By Matt Lombardo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- While quarterback Carson Wentz is authoring an NFL MVP resume in his second season, Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson is simultaneously building a case that he is the most dominant offensive tackle in the game and he may just be the most important player on the Eagles’ roster.

Johnson’s value to the team is clearly evident in the fact that since Wentz was chosen No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles own a 14-3 record in games that he is in the lineup and were just 2-8 without Johnson last season during his 10-game PED suspension.

Beyond wins and losses, Johnson has gotten the upper-hand in dominant fashion against some of the premier pass rushers in the NFL this season. Johnson has upped his level of play significantly in 2017 while authoring a nearly impeccable resumè to be selected to his first career Pro Bowl.

The names of the defensive ends that Johnson has lined up against this season reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of premier edge rushers in the NFL.

Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers, Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants, the Cowboys’ Demarcus Lawrence, and perhaps the signature moment from Johnson’s signature season was his matchup against Denver Broncos’ All-Pro Von Miller.

Coaches tape cuts of Johnson throwing Miller around like a rag-doll went viral on social media, and triggered jubilation in the Eagles’ offensive line meeting room that as a group has forged a not-so-quiet confidence and swagger.

Eagles center Jason Kelce says he’s seen Johnson’s confidence balloon as his level of play against the best pass rushers the league has to offer have helped power the Eagles’ high-flying offense.

“You definitely see that type of swagger,” Kelce told NJ Advance Media. “You’ve seen him grow and mature, and gain confidence as he’s gone up against the ‘best’ guys in the league. Obviously, he had a tremendous game against Von Miller. Lane’s one of the few guys that have actually blocked Von all year, but it was the same thing against Ingram and the Chargers. You can literally go down the list … There have been so many elite guys that he’s gone up against all year, and I wouldn’t say even one of them got the better of Lane. At all. If anything, I think Lane got the better of them. He came into this year extremely confident. You really see how that confidence and that swagger that he’s the best in the league.”

Johnson’s success against the likes of Miller, Lawrence, and Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan is a direct result of an impeccable attention to detail, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham says.

“Obviously have to be good at film study,” Graham told NJ Advance Media. “Lane knows his opponents really well. We talk about guys all the time … Against this guy, this is what you have to do. When you face that guy, this is what you’re going to have to deal with. This week in practice, we have to work on this.”

Graham says that the advice he gives Johnson is often reciprocated as he prepares to line up against some of the highest paid left tackles in the game each week.

“That’s what we’ll do with him, and he’ll give me the insights on offensive linemen and what kind of sets they use … Are they jump-setters? Are they lateral setters? Do they come out and 1,2,3 step to the side instead of stepping back? It’s just little tendencies that we try to help each other out with.”

Perhaps what is most impressive, particularly in those plays that get a rise out of teammates in meetings, is that Johnson is winning his battles one-on-one and has received the least amount of help of any offensive tackle in football.

According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson has received help via a blocking tight end or chipping running back on just 16.6 percent of snaps this season.

One of the things that has driven Johnson to take his game to a higher level is the fact that opponents have been taunting him for his 10-game suspension in 2016.

After serving a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL's Performance Enhancing Drug policy in 2016, Stoutland says he believes that Johnson is using his suspension and the fallout as motivation this season.

"He's always had that in him," Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said recently. "I think it's at a different level. He's gone to another level right now. Maybe his past, maybe he's learned from his past. Maybe that was good for him. Maybe bad things happen when you're younger, and you learn to appreciate everything a little bit more. He's different this year."

A wry smile came across Stoutland’s face last month when it was suggested that Johnson is playing the best football of his career this season.

“Ya think?’ Stoutland retorted, before offering a glowing endorsement of Johnson’s season to date. "He's off the charts right now. I just think he's made his mind up that he wants to be a dominating player. Whatever that takes from his standpoint. Whether that's meetings, from the time he walks in to the time he leaves here every day, it's all business for Lane. Lane's a worker."

As Johnson’s performance against marquee competition has shown, the year-over-year improvement since being chosen No. 4 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft have led to his emergence as the game’s premier offensive tackle and have been a catalyst for quarterback Carson Wentz’s dramatic improvements from the pocket this season.

“He’s been an unbelievable player since he’s gotten here,” Kelce told NJ Advance Media. “Every year you see him progressively getting better. He’s an unbelievable talent physically, and athletically. He’s strong. He has all the tools you need. When you put on top of all that an incredible desire to be the best at his craft … An incredible desire to get better every day — I think Jason Peters is a big reason why Lane has that mentality — You see a great player on Sunday’s.

“The guy is out there battling every single day in practice, giving it his all. We have a great guy on scout team that gives him a great look on the field every day, and that’s Steven Means. He’s a physically freak, but he has an unmatched work ethic.”


film don't lie !