knows any pressure that anybody ever runs that we present in our meetings.
“He’s brilliant. He’s brilliant and he’s quick, he’s explosive, he’s detailed. I mean, I can’t say enough about Isaac. I think the world of him.”
While Seumalo played a bunch of different positions early in his career, he’s really settled into his spot at left guard, which makes the future intriguing. Because when the Eagles drafted Seumalo, the plan was to eventually make him the guy to replace Kelce. But Kelce is 33 now and still playing at a high level in 2021.
And this spring, the Eagles drafted Landon Dickerson, another guy who can play center and guard. Dickerson will likely replace Brooks over the next month or so after Brooks suffered a strained pec, which might give us a hint about the future of the offensive line.
Whatever position Seumalo plays next season, he’s under contract through 2022 and it’s clear the Eagles think highly of him.
“He’s an incredibly smart player, he’s athletic, he’s physical,” Kelce said. “He has all the traits that you need as an offensive lineman and he certainly hasn’t been overlooked in our room. We all have known how good Isaac is for a very long time and it’s only a matter of time before the national media catches on.”
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