It’s been an up and down season for Eagles’ veteran Lane Johnson, who fought his way back from a mental health problem that kept him away from the team for three games, but came right back to work anchoring the offensive line when he could return. The offensive tackle was a clear snub from the Pro Bowl lists announced last week, but the big guy got his highlight reel moment on Sunday against the Giants, scoring his first career NFL touchdown.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni and many of his teammates spoke after the game with reporters and highlighted why it was such a special moment for a guy who works inadequately for his team and does not often receive the praise he receives deserves.
Jalen Hurts acknowledged that Johnson has been motivated all week by not making the Pro Bowl and the QB was glad he got a touchdown.
“We swapped jerseys after the game, actually, because I never threw a touchdown to an offensive tackle. But, he’s a freak athlete. Never threw a touchdown to an offensive tackle and I gave him my jersey – drew it, gave it to him. He gave me his sweater and left it in my closet, and he wrote on it, he said, ‘When I caught that ball, I did not know what to think. I could only think what you’re of those Texas boys know. ‘
It’s just so fun to see him make such plays, and of course play at such a high level, as he has tackled all year. I know he may not be in the Pro Bowl, but I know he’s better All Pro of the first team, the player he is.
Jordan Mailata talks a lot about how Lane Johnson, along with Jason Peters, has been a big brother to him since he arrived in Philly, and he has had an enormous impact on him and his development in the tackle position. Mailata emphasizes that if there are cool touchdowns from a big man, it’s even better if it’s a guy like Johnson.
“It’s Lane. He’s an offensive lineman – big man touchdowns, you know, everyone loves to see that. But, if you really know the man, and you play with the man, and you know how much he’s joining the team, gives, then you keep that for him.
Respect for Johnson goes beyond what he does for his teammates and in the locker room, with returning Boston Scott talking about how great it was to see the veteran smiling at everything he has experienced this season.
“Only he fights through things off the field too, I have an enormous respect for that dude. And, just to see him with a smile on his face after all the work he’s done – he’s been an elite, one of “It’s the best thing to ever do, and it’s always nice to see big boys come to the end zone and get a chance. It’s cool.”
Hurts had similar feelings about the touchdown meaning more with what Johnson went through, calling it a sign a strength and also a sign that Johnson has the support of his teammates through thick and thin.
“I think it’s a testament to perseverance and of course to being strong. Lane knows his teammates have his back. He knows I have his back. And, by going through the things he went through earlier in the season , of course to be able to be back and be with us, and to be a big part of our football team and our attack, I’m glad for him. But I’m glad he’s good. I’m glad he came to the end zone today. ”
As for life, Nick Sirianni explained that the call for “East Texas” was because that’s where Johnson comes from, and it’s something they’ve had in their arsenal this season, but not something that’s part of the game plan every week. It has not been recorded in recent weeks, however, so although they have had some reps in practice, the head coach provided the coaches for the installation and the players for doing the work.
“We had a lot of confidence in the game because of the way we trained this week, and just confidence in Lane. I mean, Lane is a phenomenal football player. I do not agree that he is not in the Pro Bowl, I think. that you have a chance to have a man who will become a first or second team All-Pro and not in the Pro Bowl. That, it was great to get him a touchdown. He just deserves so much more credit than he gets.
This guy is just that – I’ve never been an offensive tackle who’s as talented as this guy. It’s like, he could play tight-end if you want him to too. You should see him play football. This guy is so incredibly talented, I got just as much respect for him. It’s always great when you can reward guys who do not get into the end zone with such a touchdown.
I think it was his first touchdown since high school – I’m sure he scored a lot of them in high school, because man, he’s just a stud. And just as happy that he anchors our offensive line and looks forward to the awards he will receive because he deserves them. “
DeVonta Smith said Johnson’s touchdown was “great” and that the drive ahead he called for the ball. Sirianni pointed out – with a big smile on his face – that Johnson had not actually been an eligible receiver until that game, so he could not have thrown the ball to him on the previous drive.
Alex Singleton called the touchdown, “sick”, with a big smile, and Mailata had no words with his initial reaction – though he wished they would have spent more time figuring out a celebration for it.
“I will not swear … but it was great. It was great, man. I’m so glad he got a touchdown. For Lane, a man of his caliber, he deserves it.
Mailata was also asked if Johnson is the type of man to lobby for a chance to get into the end zone, but he mocked the idea.
“No, he’s not such a man. Lane just lays his head down and works. He’s one of the hardest workers in the room. Athletically gifted, he’s crazy, so he just puts his head down, he works hard We look to him, he inspires us, and then we find out these tricks and we are like, ‘How are I?’
Rodney McLeod was enthusiastic about seeing the touchdown on the sideline, and although he was disappointed that they could not see Johnson’s dance moves, he thought the whole thing was pretty cool.
“Man, impressive hands. Jalen [Hurts] you have to take some zipper from the ball, man (laughing), it’s a lineman. But, he laid his hands on it, he caught it. I was hyped for him, man, very excited to see him score his first touchdown. I thought he would show us some of his dance moves, but I think he just jumped into the crowd. But it was nice to see. “
Hurts would later say he did not have to take any of the goodies because the two had worked a lot in the off-season, which he called Johnson, “equipped and well-prepared,” for the heat.