Brian Johnson

Q. Is there a competition for the number two quarterback job? (Jimmy Kempski)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Just reiterating what [Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] said the other day, we were pleased with [QB] Tanner [McKee]’s development, but [QB] Marcus [Mariota] is our backup.

Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni mentioned you guys got to get more familiar with what QB Marcus Mariota does well. That’s part of it, as well, when he gets him up to speed in the system. Do you see it that way, as well? (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think this entire process of training camp, figuring out how to put certain pieces together, what guys like, what they don’t like, what they do well, what we need to continue to improve, I think that’s all a part of the process of training camp.

It’s exciting when you get guys that have unique skill sets and you come out and you get a chance to try and do some different things and look at some different options of how guys operate and get going.

Q. What has surprised you about QB Tanner McKee? (Bo Wulf)

BRIAN JOHNSON: With Tanner, I think the biggest thing with him is obviously he’s extremely smart. He’s poised. He has a very, very natural feel. The one thing I think in particular with his game is he has really, really clean eyes. He plays with his eyes out in front. He can see stuff. He just has a great feeling and sense of timing and anticipation.

Q. Obviously there are a lot of things the organization liked about him drafting him, but when you looked at the tape, when you’ve seen what he’s done on the field, was there anything that stands out? (Ed Kracz)

BRIAN JOHNSON: From his college tape? Yeah, his college tape I really, really did a deep dive and watched a lot of film on him. Obviously, I knew who he was coming out of high school before he went on his mission. I remember he came to the University of Houston on an unofficial visit.

I knew who Tanner was prior to him becoming the starter at Stanford, and he’s a guy when you watch the tape, it was a really good tape. It was clean. It was decisive. The ball was going where it was supposed to go. You could see he had just a really natural feel and rhythm to his game.

Q. Going back to this time last year, what kind of signs were you seeing out of QB Jalen Hurts that let you know he was just about to put it all together and have kind of a breakout season? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think it goes back to that OTAs prior to the 2022 season of just having a year in the system and understanding — like the conversations that we were having, we had a higher base level than when we were installing it for the first time in ’21. You see similar things now in ’23 than you did compared to 2022.

I think just him continually getting reps and understanding how we’re getting played as an offense, how he’s getting played as a quarterback, and just being able to adjust and get to our answers quickly, I think is something that’s been really good so far.

Q. How would you tie his ascension to the presence of WR A.J. Brown; once he came in, having two bona fide receivers like that? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: AJ is a fantastic player. He’s one of the best in the world at what he does. Anytime that you have a player with his talent level, I think it makes everybody’s job a little bit more manageable for sure.

Q. What was behind your decision to have C/G Cam Jurgens not play in the preseason? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: We take into account all of those things, and between Nick and [Executive Vice President/ General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and [Run Game Coordinator/ Offensive Line] Coach [Jeff Stoutland] Stout, those guys have done a great job of organizing practice in a way and feeling like you get a chance to see some things in those practice settings that relate to what you would get in a game-like scenario.

Q. At running back, Head Coach Nick Sirianni said he wanted to get RB Kenny Gainwell some game action. You saw that. Where do you think you are in that process of figuring out that room? (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: It’s still going. It’s been a very, very healthy competition. All those guys have — like we’ve talked about, have unique skill sets. I think they all provide something that’s a little bit unique to them. But [Assistant Head Coach/ Running Backs] Coach [Jemal] Singleton has done a fantastic job of getting those guys the necessary reps for everybody to see what each guy is capable of, and looking forward to it continuing here throughout the next couple weeks.

Q. With RB Rashaad Penny, is it hard to find a balance when he has that extensive of an injury history, with wanting to sort of protect him versus seeing what he can do? (Bo Wulf)

BRIAN JOHNSON: There’s always a balance, but kudos to our strength and conditioning staff, our nutrition staff and Rashaad himself. He’s done an unbelievable job of getting himself prepared each and every day, getting ready to go. I’m really looking forward to him continuing to be on the rise.

