Q. I was meaning to ask you, you guys have dialed back on the zone read calls this season. What has been the thinking behind that? (Jeff McLane)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, every week we go into the game plan, decide what we want to do and try to put our players in the best position to go out there and execute. Some weeks more than others, that stuff is up. I think it’s just been kind of the nature of the flow of our season.
Q. In what ways have you seen TE Jack Stoll and TE Grant Calcaterra grow from last year to this year? (Chris Franklin)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Just like anything with these guys, the more reps that you get, usually the better you become. Those guys have done a great job with Jack being here his last three years, Grant being here the last two, of just continuing to get reps. I think [Tight Ends] Coach [Jason] Michael does a great job of putting those guys in the necessary positions to highlight what they do well, and those guys have a great mentality of being ready when their number is called.
We were in a very similar situation last season when [TE] Dallas [Goedert] went down after the Washington game, and those guys stepped in and did a nice job.
Q. Along those lines, not having TE Dallas Goedert for that chunk last year, how much has that informed the way you guys are going about that process this year? (Dave Zangaro)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, it’s very similar. It’s very similar in terms of how we get certain guys involved, how we put the guys in a position to be successful on a play-in and play-out basis, and I know the type of competitors that we have in that room, the type of competitors that we have in this building. Everybody is ready when their number is called.
Q. The possibility of getting G/C Cam Jurgens back, how much does that help you guys in the running game? If you look at the first four games, you guys were obviously running a lot better than you have been since then. How much does he mean as far as him coming back and everything? (Martin Frank)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, it’s always great anytime you get guys back and get guys healthy. Cam was doing a fantastic job for us before he got hurt. It’s definitely nice to have him back in the fold.
Q. What have you seen from the Kansas City defense? They seem to have taken a big step forward this season. (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, they do a great job. They’re obviously very well-coached. They have very, very good players. They play violent, and they’re in good spots defensively.
We know that they’re obviously one of the top defenses in the NFL, and our guys will be ready to go on Monday night.
Q. When Head Coach Nick Sirianni was talking about losing TE Dallas Goedert, he said there are other ways to support the offense with personnel and other things. How does WR Julio Jones and the way his blocking reputation in the run game– how does that help support, if it does, and how do you look at that offensively? (Brooks Kubena)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, we have to use everything at our disposal to put our players in the best position possible. However we deploy those resources on any given week is really determined on what we think will be successful throughout the week.
For us, it has to be the next-man mentality, guys being able to step up when their number is called, and I’m confident that everybody we have in this building is ready and willing to do that.
Q. The biggest beneficiary last year when TE Dallas Goedert was down, was WR Quez Watkins. He had 5+ targets per game, he was also the defined No. 3 receiver. Do you have a defined No. 3 receiver this year? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, we have a bunch of guys that can fill into that role. I think [Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] mentioned this earlier, Dallas Goedert is an elite player, and it’s going to take all of us to combine for what we’re missing with Dallas, but everybody I think is eager for an opportunity to pitch in and do what we can in order to put our best foot forward offensively.
Q. Now that you’ve had some time around WR Julio Jones, what’s it been like working with him and seeing how he interacts with the rest of the wide receivers? (E.J. Smith)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Julio has been great. He’s obviously a very, very talented player. He has a ton of experience. He’s seen a lot. I’ve always said that experience is life’s best teacher. He’s definitely a guy that you can tell has played a lot of football and has done a lot of different things, and it’s been no surprise having him here to see that unfold on a day-to-day basis. Can’t say enough good about things about Julio. We’re really excited that he’s here. He’s been doing a great job for us.
Q. What does it say about QB Jalen Hurts that the last three games they’ve kind of taken — he hasn’t had his legs and had a lot of success running the ball, but he’s beaten teams, I think 75 percent the last three games, eight TDs, one pick. He’s beaten teams that way without having to beat them with his legs, too. (Bob Brookover)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, I think that’s just who Jalen is. We constantly talk about how do we evolve, how do we get better, and Jalen just has that mindset to be the best version that he can be. Talks a lot about preparing for each and every opportunity, and each circumstance can be different. But that’s why I’ve always considered Jalen a triple threat of being able to beat teams with his arm, with his legs and his mind. He’s a guy that obviously we have a ton of confidence in, and he’s been playing well the last couple weeks.
Q. QB Jalen Hurts agreed with the premise yesterday that the reason he’s been more efficient passing the ball the last month or so was because of just getting more comfortable with you being the play caller. How has that manifested itself over this time period here? (Jeff McLane)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think as we evolve, I guess, what are we nine games in, of just getting a great feel for what this team does well and how do we deploy the resources necessary to maximize everybody in the offense. By no means are we a finished product or do we expect to be a finished product. At week 9, it’s about just constant growth, the constant ability to evolve offensively and continue to have that growth mindset.
