Philadelphia Eagles News

Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson

On whether he thinks the Eagles' defense is closer to the unit that gave up 9 total points vs. the Rams and Steelers or 34 points vs. the Cowboys: "Let's hope we're the unit that gave up the first kinds of points. I think we are. I've said before, it's still early in the season and Dallas is a good offensive team down there, but I think we're the team that's been playing just like last week; aggressive and not giving up big plays. That's the team we want to be, no question about it."

On what type of identity this defense has: "One game's not going to make a season. I thought we started out, with the Rams, we were aggressive; I thought we were getting after the quarterback. We had a little letdown, and then last week we were aggressive again. The biggest thing, I've said this before, is our coverage was so good. Our coverage was excellent last week; it allowed us to do some things, blitz wise, and it kind of goes hand in hand."

On whether he would use the game film vs. Pittsburgh to show people if he had to choose one game from his career: "I think it might be one of those. I think, over the years, you kind of forget games four or five years ago. I can never remember the Arizona Cardinals one time. The first half of the first time we played here was unbelievable. We had turnovers too. You forget, but I think it was an aggressive defense. It was a good coverage defense and it had a lot of people flying around the football. But yeah, it would be one of them."

On whether this group of linebackers is the best run-stopping group he's ever had: "I think so. I think our tackles, all four of them, have done a great job, as far as stopping the run when they're in there. But, also the linebackers; they're flying around, they're making tackles. A good defensive team doesn't miss many tackles. It seems, right now, although we missed a couple sacks with Big Ben (Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger) last week, we're tackling well. I think that's a sign of a good defensive team."

On whether CB Asante Samuel has caught up after missing some of training camp with a hamstring injury: "I think he's still learning. I think, if you ask him, he's still learning things. He's a natural corner, he's a good cover guy and he's got a great feel for the game as far as breaking on balls, and stuff like that. He's still learning a little bit, and I think he'll tell you that. We have a lot of confidence in his cover ability, no question about it."

On whether his interception vs. Pittsburgh was a result of his natural ability: "That's natural ability, but the thing about it is he's in position. He's one of those guys who might get a few short passes on him, but he's always in pretty good position."

On whether Chicago's 97-yard drive vs. the Eagles in 2007 is a good tool to remind players to always stay aggressive: "Yeah, it's one of those things that you'd like to forget, but you have to remember. You can play a whole game and, all of the sudden, it can come down to the last drive. We had some mental lapses there; you could correct them and still maintain our aggressive play. Just like last week, when (Tamps Bay QB Brian) Griese did to the Bears the same thing; people do that once in a while. You always need to play in a two-minute situation, you can't play passive. You try to call things so you're not passive. You've got to be aggressive. Hopefully, if that comes up again, we'll be even more aggressive."

On whether the loss to Dallas was a result of not staying aggressive: "You want to be aggressive, without being dumb. It's like anything else, once you have a blitz or a pressure defense, or whatever, and all of the sudden you give up a big play on that, you become non-aggressive. You have to have confidence in your players and your scheme that those guys can cover. They might get one play on us, but we're not going to pull back. There's that happy medium. If you hurt a team offensively, the same way that other teams are coming after us, if you hurt a team with a big play, they kind of lay back. You better say 'hey, it happens once, we're not going to lay back.' That's what we try to say: 'hey, they might get one, but we're going to keep coming after them.' It comes back to coverage too, no question about it. We've got good cover corners."

On what he's seen in Bears QB Kyle Orton on the film: "I've seen a smart quarterback that has managed the game. I see a strong arm. He's made a lot of big plays this year. I think everybody knows, this team could be easily a 3-0 team and it's because of him. He's made some big plays when they're in trouble, on third down. He's got a real strong arm, he's a good quarterback. I've been impressed with him so far."

On how proud he was of FS Brian Dawkins' play vs. Pittsburgh: "I was proud of the whole team, the defense, but I was happy for Dawk. I never doubted that he was still going to be a playmaker. It was a good game for him to get back on track. I was happy for him, no question about it."

On whether DE Darren Howard is playing better than he's ever seen: "Yeah, no question about it. I said it earlier in the season, he's lighter, he's right around the 250-255 range, he's quicker and giving great effort. He's playing solid football for us, whether at end or tackle."

