Q. What kind of progress did you see in the passing game, seemed like QB Jalen Hurts was getting the ball down the field well and making some plays vertically that he had not made the first couple games? (Reuben Frank)
BRIAN JOHNSON: You see those guys continue to get better, each and every week, and you know that’s what this thing is about ultimately is continually trying to find ways to improve. We still have a ways to go. By no means are we a finished product in terms of what we want to be. For us that goal is to find that consistency to be able to go out there and do it at a really high level week-in and week-out.
Q. On the fourth and two, the play before that, the third and two, what made you make that call and what did you think about it after the fact? (Jeff McLane)
BRIAN JOHNSON: The biggest thing is sometimes if you’re playing without getting too specific, but if you’re playing in four-down football, sometimes you can try to hit a shot on the third down. I think it’s very similar to that thought process, ten or 15 years ago, second and one, a lot of people second and one sometimes would be like, oh, maybe we can take a shot on second and one.
For us, we have a lot of confidence in all of our players, every play on that list that we can call throughout the course of a game and credit to Tampa Bay. They did a great job of playing defense against us in that set.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni said he was dragging himself through the mud about the red zone. When you went back and you looked back at the red zone, what was your assessment of what could have been better? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Ultimately, it all starts with us as coaches. Our job is to put those guys in the best spots possible each and every play.
But you do leave that game with a feeling of, we left a lot of meat on the bone in terms of points and ultimately that’s what it’s about is us being able to score points. And when you look at it out of the four scoring opportunities to score one touchdown is unacceptable. We know we have to be better. We have to put them in better spots. We have to execute better. And it takes all of us. It takes all of us to go and do that and do it at a really high level week-in and week-out.
But you come back and you watch that tape and you see kind of how some of those series unfolded, really unfortunate that we didn’t finish like we wanted to.
Q. Aside from the quarterback sneaks, we haven’t seen many designed runs from QB Jalen Hurts in the red zone, is that something defenses are doing or by design on your end? (E.J. Smith)
BRIAN JOHNSON: No, nothing that they are doing. Sometimes I think the read takes you to a certain place and there have been some read plays where he’s had to give the ball and not pull it. So, I think each game is its own individual entity and there’s always that cat-and-mouse and kind of the ebbs and flow of how each game unfolds. I think just moving forward, when you start to put plans in and things of that nature, you always just try to give yourself the best opportunity to score six.
Q. Have there been fewer zone read calls for three games compared to what you had with Jalen Hurts? (Jeff McLane)
BRIAN JOHNSON: No, I don’t think so. There have been different reads, probably a different emphasis defensively of how to play some of those reads.
But I think when you talk about the zone read game, there is some gray in some of those reads in terms of how defenses try to play it within their structure.
For something for us, that’s obviously a huge part of what we do and we have to continue to emphasize it and make sure we are utilizing it at the right times.
Q. We saw the wrinkle off the other sneak look. What’s that process like playing off a play that you guys run so well? (Dave Zangaro)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, you’re always trying to find unique ways to complement things that you do and things that you do a bunch. So, any time that we can find these unique ways to complement what we are doing offensively that marries certain formations or that marries certain schemes, you want to try to do that to make sure you are keeping the defense honest and protect your main plays.
That’s what that was about. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, so we have to go back to the drawing board and find something else.
Q. Was it going to work? (Dave Zangaro)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I don’t know. Those are things where you try something new and something created and unfortunately, credit Tampa Bay, they did a great job of defending it.
Q. Talking to TE Dallas Goedert yesterday, he mentioned you guys did see some exotic looks over these first three weeks because of the coordinators. For lack of a better term, he expects that to slow down, more traditional. Do you agree with that? (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Credit to obviously the first three defenses that we played this season, I think, each one of those teams presented a very unique challenge and had great players and great staffs and they put together plans to try to stop what we do well. Credit to our guys for being resilient and finding the way to continue to battle, continue to find a way to have some production and ultimately win those football games.
I think for us, I think the biggest point is that each game is really its own independent entity. Going into each game, teams are going to have specific plans and it’s our job to be able to figure out what that is, be able to adjust to it properly and put our guys in the best position possible to go win.
Q. How do you guys emphasize explosive plays? Those numbers were up quite a bit on Monday. What was the difference? What led to them? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think our guys did a great job of making plays, both down the field and turning some shorter catches into explosive plays.
I think when you have dynamic players like [WR] A.J. [Brown] and [TE] Dallas [Goedert] and Smitty [WR DeVonta Smith] and those guys, there were a couple hitches that AJ called, the corner missed a tackle and he was able to turn two of those into explosive plays. But there were also some plays in the drop back game where we hit a big end cut versus a drop-eight coverage. Some of those things are just a matter of us executing at a high level and getting our guys in position to where they can do things with the ball in their hands and space.
