Had the Eagles not lost Steichen, they likely would’ve lost Johnson. The 36-year-old was reportedly “getting a lot of buzz” for offensive coordinator openings around the NFL.
Johnson’s stock was boosted by the massive leap that Jalen Hurts took from Year 2 to Year 3. The Eagles went from having to limit their passing attempts in 2021 to Hurts looking like the Super Bowl MVP by the end of the 2022 season. Hurts obviously deserves a lot of credit for his own improvement but Johnson contributed to the QB’s success. Nick Sirianni talked about this earlier this month.
Q: What impressed you the most about Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson this year? And when you look at Jalen’s growth, how much was his input helpful?
Huge, huge. It starts with the relationships that we have with the players. And Brian stepped right in here and had a great relationship with our quarterback dating back to when our quarterback was, however old he was, two years old.
So the relationship means a lot. And the trust was automatically there. Sometimes you have to develop the trust. A lot of times you have to develop the trust, but that was there.
And then with that, Brian’s great with, not just Jalen, with everybody. He can adapt and just be able to connect with anybody on our roster. And that’s offensively and defensively. And that’s one thing that I think Brian’s special at.
And then we’re not even talking about the football knowledge that he has. And so Brian’s excellent with Jalen as far as his development of fundamentals. I think you’ve heard me say this plenty of times.
Coaches have to have two things. They have to be able to — position coaches, first and foremost, have to be able to get their players better as players. They have to be able to take them a level here to a higher level that they can’t reach without the coaching of that individual.
And that happens through fundamentals and being able to explain the plan, being able to explain the offense to make it easier for that player to understand and to execute.
Brian does a great job of that. And Brian is also very gifted in the sense of helping be able to scheme, even though he wasn’t the offensive coordinator last year, he still helps a great deal with our schemes and the way we’re attacking defenses in the run game, in the pass game, in the protection world, in situationals.
So, yeah, he’s been a great influence, obviously, for Jalen. And Jalen’s done a nice job, obviously. But it’s a good relationship of those two guys because I do believe that’s helped Jalen become a better player.
Johnson’s relationship with Hurts dates back to when the latter was just four years old. Johnson once played high school football under Jalen’s father, Averion Hurts Sr. Johnson tried to recruit Hurts to play at Mississippi State but Alabama was chosen instead.
The Johnson-Hurts dynamic is certainly a nice factor in the equation; one would think they’ll be on the same page. But it is hardly the only reason Johnson was a worthy candidate to be promoted.
Johnson previously had offensive coordinator in his title at Utah (2012-2013), Houston (2017), and Florida (2020). He helped to get good results out of the likes of Dak Prescott and Kyle Trask.
Speaking during limited media availabilities while with the Eagles, Johnson has come off as sharp and composed. It’s not hard to see how teams would be impressed after getting in a room with him.
There’s also something to be said for the continuity aspect here. The Eagles’ offense was so good last season that they’ll want to keep some of their approach in tact. Of course, Johnson will need to have his own ideas and tweaks. But there’s no need for an overhaul.
In the aftermath of Steichen’s departure, Sirianni confirmed that he will NOT be taking over play-calling duties. He will continue to manage the game while Johnson calls the plays that Sirianni contributes to putting on the play sheet.
The feeling here is that the Eagles made the right call with this hire. It might not be long before Johnson follows in Steichen’s steps to become a head coach elsewhere in the league.
Now the next big coaching move is for the Eagles to announce their new defensive coordinator.
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