Eagles OC Brian Johnson plans to call plays from the sideline

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 29: Philadelphia Eagles coach Brian Johnson looks on during the NFC Championship Game between the San Fransisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 29, 2023 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The first big debate of the 2023 season has been answered. Brian Johnson will call the offensive plays from the Philadelphia Eagles’ sideline as opposed to up in the booth. It worked for his predecessor Shane Steichen so no reason to switch things up.

Johnson, who was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in the offseason, likes seeing the expressions on his players’ faces. It is a better way to gauge the temperature of the room. And the quarterback’s mind in the huddle.

“I’ve done it both ways, and I don’t know that one way is necessarily better than the other,” Johnson said. “But I think just for having the ability to communicate face to face with guys in that environment, I think it provides a little bit of added impact.”

It doesn’t hurt that Johnson has known Jalen Hurts for almost 20 years or ever since the quarterback was in pre-school. Their fathers knew each other; they share a special bond and connection that hopefully adds a new connected wrinkle to the offense.

“At the end of the day he’s the one who is back there so we put in plays but the players have to go execute it,” Johnson said. “I think the main reasons they can execute at a high level is if they have confidence in what we’re doing, and I think we just have to get to that point where everybody’s on the same page and he’s calling it as I’m calling it. And we’re seeing it exactly the same.”

Eagles OC Brian Johnson: Press Conference Takeaways

Brian Johnson discussed a variety of topics ahead of Eagles’ practice at training camp on August 8. The team will head down to Baltimore in a few days to take on the Ravens in their preseason opener. It will mark Johnson’s first game as the new lead play-caller and don’t expect him to go easy on Jalen Hurts just because of their close relationship.

Hurts has welcomed hard coaching throughout his career, so no one batted an eye when Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni dressed him down last week following his first interception of camp. Predictably, Hurts fell to the ground and did pushups as penance.

“The standard is the standard,” Johnson said, “and I think that Nick does a tremendous job of praising you when the standard is met and correcting you when the standard is not met. Jalen’s been around hard coaching his entire life so that’s nothing new to him and I think one thing that is very, very important is to understand and realize is that sometimes it’s just about the message and what was the message [we] were trying to get across in that instance. Those guys have a great relationship and it obviously helps your team when one of your best players is eager to be coached hard, and I think that just sets an unbelievable standard for the entire organization.”

Eagles OC Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson on Limiting the Hard Hits on Jalen Hurts: “Jalen’s always had a great feel for avoiding contact and being able to get himself down in certain situations. I think just as he continues to grow and develop as a player it’s really important that he uses everything that he has in his toolbox to make sure that he’s playing as well as he can.”

Brian Johnson on His Approach to Play-calling as Eagles offensive coordinator: “There’s no question about it to me it’s part art, part science. I think the best guys I’ve been around have that feel. And, like you said, a lot of it is done during the week but I think the biggest thing is being ready to adjust and understand what the potential problems are, so understanding your strengths and your stresses in each different call. And how defenses can try to attack you, so you got to have your counter-punches ready to go.”

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and teammates warm up during practice at the NFL football teams training facility in Philadelphia, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Brian Johnson on What He’s Telling Jalen Hurts over the Microphone: “It varies from time to time in terms of, and I think that’s part of the art of it, of are you giving the player too much information? Or are you giving them just enough of what they need to know to execute their assignment? It varies. It varies on play-call, it varies on the game, it varies on the week. And I think having that balance and understanding that … and that just goes back to our core values of connecting. And I don’t think you would know that unless you’re truly connected with someone.”

One more fun nugget from Johnson. When asked if any Eagles defensive players were lobbying to get into a game on offense, the coach mentioned Darius Slay and Fletcher Cox then reminded everyone that Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter played some fullback at Georgia.

“There’s always some chances of some creativity,” Johnson said.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire