Lane Johnson agrees: Eagles’ offensive line didn’t do enough to protect Carson Wentz
Opponents' blitz success seems to be a sore subject with offensive coordinator Mike Groh.
The Tennessee Titans, like the Indianapolis Colts the week before, didn't just line up and try to overpower the Eagles' vaunted offensive line. They sent extra rushers, sometimes on a delay. They stunted and shuffled and tried to confuse the protections, with increasing success as the 26-23 Eagles overtime loss rolled toward its devastating ending.
One thing nobody predicted about Carson Wentz's first two games back from knee surgery – that he would take nine sacks and get hit hard over and over, sometimes because he wasn't getting the ball out with optimal quickness, but often because his protection flat-out failed.
When the locker room opened briefly Tuesday, right tackle Lane Johnson, one of Sunday's main culprits, was just about the only player willing to stand and deliver for the cameras.
Johnson gave up the Harold Landry strip-sack that fueled Tennessee's comeback from a 17-3 third-quarter deficit. He agreed Tuesday that the group is "just not being the line we're capable of being. There's been times we've been called the best line in the league, and now we're looking like we're not the best line in the league."
Johnson said mistakes will happen, especially early in the season.
"At the end of the day we're all human. There is no robots, there is no Greek gods," he said. "Except maybe Jason Peters."
Johnson knows the fan base was not pleased with Sunday's fold-up. A reporter asked if, two days after the loss, with the Minnesota Vikings on tap Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, the players are "over it."
"I don't know if we'll ever get over it. We take a loss, we take it personally," Johnson said. "It's always been a good motivator. I've been here six years, usually when stuff's not going good, that's when … you can learn the most about yourself and the team."
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh bristled when a reporter asked why blitz pickup has been such an adventure this year.
"Those are your words. I wouldn't say that," Groh said, before declaring his O-line as good as any in the NFL.
"The guys on the other side, they do a lot of studying, too, and they work hard," Groh said Tuesday. "They had a couple good pressures [four sacks and 11 official hits on Wentz]. They have a good pressure scheme. We knew that going into the game. They do a good job picking — the [defensive] linemen up front knocking guys off the games and making it difficult [on] pass games and getting on edges. A couple instances that happened. And we've had a couple of nakeds, where we [bootlegged] right into pressure and it's resulted in a sack. So, it's a little bit of bad timing, too."
The Titans got two sacks off blitzing into naked bootlegs, but neither Groh nor Johnson felt the Eagles had tipped off the play.
"I think it was just a good call on their part," Johnson said. "I think it happened two or three times in the game. It's unfortunate. That's the way it is."
The Eagles' offense hasn't scored more than 23 points in a game yet, and went 1-for-4 in the red zone Sunday, a place where the 2017 Eagles felt very much at home.
"I feel like we're moving the ball efficiently, we're just stomping on our own feet sometimes," Johnson said. "As the season moves on, we'll progress.
"Obviously, all it goes down to is putting in the work, getting back to work, getting back to where we were."
The Eagles on Tuesday waived undrafted rookie defensive tackle Bruce Hector, who had appeared in all four games, adding another defensive tackle, Treyvon Hester, from the practice squad. The team also brought linebacker Kyle Wilson back to the practice squad.