Philadelphia Eagles: Examining Lane Johnson’s importance


The Philadelphia Eagles get much better results when right tackle Lane Johnson is on the field protecting franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.

The Philadelphia Eagles are like all other teams in the National Football League in one obvious respect. Without top-notch blocking from the offensive line, the ability to control football games and score points becomes impossible.

Both tackle positions are widely regarded as the most critical positions on the line. If these spots aren’t manned very well, elite edge rushers are able to have their way against the quarterback and maybe a running back who is trying to get out of the backfield.

Following the Eagles 30-17 opening-day win over the Washington Redskins at FedExField, there were numerous elements to look back on. Among them was the performance by Carson Wentz, who passed for just over 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

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The “Lane Effect”:

Having said that, the presence of right tackle Lane Johnson cannot be understated.

There’s not much in the way of official statistics that can be used to properly gauge how an offensive linemen performs. We can always review film and count sacks given up or pancake blocks made, but there’s not much beyond that.

In Johnson’s case, there’s a unique and simple metric that we can look at.

Fox Sports analyst Nick Wright made an interesting observation on an episode of First Things First following Sunday’s win. He pointed out just how well Wentz performs when Johnson is in the lineup and just how bad things can get when he isn’t.

You’ve heard over and over that the Eagles are a near-perfect 6-1 when Johnson is in the lineup along with Wentz? If you happened to see the segment on Fox, you caught this fact.

Still, alarming is the fact that Philly is a dismal 2-8 when Wentz lines up under center for a game without Johnson.

This is beyond compelling. It shouldn’t be a surprise though. Great blocking and great protection means winning offense. It doesn’t always matter how young your quarterback is. In fact, if Johnson hadn’t served a 10-game suspension last season, we could argue that the Dallas Cowboys might have had more to play for real in Week 17 against the Eagles. The division’s standings might have looked totally different. Dallas had home field advantage for the NFC Playoffs all wrapped up while the Eagles were making vacation plans.

Given Johnson’s obvious importance, is it possible that the Eagles could have at least clinched a Wild Card Playoff berth a season ago?

Yes, Johnson matters – a lot.