Brian Johnson

Q. How ready do you feel for the whole play-calling piece of this and how much are you looking forward to that? (Reuben Frank)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I’m excited to finally get started and play an opponent with our guys. So far, we’ve had a good week of preparation, but these first games are always very important. Always very important. So, really looking forward to getting off to a good start.

 Q. What about the fact that the first game is against the Patriots and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and everything that they bring to the table? (Chris McPherson)

BRIAN JOHNSON: We’re playing arguably the greatest coach of all time. They have a fantastic roster with great pieces, so it’ll definitely be a challenge and we’re looking forward to that challenge. I know our guys are excited to go out there and be ready to play.

Q. Do you find that you have to temper yourself a little bit? Obviously, everybody in this profession has tremendous respect for Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, but do you have to be cognizant of putting that aside? (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: The bottom line is you always want to always have a high level of competitiveness. You want to go out there and compete regardless of who the opponent is. I think that’s the mindset you should have going into any game, regardless of who you’re playing. But obviously, it’s always an exciting time whenever you get the chance to play against great players. I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge.

 Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni has been outspoken in the past two years about how the pass game is always really WR A.J. Brown, WR DeVonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert. Throughout the course of the game, will you be cognizant of the party distribution of who’s getting what catches and what-not?  (Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think you need to always have a feel of how teams are playing you. I think adaptability is important and how quickly we can find out how we’re being attacked offensively and what we can do to counterpunch and be ready to make our adjustments as needed. Fortunately, we have some really good players that can all do really, really special things with the ball in their hands. We’ve just got to find ways to get it to them when we have the chance to do that.

 Q. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is famous for being able to take away a team’s best weapon and devising a game plan specifically to that. Have you guys had that conversation… you have a lot of guys that they could choose. Have you had that conversation this week? Do you think there is going to be one guy they’re going to focus on? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Well, who knows. These first games are always tricky. There’s not a lot to go on in terms of – each team, or each year, presents its own different challenges. Each team is different. So, I think teams are really using this first week to really kind of find out their identity and what they have in terms of matchups, but for us, we just have to be ready to adapt.

I think these first games in particular are really about how fast you can get to your adjustments, you can get to your answers and give your guys an opportunity to go out there and do what they do best.

Q. What has it been like for you seeing QB Jalen Hurts’ star-rise to where he’s become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, given that you’ve known him since he was four years old? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Obviously it’s a very exciting time for him. I’m sure he’s ready to get into a routine of playing games and getting into his weekly routine throughout the course of the season.

It is nice that he’s been able to consistently perform, consistently get better at his craft. His mindset has not changed in terms of how he attacks every single day, the purpose that he has, the passion that he plays with, and his desire for becoming the best player he can possibly be.

Q. In what ways have you seen the team sort of take on his personality, if it has? (Tim McManus)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think he mentioned this the other day. We have so many great leaders on this team. Jalen is obviously one of those leaders. I think any time you have guys who are your best players set that type of example in terms of their work ethic, their habits of how they conduct themselves, how they get themselves ready to play on a consistent basis, I think it permeates throughout the entire organization and the team.

To me, it’s been no surprise to see him kind of evolve into this because you see the daily deposits that he puts in, every single day, to be the best that he can be.

Q. When it comes to the running back rotation, do you have an idea of how that’s going to go or are you trying to see what it looks like? (Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, for sure. We obviously talk about that. [Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs] Coach [Jemal] Singleton does a great job of getting all those guys the reps they need to be ready to go out there and perform.

But it is a little bit of feel, as well. I talked about adaptability, and just trying to create different matchups. A little bit of it depends on the flow of the game, but we’re confident in all of those guys that they can go out there and help us.

Q. Have RB DeAndre Swift and RB Rashaad Penny shown you something this summer maybe you didn’t know about them or didn’t expect? (Martin Frank)

BRIAN JOHNSON: We really like both of those players. They’ve done a fantastic job of coming in, getting acclimated to the system and how we do things. They’ve provided energy and a great spark to that room along with [RB] Kenny [Gainwell] and [RB] Boston [Scott].

