How Will the Philadelphia Eagles Replace Injured Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox?
The Philadelphia Eagles suffered just their second loss of the season in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys, but they lost much more than just a game on Christmas Eve.
Right tackle Lane Johnson and nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox, two integral pieces of this team on each side of the ball, both suffered injuries on Saturday that could knock them out for the rest of the season. It won’t be easy for Philly to replace two starters once the playoffs begin, but it may have no other choice.
So, which backups will the Eagles use to replace Johnson and Maddox, and what do these injuries mean for the team’s Super Bowl hopes?
Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox could miss the rest of the season
The Eagles have stayed impressively healthy for most of the 2022-23 season, but they’re starting to get bitten by the injury bug at the worst time.
On Saturday night, Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson left the game against the Cowboys and never returned. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported in a tweet a few days later that Johnson suffered a torn tendon in the abdominal area, which will sideline him for the rest of the regular season. The Eagles are “hopeful” that he can return to the field for the postseason.
Earlier in the game, slot cornerback Avonte Maddox left the field after sacking Dak Prescott in the second quarter. On Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported in a tweet that Maddox suffered a “significant toe injury” and is out indefinitely. He’s likely out for the rest of the year.
The Johnson loss is obviously more significant for Philadelphia. The RT just set an NFL record for consecutive games without giving up a sack (28), and he’s a major reason why the Eagles have been so effective in both the running and passing games this year.
How will the Eagles replace Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox?
Replacing a Pro Bowler on the offensive line is an impossible task, but the Eagles do have a handful of capable backups waiting in the wings. In Johnson’s case, I see two realistic options to fill his spot.
- Start Jack Driscoll at right tackle and keep the rest of the offensive line the same
- Move Jordan Mailata to right tackle and start Andre Dillard at left tackle
Option 1 is the simpler choice, and it won’t stunt the momentum Mailata has built at left tackle this season. Only, the Eagles may trust Dillard at LT more than they trust Driscoll at RT, so making two switches could give them the strongest starting five along the offensive line.
As for the Maddox injury, I also see two possible fixes.
- Keep C.J. Gardner-Johnson at safety and use Josiah Scott and Zech McPherson at nickel CB
- Move C.J. Gardner-Johnson to nickel CB and keep Reed Blankenship as the starting free safety
Gardner-Johnson has been exceptional as a safety this season, but he’s the most versatile defensive back on this team. Once he returns from IR (possibly this week), CJGJ would be Philly’s best replacement for Maddox at nickel.
Whatever the Eagles decide to do, it won’t make up for the production they’re losing with Johnson and Maddox. Philadelphia will need to overcome a few major injuries if it wants to accomplish its Super Bowl dreams, but that was also the case in 2017. We all remember how that turned out.