Philadelphia Eagles News

Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson

On using CB Joselio Hanson at nickel corner:"He's always been a good cover guy, as far as inside. We just felt that we've had some injuries and we wanted to go to a dime package where we wanted to get (CB) Sheldon (Brown) inside and (CB) Lito (Sheppard) outside. We started with Hanson at the nickel and it kind of carried over into our dime package. That's kind of why we went to that."

On how the cornerback system has been working: "Good. I'm happy with the way Sheldon's playing in the dime and Hanson does a good job in the slot, for the most part. It was tough duty last week against (Bengal's WR) T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) and he needs to have some help every once in a while, but he, overall, does a good job."

On what he has seen from rookie QBs Baltimore's Joe Flacco and Atlanta's Matt Ryan: "It's hard to compare them, they're both very good. It's amazing how well they're both playing. It's hard to compare those guys. I think they've both got very strong arms; I'm impressed with both of their arms. I'm impressed with the way they see things. Both of them are not making very many mental mistakes, especially the last two or three weeks with Flacco out there throwing the ball on time. They're two young, fine quarterbacks and I'm not sure which is really playing better right now. They're both playing very well. The thing that complements them is they've both got good running games and the thing about it, with that, is they're both managing the game. They're not getting themselves into trouble. They're not asked to win the game, just to manage the game and they're both doing a good job."

On whether rookie quarterbacks are having more success because college defenses are becoming more complex: "Yeah and the offenses are much better, as far as throwing the football. In college, they're throwing the ball better and, of course, you're seeing more of the pro defenses and the blitz schemes and stuff like that. They've seen some of that stuff in college. I just see some spread offenses in college with guys getting a chance to throw the ball so much, sometimes 40 or 50 times a game in college."

On the cornerback rotation and whether he tries to keep the players' roles clearly defined: "Yeah, it was hard to train both of those guys at the nickel and we were going to play dime a lot, so Sheldon had to go inside as a dime-backer, like a linebacker-type. We didn't want to, all of the sudden, just because we were going to be in nickel, have to train that guy. So, we decided to go that way and it's worked out pretty well."

On whether he puts more emphasis on stopping the run when he's facing a team with a rookie QB: "I think, right now, we're saying 'Hey, we've got to get this team to third down-and-long.' With that being said, you want to make sure that you stop the running game, which is a good running game. This quarterback is very good—a lot of quarterbacks are when it's third-and-three, third-and-four or third-and-five—and they're doing a good job. That's why they're one of the top teams in the NFL right now on third down conversions. To answer your question, we've got to force them into third-and-long situations and, a lot of times, that means stopping the run."

On Sheldon Brown's roughing the passer penalty at Cincinnati and what he tells players about avoiding penalties: "We don't tell them anything different, we just don't say anything about it. I think they're stupid penalties, but it's hard to stop; it's just going to be a judgment call. You can look at a lot of games, and I look at a lot of games, and I say 'That could have been called either way.' I think it was a great play by Sheldon, a good aggressive hit. We don't say anything, but to play the same way, unless it's really a dumb penalty. I haven't seen any of those from our guys."

On whether it's unfair to tell players to play hard if they might get fined for it: "We never talk about fines. We don't want cheap shots, but we don't talk about fines and I don't think we've been close to a fine. The thing I've always said is, 'You can't worry about roughing the passer unless you're way out of line.' We want them leaving their feet and we want them getting after it. We never even talk about fines, as far as roughing the passer. I told them not to worry about roughing the passer."

On whether he's seen anything different in DE Trent Cole that he's gotten three sacks in the last two games:"Same as always. You're going to have those games, you know, up and down. Depending on the blocking scheme, you're going to have a little bit more single, like last week. It goes back and forth. He's always going to give you great effort, it's just a matter of whether the back chips on him; the Giants chipped on him quite a bit. Some teams are going to do it and some teams aren't."

On whether DE Juqua Parker's success has helped Cole:"Yeah and (DE) Chris Clemons' and those other guys."