We feel really, really confident in their abilities and what they bring to the table.

Q. The unpredictability on defense that we talked about week one, does that change the amount you want to change the script the beginning of the game on offense? (Bo Wulf)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Not necessarily. I think it’s just how quickly can you identify what’s going on because every team in the NFL is going to have new wrinkles week one and stuff that they’ve been working on that they haven’t shown. We just have to be ready and trust our roles, trust our assignments and be ready to execute at a high level.

Q. In terms of the new hand-off rule, where you can only give a hand-off parallel or behind the quarterback, how much did it affect what you did last year as opposed to this year? What challenges, if any, does it provide? (Chris Franklin)

BRIAN JOHNSON: It hasn’t really changed much for us at all.

Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni was talking about that adaptability earlier this week, he specifically mentioned QB Jalen Hurts and C Jason Kelce, about being sort of a luxury because they can handle things, live fire. Is that a luxury for you as the play-caller to know that those guys, if they see something that maybe… (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. Jason Kelce has played so much football and he’s seen so much defense. So that definitely is a luxury in terms of being able to handle un-scouted looks. You’re going to get a bunch of un-scouted looks in week one. Guys have been working on week one for a really long time. There’s a lot of things we have to be ready for that probably aren’t on tape.

But, I think that just goes to having the trust in the system, trust in your players to go out there and execute with great details and fundamentals.

Q. We saw last year, talking about surprise game plan, you guys got blitzed a lot. A lot of those blitzes, the line wasn’t prepared for, and QB Jalen Hurts had to scramble a lot. How did he progress? Also, the offensive line and being able to diagnose blitzes and how to pick them after last year? (Jeff McLane)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I think it just goes back to being able to trust your rules and trust your eyes and what you’re seeing, then just really diagnosing how you’re getting played defensively.

So much of that is done in the week leading up to the game, but there’s always going to be new wrinkles, new adjustments that show up on game day that you have to be prepared for and you have to be able to show that you can handle and that you have answers for.

Q. Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai talked to us about Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia. Have you leaned on him as well?  (Jimmy Kempski)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, we turn over every stone, whatever we can do to try to get ourselves ready to play. Having Matt here, he’s been awesome. He’s had so many different roles throughout his career. It almost feels like everybody in the organization can kind of pick his brain in terms of whatever their specific role may be because he’s probably done it.

Any time that you have peers that you can learn from and learn from their experiences, I think is really, really important. I think it’s really, really helpful when you have a setup like that.

Q. What is your view on game scripts and scripting the first X amount of plays? (Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: I always go back to it being kind of part science in terms of there are certain things that you want to get looked at early. At the end of the day, I think it’s always going to come down to how fast you can adapt and adjust and diagnose what’s going on in terms of calling the game.

We put in a lot of work in terms of trying to get the players in the best position possible to execute what they do well. That opening script is definitely part of that.

Q. Once you diagnose what the defense is trying to do to you on the sideline, who’s collaborating on that? (Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: That’s the entire staff. I mean, we’re all collaborating with each other, with our position groups, and with the players. I think that the players in that regard are sometimes our greatest resource in terms of what they’re seeing on the field.

You come back and you get the iPad, you can look through the pictures and stuff, but still, sometimes there is a difference in looking at that and then it happening in real time.

It takes great communication, it takes a great operation to be able to be on the same page with the staff, with the players, so you can get problems answered and corrected in-game.

Q. When it comes to rotational positions, so I guess back to running back mainly for you, are you going to let Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach Jemal Singleton handle the rotation as far as that or do you guys come in with a set plan? You said, ‘part feel.’ (John McMullen)

BRIAN JOHNSON: It’s both. I think a lot of it depends on how the game is going, as well, in certain matchups that we want to try to create offensively.

Jemal is an excellent coach, and he has a great feel for his room. I think for us, it’s being able to find that balance of keeping those guys fresh, creating the matchups that we need to create, and riding the hot hand.

I think all three of those things really play a part in that rotation as the game moves along.