Eagles Wake-Up Call: Johnson Welcomes ‘Better’ Offseason Approach
Like Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews, Lane Johnson said he also traveled to Oklahoma to spend time with Sam Bradford this offseason – though his visit was more of the rocking chair and lemonade variety.
“No, I did a lot of sitting,” he said when a reporter jokingly asked if he was out there running routes for the quarterback. “I had to rest this offseason. I was tired.”
Johnson skipped the MMA training during the break (though he may spend a month there later in the offseason, he said) and pulled back on the weight lifting so that the body could heal. The 25-year-old dealt with knee and ankle injuries (at a minimum) over the course of the season. With 44 starts and three NFL seasons now under his belt, he is feeling it more than he once did and taking his cues from other veteran linemen on how to properly recover in-between seasons.
“You’re not working out, lifting, you feel like you’re not up to any good. But I felt it was necessary to get the body back right,” said Johnson.
Particularly after three seasons working under Chip Kelly.
The up-tempo style led to more plays and more exposure to physical punishment. Over the last two campaigns, the Eagles ranked second and first, respectively, in plays run. And Sundays weren’t the only days when the needle went into the red.
“With Chip here, our practices were pretty much the same, training-camp style from OTAs all the way through, so it wasn’t a progression, it was hit-the-ground running and stay that way the whole year,” he said.
“I think we’re progressing nice here, taking it step by step, and just taking a better approach, I think.”
Guys had trouble recovering?
“I can speak for myself, I know I got kind of worn out towards the end,” Johnson acknowledged, “but that’s just kind of the nature of the game. Everybody at the end of the season is either banged up or injured, but we definitely felt it.”
Doug Pederson, in contrast, has been easing the team in. The voluntary minicamp was this past week, and Johnson said they are slowly laying the foundation instead of “trying to win a football game in April.”
Johnson has been one of the more outspoken Eagles regarding the system flaws under Kelly. One tendency that affected him directly was the coach’s decision to rarely deploy help to the tackles on the outside. Johnson was asked about the criticisms of Mark Schlereth and others regarding the blocking scheme being impractical for the offensive linemen.
“It’s just an experience. Obviously I had to do my job, but if you go around and watch – I can just speak for the tackles – you see a lot of chip pro, you see a lot of help. You go watch the past three years, me and Jason Peters went one-on-one the whole game, every game. We’ll see how they handle it out there in San Francisco, but it’s a lot different than regular offenses.”
There will be more help for the tackles in this offense, Johnson said, and more complexity to the scheme overall which should limit the strain that comes with predictability.
They will have tempo in their arsenal when needed , but “right now it’s just a regular pro-style offense, so it’ll be the first time that I’ve huddled since high school,” said Johnson.
Whether that style proves to bear fruit remains to be seen. But count at least one Eagle relieved to have a more traditional approach where a team picks its spots more when it comes to flooring it.
“That’s definitely a smart approach,” said Johnson on Reid’s philosophy of having his players fresh for the end of the season. “I know playoff games mean a lot more than preseason games. I know a lot of guys love Andy here, and I think Coach Pederson is going to do the same thing– pretty similar. Looking forward to it.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“The coach wasn’t sold that this was a wise move, not for $15 million per season.” NFC East Roundup.
“I don’t think anything’s going to be too big for Carson.” Weekend Reading.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Hue Jackson sounds comfortable with the Browns’ decision to move out of the No. 2 slot. From PFT:
“Everybody keeps talking about two of the best quarterbacks in the draft,” Jackson said, via quotes distributed by the team. “No one knows that, right? No one really knows that. We will see how it all unfolds here in two or three years and see if we were right or wrong, but I feel very good about where we are and what we are doing.”
The fact that Jackson currently doesn’t feel strongly enough about Carson Wentz orJared Goff to stay put at No. 2, standing alone, shows that the Browns did the right thing by trading down. Even if the guy who ends up going No. 2 to the Eagles becomes a star, if the Browns don’t believe strongly enough that they’re getting a franchise quarterback with that second pick, proceeding in that manner would have contributed to yet another first-round quarterback disaster for the Browns.
Cris Collinsworth, who accurately predicted that the Rams would trade into the No. 1 position in his first-ever mock draft, released a second mock for PFF. He has the Eagles taking Wentz.
The Eagles are in the opposite situation with Wentz as the Rams are with Goff. Wentz has the size to hold up well in the weather conditions of the NFC East, along with incredible potential and upside that may take a few years to develop, but that’s not as big an issue for Philadelphia with Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel there. (Although I can’t possibly imagine that all three of those guys are still going to be there by opening day). I don’t think Wentz has quite the run skills of Cam Newton, but he wont be far behind, as he is a big powerful guy who will be as productive of a runner as he wants to be and as the team lets him be. That rushing ability will serve him well as he develops as a quarterback.
Three days until the draft.