On what causes a good run defense to have poor games sometimes: "Big plays, guys out of gaps. I've said this a hundred times: 'Guys, if you're not disciplined in your gap control, you can take a great defensive team - and I've met some teams that all of the sudden they get out of there gaps - and you get a big play against you and that's what ruins your run defense, more than anything else.'"

On whether this team is equipped to keep big plays from happening: "We're playing good, disciplined football. They're experienced, our tackles are experienced, our defensive line. We've got some young linebackers, but the biggest thing is that front four staying in their gaps and making sure they know exactly what their responsibilities are. It comes down to that a lot of times."

On whether he saw some things in his defense against the Steelers that he hadn't noticed before: "I don't think so, I really don't. I thought, after the Rams game, that we were aggressive; I thought we covered well. Things happened against the Cowboys, that's a good team the Cowboys, no question. I don't want to keep going back to that, I'm not going to let that happen again. I think this is the kind of defense we thought we were going to be. I thought we had some good field rushers, I thought we had some good cover guys, so I'm not too surprised."

On Chicago RB Matt Forté: "He's a good downhill runner. He's a good back. The thing you like about this guy is he's very versatile, he can block, he stays in on nickel defense, he's got good hands, he catches the ball, and he's one of the top receivers that they have right now. He's a good all-purpose back, pretty good for a rookie. I'm impressed with him."

On whether he's come to expect to prepare for a different quarterback every time the Eagles play the Bears: "We don't go against Chicago very often. We've gone against them the last couple of years, but we're not in that division, we don't play them a lot. I can see, out of respect to all the quarterbacks, but I can see why they went with this guy because he's 6-4, he stands in that pocket and he's got some toughness. I think he sees things with that size and he throws the ball downfield. He went against some good defensive teams, especially Carolina and Tampa Bay, and stayed in that pocket and made some key throws."

On whether it was a major adjustment for Asante Samuel to go from New England's defense to Philadelphia's: "I think you'd have to ask him. I'm not sure. I think anytime that somebody's been in a specific program for so many years and all of the sudden you say 'okay, we're going to do this,' it's an adjustment. I think, with Asante, what we've done a little bit is just let him do some of his stuff that's made him such a good football player. It's not like a rookie where you say 'do this, do this.' The biggest thing for him is just learning the defense and proper leverage and alignment and where his help is. That's what you have to learn, but we're still going to let him be Asante too."

On whether he was surprised by the number of football analysts who said Samuel wouldn't work in Philadelphia's system: "I've never heard that before. Is that right?"

On whether the three cornerback system has worked as he had envisioned over the first three games: "That's how I envisioned it. I felt that certain games you're going to see them a lot more, certain games you might not; it depends on how that game goes. Sometimes, I would like to get (CB) Lito (Sheppard) in there a lot more even. He's playing a lot on nickel and first and second down when they have three wide receivers. So far, I'm sure Lito would like to play more, which you expect. I'm pretty happy with it."

On whether Sheppard has been productive when on the field: "Yeah, sure. He's covering well."

On letting Asante Samuel keep some of his own playing style, and what he's done to adjust to Samuel: "The thing about Asante is he's been such a playmaker as far as his ball skills, he's probably a very unique guy right there. I think he's still adjusting to certain techniques we want a little bit, but we're not going to say 'we're going to start all over with him too. This is what you're used to playing, this is how you play your certain techniques.' I think you have to do that just a little bit, but not entirely."

On whether the plan is to eventually get Samuel to play a certain way: "We'll see how it goes. We'll see how he plays. He's playing well. He knows he's still working on certain things and I think, sometimes, it's just knowing where his help is, but he's playing good so we're not going to touch it right now."

On whether LB Stewart Bradley is ahead of the curve in his development: "Yeah, I think he's done a good job. He's a smart young man, plus the fact that he's tackling well and he's running well. He's handled it pretty well. I think, he doesn't panic. It seems like he's enjoying himself too."

On S Quintin Mikell's play and whether it's allowed him to do more on defense: "I think, when we started out the year, we knew what we were going to do with Q. I don't think it's changed or anything like that. We knew he was a guy that could play down in the box in an eight-man front, we knew he could play in two-deep; it gives me confidence calling either coverage. When you have a safety that can do that, it makes it a lot nicer."

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