Eagles’ OT Lane Johnson To Start Against St. Louis Rams On Sunday


Nov 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

So far this season, the Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles have been an offensive rollercoaster. Heading into last Sunday, the Eagles were ranked near the bottom of the league in opening half points, but led all teams in scoring through the third and fourth quarters. Nick Foles, who threw only two interceptions in 12 starters last year, matched that total in a single game versus the San Francisco 49ers, and now sits with four on the season through as many games. LeSean McCoy currently has only 192 yards on 70 carries,  ranking 49th out of 52 running backs in yards per attempt. Even their “All-World” offensive line has struggled in their second year in the system, ranking 23rd overall in pass blocking efficiency, with left tackle, Jason Peters, and injured center, Jason Kelce, being the only positively graded players up front.

All of that negatively might seem like overreaction considering the team was 3-0 heading into Week 4. However, trailing massively to Jacksonville before pulling out a comeback win, squeezing by the struggling Indianapolis, and narrowing defeating the Robert Griffin III-less Redskins  doesn’t leave much to hang your hat on.

In their first bout against a genuinely strong defensive unit, the Eagles offense failed to put a single point on the board, instead resting on the laurels of some excellent defensive and special teams play. Nick Foles threw the football 43 times, completing a dismal 48% of his attempts for a mere 195 yards and no touchdowns. The offense was 5-for-13 on third down conversion attempts. Worse, their offensive drive chart looked like something out of a horror movie: Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Fumble, Fumble, Punt, Interception, Punt, Turnover On Downs, Interception.

So, what does this have to do with the St. Louis Rams?

Well, failure often sparks charge, particularly in the NFL world. One of those changes for Philadelphia will come at the right tackle position. Andrew Gardner, through four games, has allowed 12 quarterback pressures, and is graded out 63rd out of 67 qualifying offensive tackles in pass blocking this season. To fill that void, the Eagles will start Lane Johnson, their Top 10 pick from the 2013 NFL Draft, who is finally eligible to return from his four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

With both their starting center, Jason Kelce, and starting All-Pro guard, Evan Mathis, out on Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles will have essentially three new starters on the offensive line, including David Molk (a 2012 seventh round draftee with 108 total snaps at center) and Matt Tobin (a 2013 undrafted free agent with one game of NFL experience).

Considering the St. Louis Rams have recorded a mere one sack in three game, none of which have come at the hands of Robert Quinn, facing off against a severely weakened Philadelphia offensive line could be just what the doctor ordered for “Sack City.” Let’s hope Gregg Williams’ and his troops can take advantage on Sunday.