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November 01, 2017

Brandon Brooks: Ajayi trade shows players Eagles' front office is all-in

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We’re joined this week by a special guest, Lane Johnson, so we have the complete right side of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line. This took place a few hours after the announcement that the Eagles acquired running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick. Here's what Johnson and Brooks thought about the acquisition and more.

  • 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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  • Follow Brooks on Twitter: @bbrooks_79
  • Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Lane Johnson: This is fresh news and we’re excited. Ajayi should be here either [Wednesday] or [Tuesday night].

Brandon Brooks: We’re super excited. I watched him and played against him the past few years. He’s a physical running back who runs for those extra yards, similar to LeGarrette [Blount] in that aspect.

LJ: He has great vision.

BB: He does, and I’m happy to have him on the squad. I know he’s going to do big things. [By acquiring Ajayi] I think it says to the [to players on the Eagles] we’re trying to get this s--- down. We’re not in a rebuilding phase or waiting a year or two. We’re going to get it now. Kudos to the management for going out and getting great players to make the team what it is, and what it has been. You have players going out and making plays.

LJ: I think they’re putting us in a really good position and we have everything in front of us. It’s just another piece of the puzzle. We have guys who can bring a change of pace. We have Corey [Clement], who is a good back as well and we just added another to the stable.

What was learned against San Francisco? They gave you a lot of delayed blitzes, they gave you a lot of different looks. What did you see that was different against San Francisco this past week?

BB: Some of their blitzes and stunts we hadn’t seen on film. We went and made adjustments on the sideline. Give [San Francisco] credit. Even though they were 0-7, 0-8, their defense is pretty good. They work well together. Their front seven runs around, different things we hadn’t seen on film. But we went in, made adjustments on the sideline and went in at halftime and got it rolling from there.

Lane, you started slow, but adjusted. 

LJ: It was really an adjustment period. They came out with some stuff off to the left and it took us some time to adjust. We weren’t as precise as we usually are. Moving forward, I think we’ll be confident getting some of that stuff fixed.

What do you feel was the pivotal moment in the game?

LJ: Alshon [Jeffery’s 53-yard, third-quarter touchdown catch that gave the Eagles a 27-7 lead].

BB: Yeah, I’d agree with that. That was the spark for us, and we got rolling from there.

I saw the both of you after that game. Neither of you were pleased despite a 33-10 win. Why?

BB: Well, first, winning a game in the NFL is hard. I’m always happy with a win, but it’s also the way you win. It wasn’t from an offensive standpoint what we usually do. It was sluggish and slow early on, and we were going up and down the field here and there and we weren’t finishing at times. It wasn’t the offensive show, at least early on, that we had wanted.

Lane, you seemed particularly angry afterwards.

LJ: We just know what we’re capable of and we had some good days and executed really well. Just not being consistent like we wanted to do was the biggest factor. It was little stuff, so moving forward we’re going to practice it, drill it and get ready for the [Denver] Broncos.  

BB: I think that’s the sign of a good team. It wasn’t the way we expected to win it. At this point, every week in and week out, certain things we’re expecting going into the week. We’re always thinking about getting a ‘W,’ but we’re always thinking, do we need to work on this, how do we do this better? Although we won the game, it wasn’t how we wanted to [win it]. That upset us the most.

What makes you two work well? Being with the two of you, I think you two should have a reality show.

LJ: We should. There would be a lot of dumb stuff said.

BB: But it would be entertaining and keep you on the edge of your seat.

LJ: You don’t know what’s going to happen next and I’m not sure we do either.

This comes from a little bias, but I think the two of you are playing at an All-Pro level. I don’t think the Eagles would be 7-1 if the two of you weren’t playing as well as you are. It seems the two of you jelled instantaneously when Brandon came along.

BB: I think we both have similar personalities, and I think that meshes well. We’re both goofy dudes and enjoy just going out there and messing around with the guys. We take the game serious, but at the same time, we don’t take it too serious. We try to stay loose.

LJ: There has to be balance, definitely, there has to be a balance. 

