Eagles tackle Lane Johnson is just a little bit fired up to face the Redskins in the regular season opener Sept. 10, and he has an idea of how that game at FedEx Field will turn out.
“Let me tell you what’s going to happen in a couple of weeks: This team is going to go down to D.C. and whup some [butt] against the Redskins,” Johnson wrote in a piece for the Players’ Tribune published Wednesday. “We’re going to surprise some people. That’s where the momentum is going to begin, and then the hype train is just going to get bigger as the league realizes that the Eagles are back. The NFC East is the toughest division in all of football, and it’s going to get even tougher this season because nobody is going to want to face us. I’m not saying this just to blow smoke, I’m telling you guys this is how it’s going to go down.”
Johnson has waited more than a year to whup some Washington butt since the Redskins clinched the NFC East and eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention the day after Christmas in 2015. Johnson could only watch as the Redskins extended their winning streak over Philadelphia to four and then five games last season, Washington’s longest winning streak against any of its current NFC East rivals since it won six straight against the Eagles and Giants from 1981 through 1984. The Redskins’ 27-20 win in Landover in Week 6 marked the start of Johnson’s 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Johnson said he was suspended for taking a supplement he thought was approved and filed unfair labor practice charges against the NFL and NFL Players Association last season. The time away forced the fifth-year pro to reassess his career.
“That experience of being on the sidelines — and the humiliation of being asked about it on a daily basis (and I’m still hearing about it from fans on Twitter) — hasn’t been for nothing,” Johnson wrote. “It forced me to reevaluate not just my suspension, but also how I carried myself in general. At times in my career I’ve lost focus. Well, I’m done with that. In other words, this situation has lit a fire under my [behind].”
Johnson, who shares an amusing story in his Players’ Tribune piece about Philadelphia fans flipping off the team bus before realizing it was carrying Eagles players during his rookie year, told NJ Advance Media’s “The No Huddle Show” last week that he was looking forward to facing one Redskins player in particular this season.
“I don’t really circle it [on the calendar],” Johnson said. “But, I like going up against Ryan Kerrigan. It’s just always a good battle. It’s kind of like the old days with Jon Runyan and Michael Strahan, just a good guy who tries hard every play. He’s pretty talented. He’s a high-effort guy. I really look forward to playing him every year.”
Kerrigan took advantage of Johnson’s absence in the teams’ first meeting last season, blowing past his replacement, rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, for two sacks on the opening drive of the game. Pressuring Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz might not be so easy in Week 1, though Johnson’s prediction could light a fire among the Redskins’ pass-rushers.