The ‘Lane’ to Eagles’ success runs behind Johnson
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — A 3-1 start has the football world buzzing about the Eagles with the NFL Network about to debut a much-improved team at No. 3 in its latest power rankings.
That and a dollar will get Doug Pederson a cup of coffee at Wawa but it's pretty impressive for Mike Lombardi's favorite coach.
One of the main reasons for the Eagles impressive start has been the presence of right tackle Lane Johnson, who opened up to reporters in a wide-ranging interview at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday.
Johnson admitted to his own anxiety issues in response to a question about linemate Brandon Brooks and even copped to some of the trash talk he hears after his two PED suspensions.
The Chargers' Damion Square, a Texas native like Johnson, called the big right tackle "Roid Boy" last week, albeit in a good-natured way.
"Damion Square this week, we were actually in the weight room and it was kind of see-through, and Damion walks over and he was just like 'what's up, Roid-Boy," Johnson said. "I was like; 'alright.' When we got out on the field, we settled it. But, he was joking and having fun. But, still, it's the type of stuff that makes you mad."
Brooks' anxiety issues caused him to miss two games last season and got so bad during one episode, he was forced to go to the hospital.
"A lot of guys deal with anxiety," Johnson admitted. "I mean, I have anxiety. There's a lot of guys that deal with the same stuff. ...I heard a stat that at least half of football players have anxiety issues, and deal with it. A lot of people will view that as a weakness and think that it's not manly to say that you have it, but, the truth is that in a high-stress and high-demand league, a lot of guys have it. It's just a matter of how you deal with it."
To date, Brooks seems past his problems and has combined with Johnson to form a tremendous right side for the Eagles.
Johnson, meanwhile, is still dealing with the guilt of his 10-game suspension a year ago in which the Eagles fell apart without him, compiling a 2-8 record.
That means Philadelphia is a polar opposite 8-2 in the Pederson era when Johnson is on the football field.
"I'm just happy to be here. Last year still weighs on my mind all the time," Johnson said. "Every time I'm on the field, I just try to play my best. I think about it every day. Every time that I come in here, I think about the games that I missed. I let my teammates down."
In the ultimate team game, it's hard to pin success or failure down to one player but the numbers are also the numbers when it comes to Johnson's participation.
Through four games, ProFootballFocus.com has rated Johnson as the fifth best tackle in football (Jason Peters is No. 2) and the third best RT behind only Tampa Bay's Demar Dotson and San Francisco's Trent Brown. And that's after playing against a murderer's row of pass rushers through the quarter pole (Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul and Joey Bosa).
"Not to be arrogant but I think when I'm in there, I think I definitely help this team," Johnson said.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen