Q. What do you think is going on with the running game the last few weeks? It hasn’t been where it was earlier in the year. (Reuben Frank)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think the biggest thing is we have to continue to put the guys in great spots and keep pounding at it. The run game can be unique at times. It can be tough sledding for a while and then you continue to push and pound and then you break one and that evens kind of out your yards-per-carry.
But for us, what we want to accomplish is really to try to be both efficient and explosive in the run game. We have to continue to find ways to put the guys in great spots. Make sure our landmarks are right and make sure we are doing a great job of making plays once we are blocked up to the second and third level.
Q. Is it a little bit of other teams’ box count kind of contributing to maybe some of the zone reads or RPO calls being passes rather than runs? (E.J. Smith)
BRIAN JOHNSON: That’s the beauty of the RPO stuff is it plays out how it plays out. Earlier in the year when we were calling them, we were getting a lot of hand-off reads and as of late, it’s kind of been reversed. We always talk about playing each play independently when it comes to that stuff and being able to make the correct decision in that game because there is some gray area that goes into some of the RPO stuff. But that’s obviously a huge part of what we do, and we just have to continue to keep refining it.
Q. It’s been awhile but you had two years with Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, if you look back at that, did you envision him becoming the sort of the player that he’s become? (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: For sure. He’s obviously someone who I’ve spent a lot of time with, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, someone who I consider close. He’s done a great job to this point in his career, and there is — I really didn’t expect anything different from him. So ever since I’ve known him, he’s always been extremely intelligent and a really, really good player. He works extremely hard at it. So, him having the type of success that he’s had throughout his professional career, it really isn’t surprising at all.
Q. The run WR A.J. Brown has been on the last six weeks, have you seen anything like that before in your time? And also, do you think the more teams focus on trying to stop him that will open up things for the running game? (Martin Frank)
BRIAN JOHNSON: A.J. has been on a tremendous tear the last couple games. He’s obviously a great player. He’s making the most of his opportunities when the ball comes his way. I would imagine that defenses start to even put a little bit more focus and attention on him. And once that happened, I think that’s kind of the beauty of our offense is we do have guys who can make plays at a bunch of different spots.
For us achieving that balance of being able to use all five positional players in a manner that’s contributing to the offense is obviously the ultimate goal and that can look a little bit different each and every week. So, fortunately for us, A.J. has been playing great and hopefully we continue on that path.
Q. What stood out most about QB Jalen Hurts’ performance on Sunday? (Dave Zangaro)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, I think we settled down. Obviously, we didn’t have a great start. We went three-and-out on the first drive, which was not good but the cleanliness that he played with, the conviction that he played with, the accuracy, it was — he played a really, really clean game. Guys did a great job of making plays. I thought our protection was outstanding. I thought the guys did a fantastic job of blocking their front four, which is a really, really good unit, and the guys played clean. The guys made plays it was good. It was a good effort.
Q. Cowboys LB Micah Parsons has had limited production against you guys to this point. What does it take to keep him contained? What goes into it? (Tim McManus)
BRIAN JOHNSON: He’s obviously one of the best players, best pass rushers in this league, and for us, that matchup, it’s obviously going to be something that is heavily discussed in our offensive staff room of ways to try to put our guys in a position to have success. Because when you have a great player like Micah is, and you play against that guy multiple times throughout the course of the year, there becomes a sense of familiarity.
I think there is always an exciting challenge to when you go against elite players and our guys will be ready for that challenge.
Q. It’s only been a couple games but how much has WR Julio Jones impacted you guys in the red zone? (Chris Franklin)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, he made a fantastic catch for a touchdown in the red zone against Washington. He’s been great to be around. I mean, unbelievable person. He works extremely hard. He fits in the room. I don’t know — when I was watching the film Sunday night on the way back, and you just saw the reaction of our team once he scored and everybody kind of ran out and celebrated, it was awesome to see. Just kind of showed the amount of respect, the amount of connection that we have as a team; that when guys go out there and practice well and play well, it shows how locked in everybody is.
Q. The eye test says that T Jordan Mailata is playing his best football since he’s been here. Do you see that, and if so, what’s kind of led to that? (Reuben Frank)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, I think this is a rep game. It’s about getting the necessary reps and I think usually in any profession, generally the more you do it, the better you get at it. I think playing left tackle is really no different.
