Lane Johnson Should Drop His Suspension Appeal
The Lane Johnson situation continues to drag on and on, beyond belief.
After the NFL dragged their feet on announcing the suspension until the third week of the season, Johnson appealed the suspension so that he could participate against the Steelers, and then begin serving his suspension after the bye week.
However, the process has been anything but swift, and despite an appeal being filed over three weeks ago, no word has come down from the league. It appears as though Johnson will be able to take the field against the Lions on Sunday.
While its certainly nice that Johnson will be available, the long-term impacts of putting this suspension off could come back to hurt this team.
I was ok with the idea of Johnson appealing the suspension to play against the Steelers, and then giving the Eagles the bye week to make sure that their new-look offensive line was ready to go. But now is the time to get the new line combination some in-game reps.
Realistically, its very unlikely that Johnson will win his appeal. The league just doesn’t go back on their disciplinary actions. The absolute best-case scenario would be for a reduction in the suspension. With those thoughts in mind, I’d much rather get the offensive line into a groove over the next two weeks against weaker opponents in the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins, rather than have the suspension appeal drag on and possibly have Johnson’s first missed game come against the ferocious defense of the Minnesota Vikings.
And the longer that Johnson delays serving his suspension, the harder its going to be on this team during the stretch run at the end of the season. If Johnson were to begin serving his suspension now, he’d be eligible to come back for the final three games of the regular season, which include two potentially key division games against the Giants and Cowboys.
Or imagine if the Eagles do indeed make the playoffs, and Johnson’s suspension carries over to the postseason, or to the beginning of next year? The best route for this team to go is to just have Johnson serve the ridiculous suspension and move on.
Lions A Perfect Matchup For Eagles’ Defense
A year ago, the Philadelphia Eagles were demolished by the Detroit Lions in a completely pitiful, embarrassing effort on Thanksgiving day.
Former defensive coordinator Billy Davis stood by helplessly as Matthew Stafford connected with star receiver Calvin Johnson for three touchdowns, taking advantage of the matchup on then-rookie Eric Rowe, who Davis refused to give any help.
Stafford would finish with five touchdown passes, and the Lions dropped 45 points on over 400 yards of offense.
Just 11 months later, many things have changed for both teams, and the matchups have now swung drastically in the Eagles’ favor.
The biggest difference is that instead of the incompetent Davis (who likely will never be seen in the NFL again), the Eagles now have former Lions’ head coach Jim Schwartz at the controls of the defense.
Schwartz is very familiar with Stafford from their time together in Detroit, and runs a much more aggressive scheme than Davis, putting emphasis on the pass rush and creating turnovers. The Birds have been one of the league’s most dominant defenses over the first month of the season, allowing a total of 20 points to opposing offenses through three weeks, including just three to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.
The Detroit offense has been erratic and inconsistent. After a good showing against the Colts in Week 1, its been a struggle for this team to put up 20 or more points per game. They lost a low-scoring affair to the mediocre Titans. They were blown out and put up most of their points in garbage time against the Packers. And last week, lost to the a depleted Bears team that could muster only 17 points of their own.
Their offensive line has been shaky, allowing 10 sacks in the first four games. They’ll now face a powerful Eagle pass rush that has been able to consistently generate pressure with their front-four. The Birds have 10 sacks in three games from six different players, with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham leading the charge with three apiece.
Schwartz’s pass rush should be able to generate plenty of pressure on Stafford, and force him into several mistakes.
The Lions have adjusted to life without Calvin Johnson fairly well, and have been pleasantly surprised by the play of former Bengal Marvin Jones, but have been just as disappointed by veteran Golden Tate, who was benched against Chicago a week ago. The Eagles are expected to get veteran corner Leodis McKelvin back for the game, adding a welcome boost to the secondary.
The Lions also don’t run the ball very well. They rank 22nd in the league in rushing offense, and have already lost starter Ameer Abdullah for the season. Theo Riddick is the current starter, but his specialty is as a pass catcher out of the backfield rather than running between the tackles, and fellow reserve Dwayne Washington is also hurt.
The Lions will lean heavily on Stafford to do a lot of passing, and that plays right into the Eagles’ hands. Between the matchup of the Eagles’ defensive line, and Schwartz out for revenge against the team that fired him, The table appears to be set for another strong defensive effort from the defense on Sunday.
Quick Thoughts From Around The League
- Odell Beckham is starting to meltdown out in New York. Between his lack of involvement in the offense, and the penalties he’s been taking during games, he’s received criticism from his teammates (most notably Eli Manning), and his focus seems to be getting worse, not better. This is entirely on head coach Ben McAdoo. He’s got to manage Beckham better, and get him the ball early and often in ballgames. McAdoo’s playcalling has been horrendous to start the season.
- The Panthers should be in full-blown panic mode after their disgraceful effort against the Atlanta Falcons, allowing Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to torch them for over 500 yards in the air. The Super Bowl hangover is real in Carolina.
- Bill Belichick’s luck with his reserve quarterbacks had to run out sooner or later. The Cleveland Browns are going to get demolished in the worst way possible on Sunday when Tom Brady makes his return to the New England lineup.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown nine interceptions in the last two games.
- It’ll be interesting to see if the Broncos start Paxton Lynch on Sunday, and if he plays well, will they keep going with him or go back to Trevor Siemian? Lynch clearly offers much more upside, and Denver has the weapons in place for a quarterback to thrive.
- Chip Kelly continues to get humiliated week to week. Ever since starting the 2014 season 9-3, Kelly is just 8-15. Are there are Chip-bots still kicking and screaming about those two 10-win seasons?