Correct your mistakes but don’t dwell.
That’s how you move forward from a terrible night, the kind that Eagles left guard Isaac Seumalo experienced Week 2 in Atlanta, Seumalo said as he prepared for Sunday’s visit from the Detroit Lions.
“Technically, I was doing some things that I don’t normally do. I think I was oversetting a little bit. I think I played a little high,” Seumalo said. “It’s just things that all training camp and the first week [of the season] I hadn’t done any of that. Then, for some reason, [I had] just one of those games that things kind of pile up.
“I started feeling better in the second half about things. [But] you want to play a complete game.
“Tuesday we’ll watch the film and stuff, and as soon as we watch the film, man, I put that all behind me, because you can’t let it ‘domino effect’ you. You’ve got to move on. I still have a ton of confidence in myself going into this Sunday. … Correct my issues. Get back to what I’ve been doing and who I am. I have a lot of confidence I’m going to do that.”
Eagles teammates and coach Doug Pederson spoke supportively of Seumalo, in his fourth season with the team but still working on his first calendar year as a full-time starter.
Two years ago, Seumalo performed poorly in Week 2 of the Super Bowl season, at Kansas City, and he was replaced, ultimately by Stefen Wisniewski, for the rest of the year. Wiz doesn’t live here anymore; Seumalo is an established starter who won’t be cast aside over one bad week, even if it was really, really bad.
On Friday, someone asked Pederson how he would know if it was time to make a switch at left guard.
“It’s not time,” Pederson said. He referred to Nelson Agholor’s dropped pass late in the Atlanta loss, and Zach Ertz’s inability to stretch the ball for a final-seconds first down that would have kept the Eagles alive.
“Here’s what I know: Everybody is going to have a bad game, right?" Pederson said. "One game does not decide somebody’s season. Am I supposed to bench Nelly for dropping a pass or Zach Ertz for not getting a first down?
“You're not going to do that. It's not going to define Isaac. It's not going to define our season. … One game, to me, doesn't determine if we need to make a move at any position on the team.”
Right guard Brandon Brooks said it’s easy to get caught in a downward spiral.
“A lot of times, what starts happening is, you start thinking about all the bad stuff that happened,” Brooks said. “I think the first thing you have to do is let him know, we don’t feel any less about you as a player, as a person. I even said, way back after the Kansas City game, I wish he’d gotten another opportunity … to keep playing and battle through it.
“The first thing I told him [after Atlanta] was, ‘Hey, man, I still think you’re a great player. This is just a learning experience. Don’t sit and beat yourself up, because, obviously, you came out here, and you tried. You did everything that you thought you had to do to come out here and be successful.’ Every day I see him put the time and the work in.
“And secondly, let him know, ‘This ain’t a Kanas City situation, man. You’ll have another opportunity going forward to keep playing and work your way through it.’ I know he will. I know he’ll bounce back. He’ll be fine.”
Pederson said that to make a lineup change, “for me, it would have to be a repetitive thing or an injury thing. But in this case, I have so much trust and ability and skill in Isaac, not at all.”
Right tackle Lane Johnson said Seumalo, whose father, Joe, is defensive line coach at San Jose State, is “super smart” and will figure things out.
“Any time I’ve had bad games … I try to learn as much as I can from it,” Johnson said. “He’s so self-motivated that he’ll pick it up. He’s a great player as far as a guy who can play any position on the offensive line. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that.”
Pro Football Focus, whose ratings aren’t entirely scientific but are as good as anything available to the public, gave Seumalo a terrible 25.2 overall grade for the Atlanta loss. He got a 19.5 in pass-blocking and a 29.4 on run-blocking. The 2017 Kansas City game, which got Seumalo benched, produced a 40.2 overall grade, 42.7 in pass-blocking, 38.1 run-blocking.
In 2017, Seumalo never really bounced back from being benched. He got some opportunities here and there because of injury situations – 25 snaps against Denver (8.7 pass-block rating from PFF), 44 at the Rams (28.3 pass-block rating), 40 in a home game against Dallas (29.2 pass-block rating). Last season, he saw action at all five spots on the line, with nine starts, and compiled a 62.1 overall number.
In the Washington game, Seumalo had no problems – 70.7 overall PFF grade, 72.4 pass-blocking, 67.1 run-blocking. But Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett, who sacked Tom Brady three times in Super Bowl LI and is the second-highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL at $17 million this year, according to overthecap.com, repeatedly walked Seumalo into the backfield.
When defensive end Adrian Clayborn lined up inside, he, too, caused Seumalo problems. Seumalo ended the evening charged with two sacks and half a dozen hurries. He also was flagged twice for holding and once for a false start.
Asked if moving on from such a debacle with your confidence intact is something a young lineman learns as he goes, Seumalo said: “Definitely. ... A lot of guys who have maybe similar personality traits, you want to do real well. Sometimes the mistakes are what lingers, and that kind of leads to more mistakes. … It kind of keeps compounding.”
He said his linemates’ support was a big help as was recalling a favorite maxim of offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
“Stout is always saying, ‘No man is an island. You must draw your strength from others.’ It’s super easy to go with these guys that have been through it and are veterans and are really good players,” said Seumalo, who is 6-foot-4, 303 pounds, and turns 26 next month.
“I feel that as I’ve gotten more experienced in playing alongside these other four. You kind of learn that, hey, you’re not going to win them all, and you’ll have bad games here and there, but … the faster you move on to the next play and the next week, the better you’re going to play.”
Asked what he meant when he referred to guys with similar personality traits, Seumalo said. “I just feel like I can sometimes overthink stuff. So I’m continually telling myself to move past stuff, bad or good. You can get caught up on a good play, too.
“In my head, I’m moved on from it already. … I feel good and confident. I’m going to continue to feel that way and go in on Sunday and just play with my hair on fire, play loose and have a good time.