Brian Johnson

Q. What happened on the missed communication that led to the timeout that had to be called? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: We just had a miscommunication on a personnel grouping. Really never should have happened.

Any time that happens, obviously it’s not great. We ended up getting to the play that we wanted to, but something that you obviously don’t want to do.

Q. Can you take us into the sequence after the penalty that backed you up to first and 20? Those three plays and why you called them? (Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: When you get in those type of four-minute situations, there are three different things that you’re managing at that point. I think the first is obviously down and distance. You’re managing the clock. Obviously, you don’t want to try to give them the ball back and then you’re managing the kick line. All three of those things really come into play.

So, the first down, we get four. Second and 16, [Cardinals S] Budda [Baker] makes a fantastic play. It was a play that had a chance to be really, really big and be a big hit. Credit to Budda Baker. He made a fantastic play on that particular play. Then what ends up happening is you lose four yards and so you’re third and 20. The priorities of what you’re trying to manage really change each play throughout that sequence.

So now you get yourself into a third and 20, and you want to put yourself in a position to score points, because that’s not obviously an area on the field where you’re going to punt the ball and with the way the wind was in that stadium on that side, like we had to get to the kick line.

That was the third and 20. Obviously had multiple options on that play call. If you get a pressure look, that’s what we are going to, and if we didn’t get a pressure look, then the play would have been something else. The guys executed what we tried to do. Unfortunately, just weren’t able to get it done.

Q. Is there any validity to the argument that that’s overthinking, worrying about all those things, where you just operate the offense, utilizing your best players, getting it to WR A.J. Brown, just trying to attack and score? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Any time something doesn’t work, obviously I think that’s a very normal and natural reaction. But I think we’ve played situations like that very, very similar, when you talk about third and super long, in field goal range, close to the line, that happens. But to answer your question, any time that something does not work, obviously you kind of go reassess and be as critical as possible and say, I wish or maybe we could have or I could have done something different.

And maybe that would have worked and maybe it wouldn’t have, but I think that’s the nature of the game that we play.

Q. How about second and 16, you mentioned clock management in terms of perhaps yielding a longer third down with the run in that situation, how much were you balancing the clock versus gaining substantial yards to make an easier third down? (Brooks Kubena)

BRIAN JOHNSON: It’s both, right. That was a play we’ve run over the last couple weeks for some really explosive runs. Had a 15-yarder, had a 10-yarder earlier in the game on a very similar play. That one, with those guys in that situation, second and 16, you try to catch them off guard playing with a second and pass call and see if you can pop one and get some yardage to get you into a safe spot to where you can go be super aggressive on third down once you’re in comfortable field goal range.

We end up losing four and that kind of changed the mode and the mindset for the third down play.

Q. Why wasn’t A.J. more involved in the second half? (Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: We didn’t run a whole bunch of plays. He had one catch in the second half. I don’t remember exactly every single pass that we ran in the second half, but A.J. is a great player and we’ve got to force him the ball sometimes and make sure we get him going.

Q. When you talk about the kick line on that third and 19, whatever that was, you were at the 30 at that point, so you’re still within K Jake Elliott’s range, at that spot — but is the conservative call there more about the fear of taking a sack in that situation? (Jimmy Kempski)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Really, a sack right there, effectively gives you zero points probably in that case. So yeah, you want to give yourself the opportunity to score points, and when you have those third and super long situations, they all play very, very differently. I think for example, you take a look at a couple weeks ago, we had a third and 20, and we called a go route. But the ball was just in a completely different area of the field with a different circumstance in terms of how to manage the game.

So, points are obviously at a premium at that point, and that was the direction.

Q. Is Head Coach Nick Sirianni in your ear telling you to be aggressive or conservative there? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: We have constant communication in terms of the game management and how we want to execute different scenarios and different outcomes that come throughout the course of the game, whether that’s two-minute, four minutes, all these different situations that pop up. It takes everybody in terms of all of these different clock managements and situations that come up throughout the course of the game.

