Currently, the NFL is at a point where it has had enough of steroids in sports. They have started to crack down on performance enhancing drugs, and have increased the punishments for using these drugs. As shown with the yearlong suspension of Josh Gordon for marijuana issues, the NFL is willing to suspend big name players, and they do not care about the reactions from the fans, the teams, or the players.
Recently, the NFL suspended yet another big name player – Philadelphia Eagles OT Lane Johnson. This suspension will last for four regular season games, and has forced the Eagles into a lot of unwanted attention. The loss of Johnson is only for four games; however, it will have a very huge impact on the eagles, and might even cost them a playoff position.
Johnson is a fantastic player, and his loss will be felt. The job of the OT, as a member of the offensive line, is to block defenders and keep them away from the player that has the football. This can also include blocking players from getting to the quarterback, which is a huge part of Johnson’s role with the Eagles. Last season, Johnson was one of the most consistent players on the Eagles, and he only missed one snap on the entire season because of a very mild injury. Johnson was one of the most consistently blockers on the team, and his loss will really hurt the Eagles, especially QB Nick Foles.
With the departure of QB Michael Vick, the Eagles have finally moved away from the running option offense that they have been using for the last few seasons. Now, with Nick Foles at the helm, they have become a pocket passing team. Last season, Foles was absolutely amazing as the starter of the Eagles, and he really made himself seem like a top 10 quarterback in the league. Much of this was due to the protection offered by Lane Johnson. Foles is a very, very talented passer, and the more time he has in the pocket, the better he plays. The Eagles have been known for focusing on the deep ball, and for this to work next season, Foles needs to have much more time in the pocket. With the loss of Johnson for four games, this will be an issue.
For the first four weeks of the season in 2014, the Eagles are playing the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts, the Washington Redskins, and the San Francisco 49ers. Many of these teams have very strong defenses, and they will take many more opportunities to go for the sack with Johnson out of the lineup. This can be very dangerous for Foles, and could even cost the Eagles a spot in the playoffs. The Eagles play in one of the most competitive divisions in the league. With the Eagles, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys in a single division, the NFC East is one of the hardest to actually pull away from the competition, and losing Johnson for four games could really cost his team some valuable wins.