Let’s get it back to the Eagles, briefly. It’s Red October but the Birds are 4-0 and play Sunday at home in Los Angeles.

One of the interesting things about the Week 4 win was the A.J. Brown 4th quarter bomb.

Did Jalen Hurts switch the play at the line of scrimmage? –

Jonny Page is a good Twitter follow. He does weekly all-22 threads.

Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was asked about this sequence at his midweek presser and said the following:

Q. On the second touchdown pass to WR A.J. Brown, was that the play QB Jalen Hurts went to the line with? (Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, those guys made a great play. Ultimately, right there you’re trying to get the first down and get into that, but it was a situation where those two guys made a fantastic play and were able to connect for a shot and get in the end zone.

Q. Was that the play he went to the line with, though?(Dave Zangaro)

BRIAN JOHNSON: In terms of? Yeah, it was a pass play to try to get the first down.

Hmm, alright. On the follow up, he says, “yeah, it was a pass play,” but but he doesn’t confirm that it was the actual play that came in from the sidelines. Also, Hurts threw for the end zone, so it was a little bit more than “trying to get a first down.” It was 2nd and 4 at the Washington 28 with 1:43 on the clock and fans and media seemed to think the Eagles might chew some clock there, maybe try to kick the field goal and end the game on that drive. I went back and watched the video of the press conference again and didn’t discern anything particular from his tone or body language.

The reason I find this interesting is because I sense discrepancy in media sessions involving Johnson, Hurts, and Nick Sirianni. After the game, Sirianni gave a word salad/nothing answer about running Kenneth Gainwell on 3rd and 11 in the Red Zone. 24 hours later, he then reversed course and said he told Brian Johnson to run the ball in that situation. Then, when Johnson was asked about it, he gave a very generic answer:

Q.I know Head Coach Nick Sirianni addressed it, but I just want to give you the chance. The third down run to RB Kenny Gainwell, what was the thought process for why that’s the best play in that situation?(Zach Berman)

BRIAN JOHNSON: Just in terms of managing the game, there’s always those situations on those third-and-long field goal range type deals where there’s a couple schools of thought of strategy and how you want to play that scenario and it works out a couple different ways. There’s been times where we’ve done that and it’s hit and you’ve scored, or you’ve gotten yourself in a position to go for it on fourth down. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that time and you have to be accountable for that.

For me in particular, we’ve got to try to continue to do the best job we can to put our guys in a position to have success on an every-play basis.

Dunno. Not much there. There was a lot of fan speculation that Sirianni was just trying to protect Johnson when he claimed responsibility for the 3rd and 11 decision.

Hurts was also asked about the A.J. Brown bomb (directly after the game) and didn’t specify whether he audibled or not:

“On that go-ahead touchdown, what did you see that made you want to go for the end zone in that situation?” 

“You know, some things just happen in those moments, you know, You asked me a question about standing in the pocket last week, it’s a feel thing, in those moments, in those high intensity and pressure moments it comes down to feel. I think winning is finding a way to win and we found a way to win. We just want to continue to find ways to win.”

“It comes down to feel.” – so… he felt like switching the play call? It’s not confirmed there, though the language choice would make that thought plausible.

Ultimately this is not a huge deal because the offense scored 31 points in regulation to improve to 4-0, but it seems like they’re still ironing out some of the offensive and communicative wrinkles in the post-Shane Steichen era. Some of these quotes haven’t exactly matched up or made total sense.


I’ll throw one more quote in here, this is Sirianni postgame:

Q.The touchdown at the end of the game,how do you balance there’s a lot of time remaining, you went deep with A.J., do you have to kind of balance being aggressive there? Was there any thought about maybe running it a little more?(Reporter)

NICK SIRIANNI: The main goal is to score, right? Sometimes it happens where — you know, we ended up getting a big play. We saw a corner that was aggressive. We took an opportunity there and it worked. Jalen and A.J. made a great play.

You go in there and score. What you don’t want is the penalty to give them the extra 15 yards. A.J., obviously, was apologetic about that coming off the field. A lot of emotions in that game. We’ll definitely learn from that. It’ll be a teaching moment from that.

You’ve seen it, a lot of times, that when maybe a team gets too conservative in that area, then they don’t score. Right? And so, we saw an opportunity. Did we think it would go for a touchdown? We didn’t know. I mean, we thought it was an opportunity, right?

And even if you don’t score on a scenario when you’re aggressive, it backs them off for the next play to help you get into where you want to get to. I’m not sure I’m going to apologize for scoring too quick ever unless we can help it. In that particular case, I didn’t think we could. And I thought Brian Johnson did a great job calling it and the players did a great job executing it.

We saw a corner that was aggressive” is the line that stands out. So one of the considerations is that Hurts went to the line with a play call that had a built-in read based on that corner’s alignment. Technically, I guess we would call that a “check” and not an “audible,” since audible suggests the play call is being changed entirely, whereas “check” suggests he’s shifting to a different option within the parameters of the initial call. Make sense?