Lane Johnson remains an anchor on the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2019 season with a 9-7 record and a trip to the playoffs. In spite of sustaining injuries at the wide receiver and running back position, one of the reasons they were able to get as far as they did was the play of their offensive line, and one of their most recognizable (and talented) players was veteran Lane Johnson.
Despite the fact that the right tackle missed four games last year, he ended up getting his third Pro Bowl designation in his career. That’s three in a row for anyone that’s been counting.
The Philadelphia Eagles need a full 16 games from their star right tackle.
Not long ago, Johnson said that the Eagles would be contenders again if they are healthy. That one feels like a tall order, especially since the “Birds” are hit by the injury bug on a yearly basis. Then again, maybe he was talking about himself and not the team. Think about it. Ever since he arrived in Philadelphia, Johnson has been nothing but a force, when he plays of course.
Since the Eagles acquired him with the fourth-overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the right tackle has only played the full 16-game slate twice. The first time was his rookie campaign. The second time came in 2015. Moreover, he’s missed 20 out of 132 possible games in his seven-year career, but to the veteran’s defense, he’s only been ruled out six times in the last three years.
Nevertheless, the right side of the Eagles offensive line will suffer as a whole if Johnson misses an extended period of time, especially now that Brandon Brooks is out for the rest of the year. As things stand now, the guard position is going through a transition period with Jason Peters switching from left tackle to right guard. For that reason, it will be imperative for Johnson to play all 16 matchups for the third time in his career. Philadelphia can’t simply afford to have more turmoil at the line of scrimmage.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, there’s Johnson, and then, there’s everybody else
If for some reason, injury or some sort of COVID-19 infection rules Johnson out (let’s hope it isn’t that second one), Philly’s dropoff in talent is a steep one. Third-year offensive lineman Jordan Mailata is a potential backup (and that’s if he makes the team). He was a seventh-round pick in 2018 who hasn’t played a single snap in his NFL career.
This past April, Philly drafted both of the Auburn Tigers starting tackles from a season ago, but they’re young and raw. Meanwhile, Johnson received an 88.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. That makes him the fourth-best player at his position and the best player on Philadelphia’s offensive line.
In 759 snaps last season, Johnson committed five penalties while allowing just one sack, four hits, and 18 hurries. It’s doubtful Mailata or any of the other potential replacements will have that kind of production if they see significant playing time this upcoming season.
With Brooks out for the year and Peter’s needing time to learn the nuances that come from playing a different position than the one he’s played for his entire tenure in Philly, Johnson must continue playing at a high level and remain injury-free in 2020. If he does, the Eagles’ chances to make it back to the playoffs for a fourth straight season will increase dramatically.