Q. What was his message to you there? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, ultimately, before we got the penalty, we wanted to try to score. On the third and 20, at the third and 20, we’re trying to make sure that we can ensure some points and get a field goal and not put ourselves in a situation where we lose yardage, and you have some safe that’s going to get completed and that’s going to be a decent play versus whatever looks they show.

Q. You mentioned A.J. His numbers have been down for five or six weeks now. What are you seeing there and you are talking about forcing it to him, how do you balance whether you need to force it or just run the offense? (Reuben Frank)

BRIAN JOHNSON: A.J. is a fantastic player. He demands a lot of attention defensively. He’s had a fantastic year to this point. I think he’s still on pace to have a career year.

A.J. is somebody that obviously everybody in this building has a lot of trust, a lot of respect for and we’ve got to do a great job of getting him the ball. I have to do a great job of getting him the ball.

Q. How much does the second half game plan change when it goes from 21-6 to 21-14 when your time is diminishing? (Brooks Kubena)

BRIAN JOHNSON: The game plan really didn’t change much. It’s always about us and our execution and what we do. Unfortunately, what ended up happening, we had a three-and-out in that first drive and we had a third and six and we ended up not converting. You get the ball back and it’s 21-21 and you go down and score.

I think just our mentality and our mindset, nothing really changed for us in terms of the second half of how we wanted to attack, how we wanted to move the ball and how we wanted to execute.

Q. Going back to that second-to-last drive, you talked about the desire to get points there regardless of settling for a field goal. To that point in the game, the defense had conceded three straight touchdowns in the second half. Why didn’t the defense’s play factor into the decision to not go for a touchdown? (Olivia Reiner)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I don’t know if I can answer that question for you. I don’t know if I can answer that question.

But for us, offensively in terms of the situation and what we were trying to accomplish, that was the mode that we were in offensively.

Q. In high-leverage situations, not just this game, but any game, from your perspective, you’re always trying to get the ball to A.J., WR DeVonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert, Nick Sirianni tells us that all the time but is there more of an impetus to get the play makers, the big-time play makers involved in those high-leverage situations? (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: For sure. But I also think that all of those guys are more than capable, and we always talk about the play doesn’t care who makes it. We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that can make plays and that have made plays throughout the course of their career and throughout the course of their time here. We have a lot of faith and confidence and trust in all 11 guys out there.

And when you do get in those high-leverage situations, guys are ready and willing to go out there and handle business and make plays when their number is called.

Q. First drive of the game, third and two, what were you trying to do there? Does the thought of just trying to maybe control the clock yourselves and use your running game there go into it? (Bob Brookover)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, all those third and twos are very unique in terms of those guys and knowing a little bit of what our mode is on some of those third and twos and just based on that field position, we felt like, or I felt like it was a chance for us to potentially get an explosive play and create a chunk.

Again, when it doesn’t work, obviously I will accept that and move forward and continue to try to put our guys in the best position possible.

Q. In general when you have a game where you are not getting a lot of offensive possessions, does it change the way you call plays or the game plan? (Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, there’s really two schools of thought to it. I think for us, the biggest thing is you don’t panic, you just go out there and just focus on the execution, regardless of whether you have 12 possessions, six possessions or 20 possessions. Each play becomes so independent.

Now what ends up happening is when you have less plays, mistakes become magnified, and so you have to really focus on the cleanliness that you play with, the operation and the execution.

Q. You said the expression here is “the play doesn’t care who makes it. ” In your experience in 30 years of football, does the player care who makes it? (Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, I think the player does care. Those are the type of people you want is you want people who want the ball in their hands. There is no doubt in my mind with the game on the line, [QB] Jalen Hurts wants the ball in his hands. A.J. Brown wants the ball in his hands. DeVonta Smith wants the ball in his hands. Dallas Goedert wants the ball in his hands. Michael Jordan wanted the ball in his hands. But sometimes like that ball got passed to John Paxson and Steve Kerr, and they hit the shot as well.

This is a team game, and it forever will be a team — it is the ultimate team game, and it takes everybody, every single time. Fortunately for us, we have a bunch of guys who are more than capable of taking over games and being the best in the world at what they do. We’ve got to just continue to keep working and put ourselves in a position to get ready to roll here.