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October 11, 2017

Brandon Brooks: Lane Johnson a huge loss, but we have the utmost confidence in Big V

Eagles NFL

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We’re trying to string some things together and trying to be one of the most consistent [offensive lines] in the National Football League. Obviously, losing Lane [Johnson] is a big loss, but Big V [Halapoulivaati Vaitai] stepped in and did a heck of a job [in the Eagles’ 34-7 win over Arizona on Sunday]. As I said earlier, we’re trying to string them together and we’re taking pride in running the ball,  protecting and doing whatever to the best of our ability.

We lost someone [Johnson] we’d like to have back. We’re just trying to do our job up front.

  • Each week during the NFL season, Eagles offensive lineman Brandon Brooks will sit down and speak with PhillyVoice contributor Joseph Santoliquito about the previous week’s game, their upcoming matchup and whatever happens to be on his mind. 
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I hope I’m pronouncing Halapoulivaati Vaitai correctly?

I just call him ‘Big V.’

How much was altered, if anything, when Big V came into the game?

Nothing at all. We have confidence in Big V and he got a lot of experience as a rookie. He progressed and got better and better with each game last year. He can play right and left tackle. He does a lot of things well. We have confidence in him. He went out and did his thing and looked good.

When did you find out about Lane?

We went in at halftime and I found out there, like everybody else.

You and Big V played seven games together last year. You know what he’s going to do and he has an idea of what you like to do. How much of an advantage is that working off a short week in preparing for Carolina?

We had some experience playing a lot together last year, and the chemistry is there. We just have to put together come Thursday. We have a lot of confidence in the guy, based off his experience last year.

There is a lot that goes into offensive line play. In term of coordination, it’s about working well as a unit. What goes into that coordination?

Repetition, doing the same things over and over, the exact same way. Stout [Eagles’ offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] prides himself in that. We pride ourselves in that. No matter who goes in, who’s down and who has to step up, it’s done exactly the same way. We understand that –especially the backup position – guys are one play from having to step in and play. It’s just the same thing over and over. You never get bored with doing the right thing.

We do the same thing so many times. One quote that Stout says as an O-line we live by, a Bruce Lee quote where he says, ‘Fear not the man who that has 10,000 kicks and practices it one time, fear the man that has one kick and practices it 10,000 times.’ With Stout, we the same thing over and over and never get bored with it.

Pro Football Focus has the Eagles rated as the No. 1 offensive line of the week after the 34-7 win over Arizona with an average of 76.0. The 56 outside zone plays the Eagles have run this season, which ranks third in the NFL and is more than one-third of your run plays. The Eagles’ offensive line has only allowed just one sack all season. You rank third in pass-blocking efficiency with a rating of 85.0. Have you ever given up a sack as an Eagle? I don’t think so.

Honestly, who knows? I try to have a short-term memory about that. I just go out there and protect each and every time. I just try and be consistent.

On the replay of the Zach Ertz touchdown in the first quarter, everyone is penetrating up-field on the Arizona Cardinals. You stick out like a sore thumb because the man you’re blocking hasn’t even gotten off the line of scrimmage. Is there such a thing as blocking angry?

It’s having the attitude and mentality to do your best every play. It’s a blue-collar mentality that we’re blocking with. Yeah, we’re blocking angry, we’re trying to give as much time and trying to open those holes as big as we can get them to give those guys through there.

Carolina plays a 4-3, and you’ll be up against their left side, tackle Star Lotulelei and end Charles Johnson. The Panthers have the third-best defense in the NFL, giving up 274 yards a game. They’re also tied for third in the NFL with 17 sacks, 7½ from Julius Peppers and Shaq Thompson. What do they do well; what will you need to watch for?

You have their linebackers, [Luke] Kuechly and [Thomas] Davis in there. Shaq Thompson is a young who really has wheels. He can play the slot and cover guys. Keuchly is the leader of that defense, calling everything out. Davis is a leader as well, who can also run do a lot of things out of different packages. Julius Peppers is back and having a great season, pass rushing and putting pressure on the quarterback. Kawann Short, guys like that, is playing well. Their front seven plays well.

They have different blitz packages.

Do you think the Eagles are a team that still lacks respect around the league, or a team gaining respect?

I think we’re gaining it, which is a better way to say it. As the season goes on, we’re a team that is extremely resilient and finding different ways to win, no matter what that is. We keep fighting to the end and it’s showing up on Sundays. To a degree, I think we probably lack respect.

I know you’re a Carson Wentz fan. I know you believe in him. Is it starting to reach that point where he’s doing things now that still amaze you?

It’s incredible to watch. You knew the kid was special in Year One in the things he was doing. Year Two, some of the special things now are almost becoming routine and it’s crazy to see that. Him escaping different things, some of the accuracy of his deep balls he has while on the move. It’s incredible to see how quickly he’s picking up different defenses. It’s great to watch.

He’s a franchise QB. He’s done everything to gain the trust of the team and being the leader that he is.

What’s on your mind?

This is a quick turnaround week so I haven’t had time to think about much. We came right back after the game and got the night off and came back Monday and got right back to work. The focus is on the opponent Thursday, the Carolina Panthers. So there’s not that much on my mind right now. It’s more of a mental week because you have to let your body rest, but at the same time, you’re putting game plans in and still have to be prepared for the different things [Carolina] does. You have to be ready for anything. You prepare from a mental standpoint, while physically trying to do everything you can to get your body as rested as you can.

In addition to reading Brandon's comments, each week we'll post audio of the full interview so you'll have a chance to hear to Brandon's words in his own voice.