Q. It seems like we’ve seen a lot of back shoulder throws during this camp. What are some of the keys to making those so successful? (Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, without giving away all of it, I think a lot of it’s about timing and feel and having great players. I think [WR] A.J. [Brown], [WR DeVonta Smith] Smitty, all those guys have an unbelievable feel and understand how they’re being played defensively to be able to react to those types of throws, and then the quarterback just trusting what he sees and how firm he should throw the ball or not.

Q. With QB Tanner McKee, you said that he has clean eyes is the way that you described it. Can you just dive into that a little bit more, what that means for a quarterback? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think one of the most important attributes that you could have at that position is obviously your vision and feel, and just being able to diagnose things a little bit — maybe a count before they happen.

So, we talk a lot about that in the quarterback room, of just making sure — like these guys are all so talented and they have so much ability, and the majority of the time if you’re looking at the right stuff, you’re going to play pretty clean for the most part. The decision making of it is going to get to shine because your eyes are in the right place all the time.

Q. What kind of challenges — obviously you guys – one of the defenses you guys struggled against last year was the Colts defense. Looking ahead to joint practice … what are you looking forward to seeing out of your offense? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think the biggest thing for us has obviously been being able to get to our adjustments quickly and diagnose how we’re being played.

One of the things you see in this league is you go through the week of game planning, and in the game sometimes – the other sides game planning, too, so it becomes this chess match of cat and mouse a little bit of diagnosing what their answers are so we can get to our answers.

But overall, I think the thing you like to see is just clean operation and execution and guys playing really, really clean football. To me, that’s a big part of it, as well.

Q. One of the things you said a moment ago was we talked about this in the quarterback’s room. In all your experiences in the past as offensive coordinator, you’ve also been quarterbacks coach, as well. how have you done not being the one giving that message in the quarterbacks room? (Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: For sure, and our dynamic in that room has been pretty much the same, even when I was the quarterback coach and [Former Eagles Offensive Coordinator/ Current Colts Head Coach] Shane [Steichen] was in there, like if they have something to say, then it’s said.

The beauty of that room is it becomes – especially, particularly in year three, it becomes more discussion than lecture, which I think is a sign that guys are understanding the why. You can see the process continue to evolve because guys have had more reps. The system has been in place for a couple of years.

So those meetings and those conversations in that meeting room can be very in depth.

Q. As a follow to that, not to take away from either you or Quarterbacks Coach Alex Tanney, but at some point, does it come down to it being QB Jalen Hurts’ room where it’s like he’s the one who’s in charge? (Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely, and I think it just goes back to that point of that room being more discussion based. Ultimately when you have the clicker and you’re in a meeting room and you’re able to rewind and fast forward and rewind stuff three times, it doesn’t always naturally happen like that on the field. Being able to communicate, for [QB] Jalen [Hurts], being able to communicate what he’s seeing through those eyes in those split-second decisions is something that’s very, very important.

Q. When it comes to evaluating your quarterbacks in a preseason setting, how do you go about it given the fact maybe they’re going up against second and third stringers, maybe the defense isn’t game planning, you’re not trying to tailor the game plan to their specific strengths. How do you get through all of that to figure out what is what when it comes to quarterback evaluation? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think it’s just being very, very clear about what your plan is and what your intent is moving forward, and understanding that the preseason is what it is.

Like you said, there aren’t necessarily specific game plans or stuff that you might not show that you would show in the regular season. It’s definitely a balancing act, but it’s one that happens everywhere, probably at all 32 teams.

Q. Did you see the tape of QB Jalen Hurts catch the other night? (Bo Wulf)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I did see it. I didn’t watch the tape, we saw it live. It was a really good catch. You saw his eyes track the ball. It was good. Looks like he’s been working in [Wide Receivers Coach Aaron Moorehead] A-Mo’s individual.

Q. Going back to QB Tanner McKee, you played that position at a high level yourself. You’ve been around a lot of young quarterbacks. He seems to trust what he sees. Is that rare for somebody who comes into the league as a rookie? (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, he’s played a lot of football, as well. There are a bunch of differences in the pro game to the college game, but at the end of the day there are a lot of similarities, as well.

He’s done a good job of acclimating to our system. And the language of our system, and like I said, we’ve been pleased with his development to this point.