After seeing the dreadful performance of rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai on Sunday in the loss to the Redskins, it is easy to see that Johnson ruined the Eagles chances of making something out of this season. It is common knowledge for football fans that whichever team stays healthiest and builds cohesion, usually succeeds, especially on the offensive line (Don’t tell the Vikings that, though).
Johnson’s suspension has now put the unit, which was one of the top ones in the league, into scramble mode. Head coach Doug Pederson is stuck between starting the rookie Vaitai or shuffling around players, inserting Matt Tobin or Allen Barbre into the starting lineup. Pederson stated his confidence in Vaitai and believes he will improve, but nothing will compare to the line without Johnson, who individually was having one his best seasons in his career.
Losing Johnson is like losing a security blanket for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz was able to have confidence in the pocket knowing that he would receive good protection from a solid offensive line, like we all saw in the first four games of the regular season. However, Wentz knew he was in trouble right away this past Sunday when his jersey was ripped up on the opening series against the Redskins. Johnson’s absence affects not only all the offensive lineman, but also the entire offensive unit overall.
To make it even worse, the timing couldn’t be worse for the Eagles. Starting this past Sunday, the Eagles are facing an extremely though stretch of games that include a tour through the NFC East as well as battles against some of the best offenses and defenses in the NFL this season. All told, theEagles have the toughest remaining schedule in the league. Johnson is due to return in Week 16 in a Thursday night tilt against the New York Giants, a game that will not have any importance other than maybe the Eagles playing spoilers against the Giants.
Heading into this season, the expectations were low for this team. With the 3-0 start, that changed the landscape. You cannot say “3-2 is what we though this team would be right now.” No, after starting 3-0, I expected this team to be 5-0 heading into its first real tough game, against the lone undefeated team, the Minnesota Vikings. Now, the defense has delivered two poor performances and the offensive line is doomed for most of the remainder of the season. After starting 3-0, I expected the Eagles to win the NFC East, like many others did as well, but the NFC East is turning out to be one of the toughest divisions in all of the NFL this season and the Eagles are going to flounder to the bottom, finish sub .500, and gift a pretty nice first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns.
Yikes. I need an adderall.