Q. Is the strength of Washington’s defense their front four first round draft choices? (Merrill Reese)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, I think so. Obviously, that front four is as good as anybody in the NFL when you talk about [Commanders DT] Jonathan Allen and [Commanders DT Daron] Payne and [Commanders DE Montez] Sweat and [Commanders DE] Chase Young, all of those guys, they can wreak havoc. I think that’s something that obviously is going to be a huge focal point for us in the game is that matchup.
We have to do a great job of trying to put our guys in the best possible. I know everybody is excited to get going on Sunday.
Q. The Commanders conceded over 160 rushing yards last week, but the first week, they were much stouter against the run, what do you see as the reality of the state of their run defense? Is it somewhere in the middle? (Olivia Reiner)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, I think they have excellent players, particularly inside. The two defensive tackles are guys that can create havoc, that can get knocked back, that create tackles for loss and they also can rush the passer. It is definitely a very, very unique front that has a great skill set, and it will be a challenge for us to go out there and play Sunday. But I know our guys, how competitive they are, and I know everybody is looking forward to that challenge.
Q. We saw WR Olamide Zaccheaus make two big plays on the same drive, how important is it to develop that third receiver, whether it’s him or WR Quez Watkins, just to keep defenses honest in playing A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith? (Ed Kracz)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think it’s very important in terms of that all five skill players can contribute to the offense in a meaningful way. Whether that’s in the run game, the pass game, making big catches, drawing coverage sometimes is a part of that. But if you have all five position players available at your disposal and those guys have the ability to make those types of plays, I think it makes it really hard for you to defend.
Q. Talked to Head Coach Nick Sirianni yesterday about motion. This offense doesn’t use a ton of it. Is there something behind that philosophy? (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think Nick’s mentioned this before, but with motion, for us, when we do use motion, there has to be a specific reason for it. I think that’s just different philosophies in terms of what you see throughout the course of every level of football. Some people motion just to motion. Some people motion to get specific things set for their offense. But for us, I think that’s something that we have kind of done the past three years.
Q. We have seen QB Jalen Hurts make big plays extending them, obviously. Then he stood in the pocket on that touchdown pass. What dictates from your perspective whether he should stay or extend the play? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think the one thing that I’ve always preached to Jalen is that each play is independent. I think once you get to that mindset, especially at the quarterback position is it requires a ton of instinct, a ton of feel to understand what the game needs at that moment. The play that he made on a 34-yard touchdown pass to sit in there and really wait for OZ [WR Olamide Zaccheaus] to clear across was as good of a play that I’ve seen him make here in three years. So, you can see that growth, that development, in terms of how he’s able to utilize different parts of his game to make plays.
Q. Is that a play more in the past he stays in the pocket for? (Zach Berman)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I’ve seen him stay in the pocket before, and you’ve seen plays where he’s gotten out and made explosive plays on the perimeter, and you’ve seen plays like that where he’s gotten out and threw the ball away. So, you’ve kind of gotten all three results from it.
For me, it’s like, we’re looking at him in a vacuum in terms of treating them all independently and not based on the result, of trusting what you see, trusting the process of how you are maneuvering the pocket and being able to have your eyes and feet in concert at all times.
Q. What was it about that play that elevated to that spot in your mind where it’s one of the best he’s made or the best? (Tim McManus)
BRIAN JOHNSON: I think just the throw — because he did get hit at the end of the throw. To be able to throw that ball like that while getting hit, while standing in there and taking the hit, I think that was a really impressive play.
Q. Chris Simms has made a point on the Tush-Push for people to hit Jalen Hurts. Have you heard about that and what are your thoughts on maybe people taking shots at him to try to stop that play in some way? (Howard Eskin)
BRIAN JOHNSON: This whole Tush-Push thing has been a huge controversy, but I really don’t have thoughts on the play or people’s opinions on the play. I think ultimately, the bottom line is we try to put our players in the best position possible, and that play has been an advantage for us. It has been a weapon for us over the course of the last year and a half, and we know it will be a focal point for defenses try to take that away. But in terms of what other people comment on it, has no difference or bearing or effect on how we operate.
Q. Absent the controversy on that play, as a former quarterback, is there something the quarterback can do to make it easier for the offensive lineman to convert and easier for everybody? Do you have to have a feel at that position to convert the sneak? (John McMullen)
BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you look at just in the history of — people have been running quarterback sneak for a really long time, and you just go back throughout the history of the league, a couple come to mind. I remember as a young teenager watching Tom Brady run it against the Ravens on a huge fourth down conversion. I remember at one point of my career the play was called Brady. When we were at Florida, we used to call quarterback sneak Brady because we saw him do it a bunch.
That play has been run for probably as long as the game’s been around. Fortunately for us, we have a great group of guys who can execute it at a high level.