PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jon Runyan knows a thing or two about offensive line play, and more specifically, about playing right tackle.
The 2002 Pro Bowl right tackle spent 14 seasons in the NFL, including nine with the Eagles. Runyan, 42, who spent time in politics and is now working as the NFL’s vice president of policy and rules administration, called into the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show on Tuesday to discuss the play of Eagles rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
Vaitai, or Big V, started for the suspended Lane Johnson and struggled in his first NFL action on Sunday, allowing five pressures and two sacks in the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to the Redskins.
Listen: Jon Runyan on the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show
“He had some that were mental,” Runyan told his former teammate Ike Reese and co-host Michael Barkann when asked about Big V’s mistakes on Sunday. “There weren’t a lot of technical or physical breakdowns, it was just not being in that situation and not recognizing it and not blocking the right person. Because, he’d never been there — it’s called experience. And that’s really the difference between a starter and a backup in the league, is you have the experience to where you’re going to see that strange situation once a game, maybe twice a month. And if you don’t react properly to it, it creates an issue for a team. Your quarterback gets hit and that’s really what it is. He just needed the repetition and obviously with Lane being the starter and being in there, and not being hurt, the guy didn’t have the opportunity to get any snaps. So yeah, he’s learning on the run.
“But from what I see, from the technical aspect of it — there’s a couple where he’s out over his toes,” Runyan continued. “That’s going to happen, veterans do that. But from a technical and physical standpoint, it looks like he has the ability to do it, he just has to get comfortable with the x’s and o’s of it.”
Related: Eagles Studs And Duds: Week 6
Runyan is optimistic about Vaitai’s future in the NFL.
“Well I think the biggest thing is, he doesn’t look timid,” Runyan said of the fifth-round rookie out of TCU. “That confidence is the first one because it’s going to give you something to stick your flag in. The two biggest ones I saw with him — and it comes with timing. They were both on pass sets and he was coming back and he ended up over-setting and drifting to the outside, and the defender comes in underneath. Which is one of the hardest things to do, and it’s all timing, it’s all repetition, and it’s all leverage. It’ll come to him.”