The700Level

Visual proof that Big V is really, really good

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Visual proof that Big V is really, really good

Before Eagles fans felt a sense of dread over losing Carson Wentz, there was the impending doom caused by the season-ending injury to Jason Peters. Turns out, just like at quarterback, they were going to be fine at left tackle.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been largely fine in place of Peters all season but may have played his best when the Eagles needed it most in the NFC Championship Game. Working against Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen for much of the contest, Vaitai silenced the three-time Pro Bowler and defense’s best rusher.

Big V opened holes in the running game and did his part to keep Nick Foles upright in the pocket. Technically, Griffen was credited with two quarterback hits, though both were ineffective — one well after Foles released the football, the other a glancing blow.

Prior to the matchup, Eagles coach Doug Pederson called Griffen “a game wrecker.” Yet, a supposed backup offensive lineman shut down one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

It’s time to give Vaitai his due. The kid is pretty good.

Early on, Pederson gave Vaitai plenty of help. It wasn’t necessarily in the form of straight double teams, but the Eagles used the traffic created by tight ends running their routes and simple misdirection to slow Griffen’s attack.

But in the second quarter, Pederson began trusting Vaitai to block Griffen one-on-one. It worked. Some observers would even be tempted to say Big V had his number on this particular series.

Here, Griffen tries to bull rush his way through Vaitai. The 6-foot-3, 273-pound defender does get some initial push, but the 6-6, 320-pound tackle stands his ground, keeping the pocket clean for Foles.

Next play, Griffen attempts to use his speed and go around the edge on Vaitai. That’s not happening, either. The second-year player is in perfect position the entire time and barely lays a finger on the rusher, who winds up running himself right out of the play.

Finally, on the very next pass-rush opportunity, Griffen goes to his vaunted spin move. Vaitai sticks with him the whole way. Not even close.

The Eagles wound up punting two plays later, but Vaitai’s ability to handle Griffen allowed Pederson to open up the offense. For example, the 41-yard flea flicker to Torrey Smith in the third quarter doesn’t happen if there isn’t the utmost confidence in Big V to win his one-on-one matchup.

It wasn’t exactly a pancake block or very pretty but Vaitai got the job done. Same again on Foles’ earlier 51-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery, which required the offensive line to hold up in protection for five full seconds until the ball was released.

Vaitai put the exclamation point on his near-flawless performance at the end of the game. With time winding down and the Vikings fully aware the Eagles were running the football, Big V helped clear the way for two first downs.

Minnesota never got the ball back in the final 5:52 seconds, in part because of blocks like these from No. 72.

Griffen is 30 years old. The eighth-year veteran managed just 2.0 sacks over the final seven games of the season, including playoffs. It’s possible, perhaps likely he was worn down by the NFC Championship Game.

Regardless, some people still have this perception that going against Vaitai can rejuvenate a pass rusher who’s in a slump. That clearly was not the case here and hasn’t been for most of the season.

Over the course of his first two seasons in the league, Vaitai has proven he can be a full-time starter in the NFL — maybe better. After all, he just shut down the top defensive lineman on the No. 1 defense in football, doing his part to clear the way for the Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

We've found the 1 thing that scares Joel Embiid

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USA Today Images

We've found the 1 thing that scares Joel Embiid

We've found the one thing Joel Embiid is afraid of.

It's not an opposing big man. 

It's water.

We all know Embiid would have no qualms about sliding into Rihanna's DMs, but prior to those pictures, it was difficult for his mates to get him down a slide in the Bahamas. As evidenced by this hilarious video from Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin.

@joelembiid is not a fan of water slides 😂 (@michaelgrubin)

A post shared by Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) on

Hey, as long as he doesn't have to face-up Hassan Whiteside in a pool, the Sixers should be OK.

In all seriousness though, Sixers fans would probably prefer that Embiid stays as far as possible from any type of contraption that could potentially lead to a freak injury.

Two former Eagles to compete on the Bachelorette

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The Bachelor

Two former Eagles to compete on the Bachelorette

On the last season of The Bachelor, Becca Kufrin, aka Becca K., won the show by ending up with former racecar driver Arie Luyendyk, aka Arie, only to have him call off the engagement and wedding on national TV and propose to the show’s runner-up, Lauren Burnham, aka Lauren B.

Let’s hope these former athletes treat her a little better.

Today on their Facebook page, The Bachelor revealed the men that would be vying for the heart of the once-scorn show contestant and two of them stood out, former Eagles TEs Clay Harbor and Colton Underwood.

Harbor probably doesn’t require as much googling as Underwood because he was drafted by the Eagles in 2010 in the fourth round and pulled in 114 catches and nearly 1,200 yards with eight scores in his career for four teams. He won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2016.

Underwood was literally on the Eagles’ practice squad for six days in 2014 and was on the practice squad for two other teams without appearing in an NFL game.

If you already watch the show, a few former NFL players could be an interesting wrinkle to the house dynamic, but if you’re not a fan, I’m not sure these names, even as Eagles fans, will pull you in.

The show kicks off on May 28 at 8 p.m. on ABC.