Q. As you had the chance to slow things down during the bye, what’s stood out to you about play calling, what’d you like, what’d you not like? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, obviously when you have these bye weeks and you get a chance, this is something that we do generally after every single game is obviously you go through and you kind of assess things you liked, things you didn’t, and that’s no different in the bye week other than you have a little bit more time to take a deeper dive. That’s something that I think the last three years that we’ve been here has continued to kind of just put yourself through every situation and continued to grow and evolve on things you can do better, things that you’re doing well and need to continue to stack upon.
So that weekly process is something for us that happens every week, but you get a chance to go a little bit more in depth throughout the course of a bye week, obviously.
Q. When you assess your role as a play caller, could you see growth from week 1 through week 9? (Dave Zangaro)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, I think you get a little bit more comfortable just like the players. The more you do things and understanding just the different ebbs and flows of — and the different variables that come up throughout the course of the game. But for sure, anytime you do something, the more you do something, obviously the better you get at it.
Q. Was there kind of a defining lesson so far? (Brooks Kubena)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think the biggest thing is each game is so independent, and then you look at each game and you get so involved in terms of what do we need to do in order to win this particular game.
We talk a lot about this with the players of treating each play independently. I think it’s no different in terms of each game as a coach. You’re going to have to deploy different resources and use different strategies to win a particular game.
I think you see that show up each and every week of earlier in the season there were times where we had to run it a lot to win, and earlier in the season there were times where we threw it a lot. Just how we deploy our resources I think is really important.
Q. What was it like going through the Super Bowl tape with QB Jalen Hurts? (Tim McManus)
BRIAN JOHNSON: That is a great question. Every time you’ve seen that game over and over and over again, you put it into the context of getting ready for this week, but I think everybody carries different scars with them from that game. I think that the reality of it is you’re not going to get that game back. So, the question is how you respond, how you move forward. But I think everybody kind of internalizes that differently. Some people will use it as motivation. Some people won’t. But for me personally, there are obviously scars from getting to that point and not being able to finish the deal that will last a lifetime, I’m sure.
I think that is well within reason to have those type of feelings but understanding at the same time that that game really has no merit, other than watching the tape, on this game. It’s two completely different situations.
Q. Do you remember what you thought of QB Jalen Hurts that night as you walked off the field? He played an incredible game that night. (Bob Brookover)
BRIAN JOHNSON: He did. He played really, really well. There’s obviously a bunch of feelings you have when you get on that stage and not be able to come away with a win. There is an array of emotions that goes through your mind, and some are good, some are bad, but luckily, we’re at a point now where we can try to move forward and get ready to go Monday night.
Q. Right before the start of the season, QB Jalen Hurts said that he was being given more freedom at the line to make plays, call plays, whatever. How has that played out here, and what exactly, how much more have you guys given him in terms of making – (Jeff McLane)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, well, Jalen has a great feel and instincts. In the type of offense that we have, there are always options and things that you can get to versus certain defensive looks, and I think Jalen has just continued to get more comfortable with how teams choose to defend him on a weekly basis, and those things are always up and available to have that type of ownership.
I think as you continue to grow as a player, that stuff becomes a little bit easier to navigate. Obviously, Jalen being in his third year starting, he’s starting to get to the point where he’s seen things multiple times in a row now, and he’s started to build that memory bank, which is very descriptive of situations and plays that come up throughout the course of the game that we can always lean back on to continue to move forward.
Q. The road games this year have been mixed crowds, a lot of Eagles fans. Kansas City has a reputation for being loud. What do you do to prepare for a silent count or make sure there’s no communication issues? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, we just have to have a lot of urgency in our operation and communication. I think that’s really no different than any other week, but obviously I’ve never played in Arrowhead, but anytime you have to deal with crowd noise, communication is obviously the most vital part. That’s verbal and nonverbal. We have to be able to all be on the same page, communicate through the noise, and operate at a high level.
Q. QB Jalen Hurts said he was able to get a lot of the time off in the bye week in terms of recovery. Having been around him in the building and getting back on the practice field yesterday, how evident was that in the way that he was operating? (Olivia Reiner)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, it was great for everybody. You could see the energy and the enthusiasm and the excitement to be back in the building and be preparing for an opponent. I thought the bye week came at a great time.
Q. You talked about the evolution of the offense. There are certain guys, Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores early in the season, you’ll have New York Giants Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale later. Blitz beaters, how much has that evolved in this particular offense? (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, we always want to have answers for whatever the defense presents. Sometimes those answers are different checks and whatnot, and sometimes those answers are built into certain plays. Depending on the style of defense that we’re playing, that can vary from week to week.