Five weeks into the NFL season and there are still more questions surrounding this Eagles team than there are answers. Perhaps one of the most puzzling is simply ‘what’s happened to the offensive line?!’. It seems like only yesterday that the unit were steamrolling anyone in their path and now, the team have given up more quarterback hits than 31 other NFL teams.
More specifically the kingpin of the line, Lane Johnson, has endured a particularly bad stretch. From allowing more QB pressures than any other tackle in the league with the exception of two, Johnson also surrendered two strip sacks in 3 weeks. It’s uncharacteristic to say the least…so what’s going on?!
“I wish I had an answer.” Johnson openly admitted after the loss on Sunday. “As far as offensive line, and me personally, I have to pick my game up. I’ll bite the bullet on this one. I know I’m capable of being a great player and as bad as it is, we got a big one against the Giants. As early as it is, we must win against the Giants coming up. Disappointing is what tonight is but we still got a long way to go.”
The video above breaks down some of Johnson’s mistakes and sheds some light on what could be causing the apparent step back in efficiency, but it’s not all on his shoulders. There’s one reason Johnson gave for his own drop in production however.
“Over-kicking I think. I thought the blitz was coming off the edge, I over-kicked it, the defensive end came under me and that’s what happened. It’s all angles, it’s all fine lines. I’ll take the blame for my play and I’ll pick it up.”
As stated in the analysis, one massive factor we’re not looking at closely enough is the array of pass-rushing moves he’s now facing. There’s no easy answer or fixable trait that will magically solve the problems Johnson is facing against explosive pass-rushers like Harold Landry, but if there’s one man who knows how to handle this situation, it’s a future hall of famer.
“Just stay locked in and stay positive.” Running-mate Jason Peters said when asked what advice he would give the franchise right tackle. “The fans, they want more out of the offensive line. The media and the critics are going to be on him. I just told him to stay off Twitter and off the internet, stay locked in because you’re a great player. Just come to work every day and just fix it. Right now we’re struggling on the offensive line because we have to block longer. We have a quarterback that’s coming off of an injury and he wants to make a play. We just have to block longer in order for him to make a play. We just have to be better in pass protection.”
It will be interesting to see if Johnson can pull himself together moving forward, the current state of the O-line is completely unacceptable…but there’s a lot less on Johnson’s shoulders than perhaps a lot of fans first thought.