The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t expect to be cleaning out their lockers on Tuesday morning following their wild card matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the struggles that were seen toward the end of the regular season showed their face again in the playoffs, ending the season unceremoniously.
Right tackle Lane Johnson didn’t dance around what the record clearly shows for the Eagles, who were 10-1 at one point this season before finishing 11-6, followed by a 32-9 blowout in the playoffs.
“It’s embarrassing when you start 10-1 and lose six of seven,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “We had six weeks to tell you how we were going to fix it, we didn’t do s—. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in this kind of position. I never wanna be in this position again.”
As Johnson alluded to, the Eagles knew they had a playoff spot, so getting things fixed before what transpired Monday night was always the goal. Instead, the two losses to the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants – two teams in the top six of the 2024 NFL Draft after sub-par seasons – to end the year gave Philly five losses in their last six games.
Still, there was a glimmer of hope from Eagles fans that the team would get right when it mattered most.
Instead, the defense continued to be a problem, especially in the secondary with busted coverages and lack of tackling. Meanwhile, the offensive line came under scrutiny for not being able to handle blitzes from the Buccaneers defenders.
Of course, offensive scheming comes into play as well in this case, but Johnson wasn’t making any excuses. In fact, he continued to tell the hard truth about some of the stuff he saw from his fellow linemen that he doesn’t want to see in the future.
“What I tell my guys, the O-line, no matter what the f—ing scoreboard is, you play,” Johnson said, preluding the statement with moments throughout the season where he’s seen some poor body language from teammates. “No [sloppiness], no f—ing clapping your hands, no sulking after bad plays. You go up to the line of scrimmage like nothing f—ing happened, like a robot.
WARNING: VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
“I think something that needs to be addressed as far as the start of next season, you never give your opponents anything. They see that s— on film – sulking, bad body [language], all that stuff. You can’t give your opponents anything.”
Johnson, the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Eagles out of Oklahoma, said he believes he has a few good years left in him. When healthy, Johnson has been a mainstay on the Eagles’ line for over a decade.
He, alongside players like Jason Kelce, fellow tackle Jordan Mailata, and guards Landon Dickerson and Cam Jurgens, were arguably the best offensive line in the NFL this season. They will need to replace Kelce now that he’s reportedly hanging up his cleats, but there’s much more that needs to be answered after the Eagles’ fall from grace this season.
One of the main questions is whether Nick Sirianni’s job is safe as head coach, especially with candidates like Mike Vrabel, Jim Harbaugh and Bill Belichick on the market. Again, Johnson knows the Eagles had time to correct themselves, but nothing changed.
While blame will always fall on the players for struggles, coaches need to shoulder that as well.
It’s an odd situation for the Eagles, a team many believed would have their redemption in the Super Bowl this season after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs last February in the big game.
No matter the case, Johnson wants his teammates to be tougher in 2024 and beyond.