On whether there's anything he can do to get more interceptions: "We drill quite a bit, it's amazing. We drill turnovers. Just like last week, (CB) Asante (Samuel) could have had two. Here's a guy who has great hands, he's got great break on the ball and he had two chances, or maybe almost three, for interceptions. All we can do is emphasize it. We work on a lot of drills, we talk about it in practice and we practice it in practice with our team getting hands on the balls. That's all you can do."

On there being a lot of movement in the defense before the snap and whether that is a problem: "I don't think so, as long as we're in good position to make the play. The thing I can see our corners making, and the thing I'm disappointed in a little bit, is we don't have many linebacker interceptions or tipped balls, or stuff like that. That's what I would like to see more of. But, guys are breaking on the ball, knocking balls down, we're just not quite getting interceptions. I wish I had the answer for that, but I don't."

On whether Baltimore TE Todd Heap is one of the best tight ends in the NFL:"He's probably one of the most steady tight ends we'll face, as far as a route runner and getting open and things like that; plus his size. He's an excellent tight end. To put him in a (Dallas TE Jason) Witten class, when he was younger, he was probably like a Witten. He's been around a little bit right now, but he's still a very solid tight end. We'll have our hands full again with him."

On whether DE Darren Howard's play this season has made it easier for other players to get pressure:"You like to share the sacks. You don't want to have that one guy. The thing we have right now is it's pretty well distributed between the defensive line. Howard's having a good year. Now, we've got Clemons a little bit more involved and (DEs) J.P. (Juqua Parker), and Trent Cole. You'd like to share them. All of the sudden, if we do bring pressure, we're getting into some of our defensive backs too. That's what you like. I think one of the differences is Darren Howard. I've said it all year, he's doing a great job inside, especially on our nickel and dime packages."

On how Baltimore's running game compares to New York's and Washington's who have given the Eagles some trouble: "Similar in a lot of ways. Good offensive line, they're committed to the run, just like the Giants and the Redskins are committed to the run. If they get minus two, they're still going to come back with the same play. They know exactly what they want to do as far as the types of running plays they want. You usually stop them, but it doesn't shy them away from still running. Once they get ahead of you, they're going to run the football, just like the Giants or the Redskins. That's their same type of philosophy and (head coach) John (Harbaugh) may have brought that a little bit too, I'm not sure.

On whether the players know their roles in stopping the run: "Yeah, sure."

On whether facing a tall quarterback creates problems: "I've never seen this guy (Joe Flacco) in person. I hear he's 6'-6". He's got a gun, we'll see. (Jokingly) We always emphasize getting our hands up, but I'm not sure our hands are long enough, or our arms. He hasn't had many batted balls. Like last week with (Cincinnati QB Ryan) Fitzpatrick, we kind of knocked some balls down, but he hasn't had many batted balls."

On whether he's ever seen a quarterback with an arm like Flacco's: "No, I haven't. He's got a rocket, no question about it. He can stay in the pocket, at 6'-6", and he can throw it."

On Flacco's progress in the league:"Either one of them, him or Ryan, I can't believe how well they're playing. They're both playing so well and they're not making very many mental mistakes. The offensive coordinators are doing a good job of playing to their strengths too, I think."

On how big a challenge Baltimore's running game is:"You have a Pro Bowl running back in (Willis) McGahee and then you have a young kid by the name of (Ray) Rice, who I think is an excellent, excellent running back. He's a breakaway-type guy. He's had some big games and long runs over 20 yards. I know McGahee can too, but they're using Rice in a lot of situations, even in third down, getting the ball to him. To me, he's a completely different runner than those other two guys."

On whether the defensive line has something to prove against a solid offensive line like the Ravens: "All of our guys, I think, every game, they're eager to prove something. You don't think about the Giants or the Redskins right now. All you do is think about the Ravens. They know what their job is and what their goal is and how they're going to have to stop the run. They're up to it."

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