I thought Rob Edwards of the South Jersey Times had a nice take on the progress of Eagles rookie offensive lineman Lane Johnson earlier today.
Lane Johnson has been doing a better job of not standing out lately.
"After costly mistakes during the first few weeks of the season — giving up multiple sacks in a September loss to Kansas City and nullifying a DeSean Jackson TD with an illegal formation penalty against San Diego — Johnson has settled in nicely on the Philadelphia Eagles front line."
Chip Kelly agrees with Rob Edwards' take…
“I think Lane has really come along,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. “He probably played his best game to date against Oakland, and I think with all rookies, it’s the experience factor. The one thing I’ve said about Lane before is he very rarely makes the same mistakes twice, and that’s the mark of a really good football player.”
Offensive line play doesn’t attract the casual observer, but production generated from the line does. The Eagles are third in the NFL in rushing yards per game (147.9) and fourth in the league in total offense per game (413.2). With the quarterback carousel still turning, and running back LeSean McCoy’s recent streak of lackluster efforts on the ground, Johnson and his linemates, at least in part, have to be credited with keeping the offense together.
“I’ve seen a steady progress as the season has gone along,” Kelly said. “I think he’s got a great group of older guys to learn from with Todd (Herremans) and (Jason) Kelce and Evan (Mathis) and Jason (Peters). They’ve really kind of taken him under their wings and kind of fostered that.”
“It’s a lot of fun to come to work every day,” Johnson said. “We’re a bunch of goofballs. It feels like recess at practice, we’re working, but it makes the days go by a lot faster.”
Johnson said the biggest difference between the NFL and college hasn’t been the speed of the game, but the strength of opposing players and the formations the defenses he faces use. Sunday’s matchup with Green Bay will present both of those challenges.
“A lot of players are a lot stronger than in college and the defense is better at disguising things than in college,” he said. “(Green Bay) has two big defensive tackles in B.J. Raji and (Ryan Pickett). They are two good run stoppers and they have linebackers on the outside in Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.”
Johnson is excited to play at Lambeau Field, where his favorite player growing upin Oklahoma was Brett Favre, who spent the majority of his historic career in Green Bay. Kelly doesn’t care about all that, just the progression of his first-rounder.
“The one thing we know is he’s a great athlete and a he’s a great effort player,” Kelly said. “If you want to play here, you’ve got to be a great effort player, and I think Lane understands that. He’s always played with great effort, and as he gets through more experience, as he sees more diverse looks, he’s just going to continue to grow.”
This was supposed to be a shootout between
Rookie Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly will likely try to guide the game in that direction. Foles threw seven touchdown passes in a 49-20 win over the Raiders this past Sunday. Wallace, replacing Rodgers just one series into Monday night’s eventual loss to the Bears, threw for just 114 yards.
“We’ve been in the same situation. I don’t think your offense drastically changes. Seneca has been in the league for a long time and I think he has a good understanding and grasp of that system. Their offense obviously does change because Aaron’s one of the all-time great quarterbacks, not just of this era, but of many eras, so I think it’s gotta change. We’re still preparing for all the other guys that are healthy and ready to go and expect a hell of a game,” Kelly said.
This one has shootout written all over it, unless the Packers defense can do what it didn’t do against the Bears: get off the field on third down.
“Sometimes it’s a tool in a toolbox,” Kelly said of his up-tempo offense. “It’s not something we do all the time. It can make the defense line up quicker, play at a different speed than they normally practice or play at. I think it’s a weapon just like three-tight-end offense is a weapon, just like five-receiver offense is a weapon, just like an empty formation is a weapon. It’s just something that adds to your skill overall on offense.”
With Wallace at quarterback, can the Packers play the Eagles’ up-tempo game?
“We expect everything. Mike (McCarthy) is such a good football coach. It would be very wrong of us to short-change them on anything they can do. They have a lot of weapons in (Jordy) Nelson, getting healthy a little bit at receiver, getting (James) Jones back. I think the offensive line is playing well and when you see how (James) Starks and (Eddie) Lacy are running the ball right now, we expect a huge challenge on Sunday,” Kelly said.
Both teams are playing behind backup quarterbacks. The difference is that Wallace went into the Bears game as the Packers’ backup, whereas Foles got a week of preparation as the Eagles’ starter heading into the Raiders game.
“Really good week of preparation. I thought we protected him. Nick played really, really well, but I thought we protected him really well and I thought our receivers had a big day, too. But he was extremely accurate with his throws,” Kelly said of Foles.
“I think that’s the biggest dilemma for every coach in the NFL. How do you get your second quarterback reps? You know, you can’t. You have to get your number one guy started. Going into the game Aaron wasn’t hurt so you’re trying to get Aaron as many reps as you can so he’s prepared to play. It does help, I’m sure, for Mike to have Seneca in there and getting reps in practice,” Kelly added.
Wallace vs. Foles doesn’t have the same ring as Rodgers vs. Vick but, nonetheless, Kelly will likely try to make it an offensive showdown.