Lane Johnson injury too much for Eagles to overcome

Lane Johnson injury too much for Eagles to overcome

It felt like the Saints playoff game. The Eagles were up 7-0 and a couple plays from taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when Brandon Brooks blew out his Achilles. The Eagles didn’t score again.

This time, the Eagles had taken a 10-0 lead over the Patriots early in the second quarter, and this time it was Lane Johnson, and it was a concussion. But the result was the same. Once again, the Eagles didn’t score.

The Eagles’ offense was utterly ineffective Sunday once Johnson, the Eagles’ two-time Pro Bowl right tackle, left the game after the Eagles’ second-quarter touchdown drive.

That 10-0 lead with Johnson turned into a 17-10 loss without him (see Roob's observations). And while there were plenty of other factors, his absence was glaring.

First three drives? Ten points and 147 yards.

Last nine drives? No points and 108 yards.

“There’s no excuse, we’ve got to be better as an offense,” Brooks said. “But you just don’t replace a Lane Johnson.”

Johnson was carted off the field after getting hurt, which is unusual with a concussion. It might not necessarily be a sign of how serious this particular head injury is, but it certainly wasn't encouraging.

Head coach Doug Pederson said after the game he didn’t have an update on Johnson’s status or the severity of the injury.

“Lane’s impact on our team is well documented,” said Jordan Matthews, who’s been with Johnson most of the last six years. “Obviously, we want him to take his time and make sure he’s OK, but it goes without saying that we need that guy out there when we’re trying to move the ball as an offense.”

Big V — Halapoulivaati Vaitai — played the rest of the game at right tackle ahead of Andre Dillard, the promising rookie first-round pick who played so well at left tackle the last three games with Jason Peters out.

Vaitai was a starting left tackle in a Super Bowl championship, but he’s no Lane Johnson.

Brooks said there wasn’t anything schematically the Eagles weren’t able to do once Johnson left the game.

They did the same thing. They just didn’t do it very well.

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything because he went out that we tried to scheme up differently as far as blocking and stuff,” he said. “We just have to do a better job.”

Johnson’s absence was really felt in the running game.

The Eagles ran 10 times for 47 yards with Johnson on the field, 4.7 yards a pop.

They were 11-for-34 without Johnson, 3.1 yards a pop.

That was a huge part of their game plan but it just wasn't effective after Johnson got hurt.

“Shoot, next man up,” Brooks said. “You’ve got a 100 percent chance of getting hurt. Same thing with me when I tore my Achilles. We’re always fortunate until we’re not. That’s the biggest thing. Got to pray that it’s nothing serious, that he can heal up and come back soon, but that’s just ball, man.”

On the first six drives after Johnson left the game, the Eagles netted 21 yards of offense. They moved the ball a little better late but still didn’t score.

It was just a pathetic all-around effort.

“Obviously, losing Lane probably was a factor,” Zach Ertz said. “I think we were up 10-0 when he went out. And he’s the best right tackle in the league, arguably the best tackle in the league, period, But (you) can never blame it on injuries.”

If Johnson misses time, the Eagles could keep Big V at right tackle or get Dillard some work there and hope Peters can stay healthy.

Either way, it’s a huge blow to an offense that’s already missing DeSean Jackson, Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Alshon Jeffery.

“Nothing against Big V, but Lane’s one of the best in the game, one of the best at what he does,” Matthews said. "His focus and attention to detail but his grit too is like all-elite to me. When he’s not there we obviously miss him, but hey next man up. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, nobody’s going to say, ‘Aww, dang, Lane’s not in, so let’s take it easy on them.’ Everybody’s trying to win games, it’s November football, so we’ve got to have next man up. Big V’s going to play well for us and we have to try to find a way to win.”

Pederson was asked if Johnson’s exit changed anything as far as the way the Eagles were able to operate:

“It didn’t change anything,” he said. “No.”

It clearly did, though. It changed everything.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Let's just say, the Navy Midshipmen certainly know how to win over a crowd in Philadelphia.

On Saturday during the 120th Army-Navy game, a familiar play call was seen.

You might have seen it before. There's a statue immortalizing it in front of the Linc. It happened during Super Bowl LII. Anything come to mind?

That's right. The Philly Special.

What an awesome moment in the middle of one of the best days in sports. Check it out:

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Another myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd, an observation about Duce Staley and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's Random Eagles Observations! 

1. Dwayne Haskins may develop into a big-time NFL quarterback. He certainly has the arm. But right now he’s a 22-year-old rookie with 3 TDs and 7 INTs in seven career games and a miserable 61.2 passer rating — worst among current starter QBs. This is a quarterback the Eagles need to dominate. Pressure him. Mix coverages and blitzes. Confuse him. When you get your hands on a ball, make the interception. When you get your hands around him, bring him down. He can’t drive the offense 75 yards down the field in 10 plays, but he's got a legit arm so don’t allow big plays over the top. Don’t give the Redskins a reason to keep fighting like you did the last two weeks against bad teams. The Eagles are 4-1 against rookie quarterbacks under Jim Schwartz, allowing 12 points per game. More of that Sunday. This shouldn’t even be a game by 2:30 p.m. But I'm afraid it will be.