BB: Lane is like a brother to me. A year and a half [together], man. Off the field we hang together, we’re together a lot. 

LJ: The trials and tribulations [have helped the relationship]. I’ve had more trials and tribulations than [Brandon] has had. But he’s had some, too, and we talk about stuff. It’s being real.

I know, Lane, you had Brandon’s back when he was going through the anxiety last year, and I know Brandon you had Lane’s back when he was going through his stuff.

BB: When Lane was going through his stuff, I was there for support. We texted all of the time. I hope Lane you don’t mind me telling this, but he sent me a text when he was getting ready to come back [after last year’s 10-game suspension] and it was “Major Payne” [Johnson laughs]. He texted me something like it was eight whole weeks since I blocked me a man. He kept it light, joking back and forth. He was ready to come back. He kept him in the loop as far as what was going on, so when he came back he didn’t miss a beat. As soon as he came, I was joking with him, laughing with him, back to how it was. When I was going through what I was going through, Lane had been through similar things and saw it.

LJ: I went through some things in college, and there are guys on the team that have it, so it’s just among our teammates and that’s what makes us a really good team.

So Lane, you had anxiety issues in the past yourself.

LJ: Yeah [in college], making the transition from only having a certain amount of weeks or months to get used to playing my first year starting in college, learning a whole new position. I think it was good. Anxiety can be a driving force. But if it’s too much, it can be counterproductive. Once you get it managed, it can do a whole lot of good for you.

MORE EAGLES COVERAGE: Report: Broncos bench QB Trevor Siemian, will start Brock Osweiler vs. Eagles | The Bills (sort of) steal 'process' slogan from Sixers | Eagles vs. Broncos: Five matchups to watch | Why Jay Ajayi cost so little – and why those red flags don't seem to worry Eagles | Eagles second quarter report cards: Offense edition

Let's move on to Denver and Von Miller. What kind of problems does Denver pose?

BB: You obviously have Von Miller over the edge, Derek Wolfe inside and [linebacker] Shane Ray, different guys like that. Brandon Marshall is another linebacker and their front seven is good. They’re physical guys, strong guys, they run different games and stunts. 

LJ: On the backend, they play a lot of man coverage, and let their guys up front do their jobs.

What is it about Miller? What problems will he pose, especially for you Lane?

LJ: He’s a quick-twitch [muscle] guy, who can convert from speed to power quicker than anybody in the league. He’s very good at reading pressure and knowing when to close and when to pull. He’s very good with his hands. I don’t think anyone is an athlete on his level. When you watch the tape, he’s consistent. He’s going around shifts and he’s spinning inside, too, stuff that you don’t see every day. He’s probably the most gifted player that we’ll see all year.

What’s on your mind, both of you?

BB: I started watching the new TV show “Mindhunter” on Netflix. It starts in the ’70s. It starts as a hostage negotiator who is teaching class but really wants to learn more about the criminal mind. Back in the day, it was basically cause-and-effect. You look at, say somebody gets murdered and stabbed a bunch of times, you might you look at some type of affair, or some type of reason behind it. Then it started to get to a point where people started to murder for no reason at all. The guy goes around and gathers information. He breaks into the criminal psychology.

LJ: I can’t wait to get into the cold tub. Right now, I’m hurting.

Let me ask you both this, is it a fight to not look at the big picture with so many things going well right now and the social media the way it is today?

BB: Not at all. I think we realize that we’re at the midway point of the season. There’s so much football left and so many more games to be played. Our first goal is to win the NFC East. We took care of business as far as the Redskins, and we have the Giants one more time and we have Dallas twice. We still have a lot to accomplish.

LJ: We have a lot of work still ahead and we take it a day at a time. We keep our focus on what we can control and let everything else take care of itself.

Has anyone reached out to Jason Peters? Has anyone stayed in touch with him?

BB: Actually, after the game on Sunday me and Dillon Gordon headed out and kicked over his house a little bit. We sat back and ate some pizza and watched the Sunday night game. He’s doing well. He had his surgery already. He’s good.

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.