December 27, 2017
This week, Brandon Brooks is joined by fellow first-time Pro-Bowler Lane Johnson. The pair reflects on the Eagles’ rather ugly 19-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night and on what the future possibly holds.
The Eagles are 13-2, NFC East champions and have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, yet when I look around Philadelphia, no one seems to be happy.
LJ: [Monday night] wasn’t pretty by any means. We ended up getting the job done. The defense pulled us out of multiple holes. It is a team effort. Not all wins are going to be pretty, but we bounced back correctly as a unit and ended up getting the job done.
BB: The defense really pulled us through. We obviously didn’t pull our weight [against the Raiders]. We’ll make the corrections and go back to what we do and go from there.
Was it anything Oakland did that messed with the timing of the offense?
LJ: I don’t think it was that. We didn’t establish a rhythm. A lot of our scheme is built on rhythm and getting things started. Stuff kills drives. Other than that, we had our moments. It just wasn’t as consistent as previous games.
BB: It’s exactly what Lane said. The key word is consistency. We had flashes, we did some good things, but for whatever reasons, things weren’t completed.
Moving forward what needs to be cleaned up on offense?
BB: I would probably say the crispness. It was pretty sloppy. It was a sloppy game overall. Up front, we need to pass games off better, knowing the calls and listening to [center Jason] Kelce and getting back to what we’re doing.
LJ: The penalties. I had my fair share, whether you agree with them or not. Stuff like that will cost you. We just need to get back to fundamentals, get our bodies rested up for this playoff stretch, for however long it may be. You have to get back to fundamentals. Over the year, you kind of get away from fundamentals, which is everything in the game.
Lane are you calmer then you were on Monday night?
LJ: I wouldn’t say that I’m completely calm. I’m still a little on edge.
I don’t know if either of you have seen a replay of the Oakland game, but Lane, there was one holding call where Jon Gruden himself said he didn’t know about that call.
LJ: It’s unfortunate. I spoke my piece on it. I had to give my two cents what I thought about it. I’m moving forward. You have to take those things out of the game in playoffs and it makes things go a lot smoother.
Let’s focus on the positive and what it says about the different ways you guys are winning?
BB: It says no matter what it takes, we’re not looking for perfect wins. We’re just looking for wins regardless. Some weeks it may be us pulling the extra weight, some weeks the defense, some weeks maybe special teams unit. We all have our separate phases. The biggest thing is we’re here for ‘Ws’ no matter what it takes.
LJ: Just how rough the game was, as far as turnovers. I never saw anything like [Monday night]. Us giving the ball away, us taking it away, some key situations when we needed big plays, big plays were made and then finish the game off with a field goal. It wasn’t pretty. Everybody expects us to beat people by 20 and 30 points, which is hard to do and unheard of in the NFL. We’ll take it with a grain of salt. A win is a win. We just have to get ready for the playoffs.
Are you guys ready for a rest? I don’t how much you guys will be playing against Dallas?
BB: We’ll find out soon, probably Wednesday [how much the starters will play].Or if we’re going to play and what the situation is and go from there. We’ll focus like any other game week, trying to go 1-0. Obviously, we have everything we want in the bag. But none the less, it would be good to go 1-0, too.
LJ: I would say the same thing. We’ll know coming up the next few days. You have to keep the main thing the main thing, and try and do your best for these games. It’s been a great season so far. Guys going down, people having to step up, we just keep rolling with it.
In my opinion, there’s too much at risk here. I don’t think you guys will see the third quarter. The two of you are the foundation of the offensive line and at this stage of the season, the Eagles can ill afford to lose either of you two. You can only lose so many stars to advance in this league.
BB: Like you said, as far as we’re concerned, rest would be good, but if coach wants us out there, we get it as well. Realistically, as long as [quarterback Nick] Foles is out there, we’ll be out there, for however long that is. Going off that, rest would be good, but the week after, we’ll practice a little bit, but we’ll get some rest as well.
LJ: I think we’re at a point now in the season where it’s crunch time and guys are going to do whatever is necessary to go out and get a win. We out in so much time and effort ever since we reported to training camp back in July. A lot of work has been put into this season and we have to put our focus into winning this next game.
Will there be some scouting and self-reflection these next two weeks?
BB: I think it will be a mixture of both. You have the playoffs and we’ll need to look at who we’ll be playing during the bye week.
Lane, is that big-ass scrape doing that I saw on your right chin Monday night?
LJ: It’s still a big-ass scrape [laughs]. I don’t know who did it. It looks like a cat clawed me up. I don’t what’s going on. I guess I’ll have to go out and kick a couple of trash cans. We’ll see.
What’s the best stuff you guys got for Christmas?
BB: For me, locking up home-field advantage. We’re two playoff games away from winning it all.
LJ: I got a cool dartboard and fishing pole. I guess that was pretty cool [laughs]. I have a four-year-old son and a daughter who’s going to be two in February. I got my girl a little bike, a little tricycle and a little Jeep. She’s going through driver’s ed right now [laughs]. She keeps hitting the refrigerator cabinets. I had to give her little feet some driving lessons. She’s better now. Jace, my son, will probably be taller than me.
BB: I can’t wait for that [laughs].
What’s on your mind?
BB: What’s on my mind is to congratulate Chris Long. He’s been an awesome teammate this year, an awesome person. Obviously, you see what he’s done off the field, donating his salary. He’s just a great guy, a great leader. He gets us fired up on Sundays. He really brings a pass rush off that edge, getting sacks all of the time. Chris has been a great dude to play with. He’s probably among the top five teammates I’ve played with throughout my career, other than you, Lane, of course.
LJ: [Long] is one of those guys you like to go have a coffee with in the morning and he’s full of funny stuff. That guy is a character. He definitely needs a podcast one day so people can see his character and how colorful his personality is. There [aren't] many guys like him.
BB: People are getting a little taste of him on Twitter. Some of the stuff he says back to people talks about what it’s like being a player and going through it and living it. I saw Howie [Hall of Famer Howie Long, Chris’s dad] when we were out in LA. I think he’s bigger than Chris.
This will be the first trip to the Pro Bowl for each of you, right? Lane, you deserved to be first-team Pro Bowl. I think the two of you are the best right guard-right tackle combination in the NFL right now. I don’t Khalil Mack had a sack or tackle Monday night, did he?
LJ: He had a few tackles, but I tried to make sure he didn’t have a sack.
BB: I don’t think Lane gets enough credit. When it comes to the NFL, obviously when “The Blind Side” movie came out, people think of the left tackle as the best athlete. Sometimes that is true. Hands-down, Lane should have been First-Team. I definitely see that as a snub, because he’s definitely one of the best tackles.
LJ: Or as Brandon said, “Better luck next year” [they both laugh].
Did Mack say anything to you after the game?
LJ: We started laughing at each other, because early in the game, as soon as I go to every play, he was getting in the ref’s ear, “He’s holding, he’s holding.” I said some pretty humorous stuff to him during the game. I respect him. He’s a competitor. Guys like that make you play hard. I told him to stop talking to the refs, I wasn’t holding.
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 Brandon (and Lane) in their own voice.