This week will be yet, another major test for Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been the best team in the NFL so far this season. Their stout defense, unstoppable offense and solid special teams play have made them what they are through ten weeks of football. With the hot defensive play and the MVP candidate of a quarterback, a lot of other positions seemed to have gotten overshadowed. One of the key components for Carson Wentz’ MVP-caliber play has been right tackle Lane Johnson and the rest of the offensive line.
Going into the 2017 season, the Eagles were expected to have an elite line. Pro Football Focus ranked them at number one before the season even began. They ended up having a shaky start to the season, which left fans with doubt. But as time went on, the offensive line became exactly what everyone had expected.
Former first-round pick Lane Johnson has been a phenomenal blocker ever since he stepped onto the field four years ago. His talent and blocking abilities up front made it tough for pass rushers to beat him. Unfortunately, the only player that was beating Lane Johnson, was Lane Johnson. He had to serve multiple suspensions for failed drug tests involving PED use. Ever since his 10-game suspension last season, Johnson has been a man on a mission.
Man on a mission…
Johnson had plenty to prove this season. For the most part, he has been a force up front and has made it very difficult for pass rushers to get to Wentz. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his fair share of struggles this season, though. Johnson suffered a concussion back in Week five against the Arizona Cardinals, which kept him sidelined against a tough Carolina Panthers defense. Fortunately, his backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in his shoes well enough to keep the quarterback protected.
When Lane returned back to the field, everything got right back on track, but it wasn’t perfect. Johnson struggled against a difficult San Francisco 49ers defensive front. Weather conditions could excuse his sloppy play, but it sure didn’t look good. This happened a week after the season-ending injury that happened Johnson’s fellow tackle, Jason Peters. It was time for Johnson to be the big man to step up and it didn’t go so well. With the Denver Broncos coming to town the following week, Johnson was in for the biggest challenge of his season.
No Lane is open…
During Week nine, Lane Johnson was set to take on Denver’s Von Miller. He was going up against easily one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the league. Coming off of a rough game, Johnson was facing his biggest test to date. Miller would only end up getting one sack during the entire game on somebody else’s expense. Johnson ended up acing the test against Miller, but it doesn’t get any easier.
This week, Johnson has to face off against the NFL sack leader of 2017. Dallas Cowboys defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence. Although he made it look easy against Von Miller, Lawrence will not be a walk in the park for Johnson. He currently leads the league with 11.5 sacks for a ridiculous 126 yards lost through nine games.
The Dallas defense isn’t particularly known for being a solid unit. But one thing is for sure, the pass rush has been difficult to contain for opposing teams. Lawrence has managed to pick up a sack in eight of his nine games played this season. Will the Eagles be able to keep Lawrence out of the backfield? Absolutely. If Lane Johnson brings the same intensity to Dallas like he did against Denver, there is no doubt he can contain Lawrence. After all, when this season is all said and done, Johnson could potentially be recognized as the best right tackle for 2017. Book it.