The short-term news about Lane Johnson’s injury is not good and the long-term prognosis isn’t much better.
The news about nickel back Avonte Maddox isn’t good, either. Both players suffered injuries in the Eagles’ 40-34 loss at Dallas on Saturday.
Johnson is expected to miss the final two games of the regular season because of what ESPN reported is a torn tendon in his abdominal area. ESPN said the Eagles hope to have the right tackle back for the playoffs.
It might be overly optimistic for Johnson to return so quickly, but the Eagles *can* get him an extra week of rest.
The Eagles need to win one of their final two games to clinch the NFC East and home-field for the playoffs. If they earn the bye, the Eagles won’t play until either Jan. 21 or 22.
NFL Network reported that Maddox suffered a “significant toe injury,” and is expected to be sidelined “indefinitely.”
After quarterback Jalen Hurts, Johnson might be the most important player on the Eagles’ offense, certainly on par with center Jason Kelce.
What do these injuries mean? Can the Eagles win without Johnson and Maddox?
They can, of course. But you can bet it’s going to be more difficult. Will Hurts have the same amount of time to pass? Hurts has enjoyed clean pockets most of the season.
Will running lanes be as readily available? Miles Sanders slashed for his first 1,000-yard season behind the NFL’s best offensive line.
The Inquirer posted this stat about Johnson: When he plays, the Eagles are 72-44-1. When he does not play, the Eagles are 12-20.
Johnson has this remarkable streak of not allowing a sack since October 2019, against the Cowboys.
He holds an even more remarkable streak of not allowing a quarterback hit since Week Seven last year against the Raiders. It was the only quarterback hit he allowed last season.
Johnson was named to his fourth Pro Bowl this year. He has played 92.6 percent of the snaps.
Game after game, play after play, you see Johnson on an island, single-blocking opponents’ bull-rushing defensive ends. And game after game, you see Johnson keeping defenders at bay.
When Johnson went down in the fourth quarter, he was replaced by versatile Jack Driscoll, who has played 21.5 of the season’s snaps. Driscoll is the likely candidate to replace Johnson moving forward.
Driscoll, a fourth-round pick in 2020, has started 14 games in his career. He has played both tackle positions and right guard.
Driscoll started Week Five at Arizona and allowed a sack when left tackle Jordan Mailata had a shoulder injury.
Maddox’s injury is more complicated given the Eagles’ secondary situation. Josiah Scott is a possibility. So is safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who has played the nickel.
Gardner-Johnson is eligible to return this week from injured reserve after suffering a lacerated kidney. It is unknown if Gardner-Johnson will be ready to play.
If Gardner-Johnson can play and fills Maddox’s slot, rookie Reed Blankenship can play safety.
Maddox has played in nine games with eight starts. He has 43 tackles with three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a sack, an interception, three passes defensed and three forced fumbles.
Maddox left the game after sacking Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
These are significant losses and the Eagles’ roster depth will be tested.