Jordan obviously has a tremendous amount of talent. He [Jordan Mailata] works extremely hard. But, he’s getting comfortable in what he needs to do, and I think that shows not only on game day but throughout the course of the week. Being at practice and having to go against [DE Josh] Sweat’s and [LB] Haason’s [Reddick] and things of that nature, it truly is iron sharpening iron. You get reps against really good players throughout the course of the week, and that shows up on Sunday.
Q. In the offseason, were you getting signals that WR A.J. Brown was about to take his game to another level? Any practices or moments that you remember, feelings around that? (Tim McManus)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, I think A.J. has always been very talented. He’s always been a very hard worker. But I think you just saw his level of comfort grow in the system, as opposed to 2022. He really worked on his game in the off-season. For as good of a player as he is, he made it a point to become even better, not only off the field, but how he trains, how he takes care of his body, things of that nature. He’s been awesome. He looks awesome. He’s playing great. He’s on an unbelievable historic tear right now and it’s a testament to him, who he is as a person, to how serious he is about perfecting his craft and making the most of his opportunities.
Q. We’ve seen how successful you are with the QB sneak, and for you guys to be successful with the sweep there to RB D’Andre Swift, how much more of an issue does that create for the opposing teams? (Josh Tolentino)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, you always want to protect your plays, and the quarterback sneak play has been a huge part of what we’ve done here. You always try to find unique ways to create conflict for the defense and add little wrinkles that make your main plays better. We’ve had that kind of greased up for a couple weeks and we finally got the right opportunity to get it called. It was good to see it get executed.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni kind of mentioned Senior Offensive Assistant Marcus Brady helps with those wrinkles. He’s the one responsible for sort of cultivating stuff from other games, college. How is that collaboration process, and when you get a wrinkle like that, and somebody brings it to you, is that a multi-week thing that you’re trying to install to potentially use? (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, for sure. There’s a bunch of cool play ideas that we see and that may be in a particular game plan, and they just never come up to get them called in the right situation. So, that’s something that for us in terms of research and development, okay, what are some unique ways people are doing things, how can we implement it, if it will help us at all, but you do, you get a chance to see throughout the course of a season a couple of those ideas get brought into the fold and you’re able to hit them for huge plays.
It becomes kind of contagious throughout the staff. I can’t tell you just over the summer, people not even on our staff have seen people run crazy trick quarterback sneak plays and send them to your phone and stuff. You get a big bank of ideas of guys doing stuff. I think some of that news travels fast. Any time that we feel like we have something that can make us better, we always try to get that implemented.
Q. What’s the most unusual way you’ve gotten a play? (Dave Zangaro)
BRIAN JOHNSON: The most unusual way? That’s a great question. You see some stuff — social media is really sometimes like a gift and a curse, right. You get some really cool ideas, and you get to see some highlight plays, just that’s kind of the world we live in. So, you see a lot of really cool ideas on just a ten-second clip of a play.
And then it forces you just to go do some more research of you try to go find that play in the game and then just really dissect it and then you start pulling how many times they run this. The technology that we have now to be able to see a clip on the Internet and be able to pull from it and go find multiple examples of it and really dissect and call and learn about the play is something that makes the job fun.
Q. What did you see wrong when you watched the film on the fumbled snap on the QB sneak play? (EJ Smith)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Just a detail error we have to continue to clean up.
For us, obviously that was a huge momentum swing on a play that we have a lot of confidence in and a lot of trust in. Obviously, that can’t happen, and it was really, really disappointing to not finish that drive with a touchdown. Happened twice, actually. Fumbled in the red zone twice. We have to continue to clean that up and be on the details on that play.
Q. G/C Cam Jurgens is eligible to come back this week. What have you seen from him behind the scenes as he has rehabbed and tried to stay up to speed? (Olivia Reiner)
BRIAN JOHNSON: He’s worked extremely hard in his rehab process. You see him in the training room and weight room working, and I know he’s really, really eager to return. He was playing at a really good level for us before he got hurt. Excited to see him make that progress and hopefully we’ll see where it goes from there. But he’s a really, really good player and we’ll be happy to have him back.