2. Here’s one for the Carson Sucks crowd: Despite missing eight games the last two years and with three games still to go, Wentz already has the 9th-most TD passes in NFL history by a QB in his first four seasons. Three more in the last three games move him up to 6th. He’s also thrown 35 interceptions. Of the 10 QBs currently ahead of him in TD passes over their first four seasons, only Russell Wilson has also thrown fewer than 44  interceptions in his first four years, and only Wilson and Dan Marino have a higher passer rating. Worst QB ever.

3. The Eagles have used 18 cornerbacks since 2016.  Eight of them are no longer in the NFL.

4. I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory. Did you know the first manned moon landing was actually fabricated and the astronauts were actually on a film set in Arizona made to look like the moon? For real! I saw it in Capricorn One! Some conspiracy theories are hilarious, like the one making the rounds this week. Did you know Jordan Howard isn’t really hurt, he’s sitting out to protest not having a long-term contract? I swear, I got that from at least a dozen people this past week. Yeah, that’s a great way to get a new contract! Pretend you’re hurt, lie about a neck injury, miss five games, watch your free agency value plummet and hope that the Eagles just happen to forget to inform other teams that you were healthy all along but just didn’t feel like playing. Makes perfect sense!  

5. MYTH: “Jim Schwartz NEVER ADJUSTS.”
REALITY: Since 2016, the Eagles have allowed the 11th-fewest first-half points in the NFL  [11.0 per game], but they’ve allowed the 4th-fewest second-half points [9.6], behind the Vikings, Patriots and Ravens. Among the top 20 defenses in the league over the last four years, only the Vikings [2.1-point differential] have a larger first-half / second-half point differential than the Eagles [1.4 points]. Overall, the Eagles have allowed the 7th-fewest points in the NFL over the last four years.

6. I count 21 Eagles players who’ve missed a total of 105 games so far this year, a figure that will go up considering how many won’t be playing the next three. Two things: 1) The Eagles have to take an honest look at every facet of their training, conditioning and rehab this offseason and figure out why half the team is always hurt. And 2) It really makes you appreciate guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Kelce, the only Eagles to start and finish all 45 games since opening day 2017. Not far behind are Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks (44), Fletcher Cox (43) and Zach Ertz (42). Those guys have been there for their team every step of the way — or almost every step — for three years now. They're all-time Eagles.

7. What the heck is going on with Genard Avery? The Eagles spent a 4th-round draft pick to acquire Avery from the Browns in October, and he’s played 20 snaps on defense in five games since. TWENTY SNAPS. He didn’t play a snap on defense in the Giants game. His snaps were supposed to go up as he got acclimated to the defense. Now he’s not even playing. He’s been here seven weeks now, and he can’t even get a single snap on defense? He’s playing a lot on special teams (19 snaps per game), but that’s an awfully expensive special teamer.

8. How bad are the Redskins? They've scored 79 points in six home games. They have eight offensive touchdowns at Fedex Field this year. And five of them were in their first two games. They've scored THREE offensive touchdowns in their last four home games. The Eagles are actually 3rd-BEST in the NFL in road scoring at 29.3 points per game. This REALLY needs to be a blowout.

9. Rasul Douglas is the Eagles’ best cornerback.

10. Think about Duce Staley’s body of work as Eagles running backs coach: 1) Got a 776-yard, 9-TD season out of Ryan Mathews in 2016. 2) Won a Super Bowl with LeGarrette Blount on his last legs and Jay Ajayi coming in halfway through the season. 3) Undrafted rookie Corey Clement, who had 10 catches all year, had a 100-yard receiving game and miracle TD in a Super Bowl. 4) Got over 500 yards and a 4.3 average from undrafted rookie Josh Adams in 2018. 5) Miles Sanders has already broken the franchise record for scrimmage yards by a rookie. 6) Jordan Howard was in the midst of a comeback year with a 4.4 average and 7 TDs before he got hurt. 7) Darren Sproles netted nearly 1,400 scrimmage yards in just 30 games, all after turning 33. 8) Boston Scott comes off the practice squad to pile up 128 scrimmage yards in a critical win over the Giants. 9) Eagles are the No. 12 rushing team in the NFL in four years under Staley even though nobody on the roster has rushed for more than 850 yards TOTAL during that span. 10) All 11 running backs who’ve gotten at least 30 carries under Staley have averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry under Duce. Nine of them have averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry. The Eagles haven’t had a back with 550 yards in consecutive years since Shady, yet the Eagles always seem to run the ball well. The guy’s really good.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles