The last time was a disaster.
And after Jack Driscoll’s performance against the Jets, it was fair to be a little worried when we learned just hours before Sunday’s tip-off that All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson would miss the Bills game and Driscoll would be starter against one of the toughest players in the NFL. fronts.
“I came out and didn’t play my best football,” Driscoll said of the Jets game, the Eagles’ only loss this year. “You know it. I know that. It was frustrating, but my thing was to improve every day. If they call my number, I’ll be ready to go.
“I didn’t play up to my level. … Today was the opportunity to go out and show what I can do.”
And he did exactly that as the Eagles won their fifth straight game since the Jets’ loss and improved their league-best record to 10-1.
Even with just a few hours notice, Driscoll came out and battled for more than 60 minutes in the Eagles’ 37-34 overtime victory over the Bills. A little rough start on the Eagles’ first drive, but then he settled down and played really well.
The Eagles gained 378 net yards (279 after halftime) and scored 37 points against a defense that allowed 18 per game.
Driscoll said offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland called him around 11:30 a.m. or noon and told him Johnson was out and would start.
“It’s time to go,” he said. “We have a game to win and no one is going to sit there and feel sorry for me. Just go in and play the best you can. It’s not going to be perfect. Do the best you can to help the team win.”
Jalen Hurts was sacked twice, but only for seven yards and none on the Eagles’ final six drives, which included four touchdowns and a field goal.
“Phenomenal,” Jason Kelce said of Driscoll. “You didn’t really notice a lot of negative plays. Obviously, Lane Johnson, our success with Lane in and out of the game is very well documented. He is a big part of what allows us to function at a very high level.
“Jack found out late that he was going to have to come in and play, and I think he’s played some really good football for us. I know things probably didn’t go his way in the game against the Jets, but today he comes out and really plays really well against a lot of really good defensive ends.”
Since the Eagles drafted Driscoll out of Auburn out of UMass in the fourth round in 2020, he’s played the same role, playing backup guard and tackle and never knowing when he’ll have to play.
He has started 17 games at three different positions: four at right tackle as a rookie, eight at right guard and one at right tackle in 2021, one at left tackle and two at right tackle last year and now one at right tackle this year.
“Jack was more prepared,” Kelce said. “He had a lot more reps at tackle. When he went to the Jets game, he was moving all over the place because we had some extenuating circumstances that had him preparing for multiple positions.
“This week, he was really honing in at right tackle, so I think even though he had to play last minute, he got a lot of reps this week and spent a lot of time thinking about getting ready at right tackle, which I think can be done. . Today I saw better technique and many things done at a high level.”
Hopefully, Johnson will be able to return to the 49ers on Sunday. The abysmal field conditions had something to do with the Eagles’ decision to sit him out Sunday.
But what if Driscoll has to play again? He definitely inspired a lot of confidence with the way he performed on Sunday.
“Obviously, Lane is one of the best players in the NFL,” Nick Sirianni said. “I have no doubt that Lane Johnson is one of the best players in the world. We have a lot of confidence in Jack Driscoll. I haven’t seen the tape, but I have a feeling he played an exceptional game just because of the way the game went, the rush and all those different things.
“Lane wanted to play, he wanted to work hard. She just didn’t feel like she could do it in that sense. I know that hurt Lane, that he really wanted to play in this game. … Obviously we did a lot of our planning thinking about how we were going to help (Driscoll). He started a little early in the game to do some of those things, but he adapted and played a really good game.
“We felt like as the game went on, that was our plan, to see how the game was going, see if we needed to continue there. As the game progressed, we gained more and more confidence in Jack’s ability to stop this avalanche. Great contribution from Jack.”
Everyone knows how valuable Johnson is.
He is a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. A Hall of Fame caliber right tackle.
And everyone has seen the numbers. Before Sunday, the Eagles were 70-31-1 since 2016 when Johnson plays and 10-22 when he doesn’t.
That’s now 11-22.
Because Driscoll was ready.
“I mean, our job is to be ready at a moment’s notice,” he said. “It’s no different if it’s the first play of the game or before the game or (whenever). My mentality is to be ready because I don’t want to be the reason we go in there and we can’t execute or we can’t be good offensively.”