Whether or not Lane Johnson is able to come back for the playoffs, the Eagles face at least one crucial game without him.
Johnson, who hasn’t allowed a quarterback hit in his last 24 games or a sack in his last 28 games, is out indefinitely with a torn adductor muscle.
He’s reportedly going to try to play in the postseason instead of having surgery immediately. But the immediate challenge for the Eagles is replacing him for at least their game Sunday against the Saints and possibly longer. Possibly much longer.
“We’re fortunate to have a number of guys who’ve played a lot of football,” Jason Kelce said. “Nobody’s going to be Lane Johnson, but we have a number of good players on this team and we don’t need somebody to be Lane Johnson, just someone to operate so the offense can still proceed and be itself with whoever’s who’s out there.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of football and we’re fortunate to have those guys get full-speed in-game snaps, so we’ve got a number of options.”
Nick Sirianni was in full “competitive advantage” mode Wednesday when asked how the Eagles would replace Johnson. But most likely, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will make a 1-for-1 switch, with third-year pro Jack Driscoll replacing Johnson at right tackle.
It’s possible Jordan Mailata could swing out to right tackle and former 1st-round pick Andre Dillard could take over at left tackle, but that seems to be the less likely option.
“They’ve been ready all year,” Mailata said. “That’s the beauty of ‘Stoutland University,’ preparing guys all year so whenever they get their time to shine it happens. Jack’s been preparing all year for this moment. Get out there and do his thing.
“We always talk about next-man-up-mentality, that’s great, but someone as great as Lane - not saying Jack isn’t up to that standard, but the presence of one player can affect the line. Will we (still) be the best (offensive line)? Not sure, can’t tell you that. Will we give everything we have? One hundred percent. You can expect 200 percent from Jack or me, or whoever’s playing right tackle this week. That’s one thing I know, the player always rises to the standard of Stoutland University.”
Dillard has started nine games in his career – four as a rookie in 2019 and five in 2021, eight of them at left tackle. Driscoll has started 14 – five at right tackle, eight at right guard and one at left tackle.
They’re both solid guys. They’re just not Lane Johnson.
“Part of being a teammate is believing in the guys around you, believing in the people next to you,” Kelce said. “Jack is a really smart player, he’s played well in most of the games he’s played for us, so we have a lot of confidence in Jack, a lot of confidence in Andre, a lot of confidence in (backup center) Cam Jurgens, anybody who goes out there.
“A lot of that starts with Stout and his ability to get guys prepared. All these guys are here for a reason, and they wouldn’t be here if they couldn’t play in this league so we’re very confident in all those guys.”
Driscoll has one of the more challenging roles on the team, backing up four spots. He finished up for Johnson playing the final 11 snaps at right tackle Saturday in Dallas.
“It takes time to adapt and get used to the scheme, but coach Stout does a great job getting us ready, especially the backups, to understand you’re one play away at multiple positions and he does a great job getting us reps at practice, at guard, tackle, right, left,” Driscoll said.
“It’s not going to be perfect but just try to get better each game, each play. Probably the most important part is understanding and accepting your role. Just understand it and embrace it.
"Lane’s the best right tackle in the world, but if I’m out there I’m going to give it my all, play hard and execute and trust my technique. Playing with such a great group of guys and next to Isaac (Seumalo), it makes it so much easier.”