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Brian Johnson says the Eagles have to be committed to the run game

The Eagles OC talked about their need to commit to the run game, and how coaching Jalen Hurts when to scramble isn’t exactly black and white.

The Eagles offense fell back into bad habits against the 49ers and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson spoke to reporters on Tuesday about their need to commit to the run game, why he has confidence in both D’Andre Swift and Kenny Gainwell, as well as Jalen Hurts’ time in the pocket and how he goes about extending plays.

Here’s what the OC had to say:

On committing more to the run game

“It always starts with being able to run the ball efficiently and effectively. We’ve got to continue to do a better job at that.

Part of it, too, is just finding that balance of patience, you know what I’m saying? Of just being able to continue to hammer attempts and try to get the guys in a good rhythm and a good flow.”

Johnson also noted that it’s a balancing act in certain situations, when you’re down two scores and need to move the ball quickly, but also try to hammer some attempts in the run game.

The OC later talked about how D’Andre Swift might only have seven yards on four carries, but then break one out for 30 yards and all of a sudden that average of 37 yards on five carries looks a lot different.

“We have to just continue to pound at it until one of those explosives pop. I think for us that’s something that we have to be really committed to.”

On Kenny Gainwell

“I think Kenny is very, very versatile in his ability to make plays in the passing game, obviously, but also in protection. He’s extremely stout. He does a great job being able to pick up different defensive blitzes and protect in the pass game. I think his versatility is something that’s really, really unique.”

Johnson also said that Gainwell has improved a lot over the years in pass protection, and has had a few plays this season that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but that allowed them to convert in some really important moments.

On D’Andre Swift

“D’Andre is a very versatile back as well. He has a ton of ability. He’s having a fantastic year. I can’t say enough good things about his overall game and how he approaches it each and every week, willing and ready when his number is called. And he’s made a bunch of plays for us throughout the course of the year in various ways. Whether it’s in the run game, in the pass game, jet sweeps, protection, he’s been able to do a lot for us.”

On utilizing zone reads

Johnson disagreed that they hadn’t done much with zone reads, saying that’s part of their offensive plan and it’s something they’ll continue to use.

“I think each team is just really independent on how they defend it. I wouldn’t say it’s been an overarching theme in terms of how teams are playing us in the run game. I think it varies from week to week.”

On Jalen Hurts’ time in the pocket

“I would assess that the offensive line did a fantastic job in pass protection all evening. Against an excellent front. I can’t give Lane Johnson enough credit to how he performed in that game on Sunday night blocking one of the best players in the league in Nick Bosa. It was really a sight to see when you go back and watch that film in terms of how those guys protected all night long. They did an excellent job.”

Johnson talked about the second sack and how it was a play breakdown, but on a play they’ve had success with in the past resulting in a deep ball to DeVonta Smith. Still, the OC admitted that there needs to be an understanding of when to extend the play or to just move on to the next play, because they never want to take negative yards if they don’t have to.

He noted that it’s not always so black and white with Jalen Hurts’ ability to escape the pocket and make something work on the fly.

“You’ve seen Jalen make play after play after play being able to extend and create, and that is definitely a part of his game, and that’s a part of his game that we welcome, and that’s what makes him who he is as a player in terms of being able to use this really unique skill set that he has, that very few people have, and create explosive plays for us offensively.

So, I think there’s always some grade to that, right? It’s our job to just continue to detail that out and coach it up.”

Other notables

  • Johnson said that overall they aren’t seeing defenses play them any differently without Dallas Goedert on the field. A few times he pointed to A.J. Brown being double teamed, but otherwise, opponents still have to watch the outside.
  • The OC doesn’t study how the Cowboys play at home versus on the road, but knows they are a very talented team and there’s a lot at stake in Sunday’s divisional game.
  • He also talked about his time coaching Dak Prescott at Mississippi State, calling the QB someone he’s extremely close to — not just him, but that whole QB room — and has a ton of respect for.

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