The worst-kept secret in Philadelphia was unveiled Tuesday when Brian Johnson was elevated to offensive coordinator by the Eagles.
Johnson, the team’s quarterbacks coach for the past two years, replaces Shane Steichen, who left to become the head coach in Indianapolis.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Eagles are promoting their QB coach Brian Johnson to offensive coordinator to replace new Colts’ HC Shane Steichen, per sources. Johnson had multiple opportunities for other OC jobs, but he ultimately stays with the Eagles. pic.twitter.com/C49iquEkfu
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 28, 2023
A long-time friend of the Hurts family, Johnson played high school football for Jalen’s father Averion, and later recruited the younger Hurts twice when he was coaching at Mississippi State and Florida.
As Hurts’ position coach over the past two seasons, Johnson was part of an ecosystem in which Hurts developed from rookie backup to Pro Bowl alternate and finally MVP candidate in 2022-23 when Hurts led the Eagles (16-4) to Super Bowl LVII where he had one of the best big games in league history in a losing effort to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Johnson, 36, has received interest from others about becoming an offensive coordinator over the past two seasons and the Eagles risked losing him if the promotion was not offered.
Johnson is also expected to be the play caller in 2023, a role Steihen held when the team took off after an ugly 2-5 start in 2021.
“That will be my intent to – the next offensive coordinator to call the game,” Sirianni said at his season-ending press conference. “I feel like we’ve seen benefits from that. I just feel like my ability to manage the game – I feel like I do a better job managing the game when I don’t have – and some guys do it and they do a great job of it. And I’m highly impressed by that.
“For me, what works is this. And I’ll continue doing it that way. That’s the plan.”
A former star quarterback at the college level with the University of Utah where he once led the Utes to a 13-0 record in 2008, Johnson went undrafted the next year and quickly surmised coaching was his future.
He began at his alma mater and also impressed at Mississippi State, Houston, and Florida, the latter his last stop before arriving in Philadelphia. He has experience calling plays at his last three jobs as a college coach.
Sirianni lauded Johnson for his hand in the development of Hurts over the past two seasons.
“It starts with the relationships that we have with the players and Brian stepped right in here and had a great relationship with our quarterback dating back to when our quarterback was, however old he was, two years old,” said Sirianni. “So, the relationship means a lot. And the trust was automatically there. Sometimes you have to develop the trust. A lot of times you have to develop the trust, but that was there.
“… Brian’s great with, not just Jalen, with everybody. He can adapt and just be able to connect with anybody on our roster. And that’s offensively and defensively. And that’s one thing that I think Brian’s special at. And then we’re not even talking about the football knowledge that he has. And so Brian’s excellent with Jalen as far as his development of fundamentals. I think you’ve heard me say this plenty of times.”
The Eagles’ search to replace defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who took the head coaching job in Arizona, remains ongoing with finalist Sean Desai visiting the NovaCare Complex on Monday. Secondary coach Dennard Wilson is the other candidate believed to be a finalist and Sirianni has noted he prefers to promote in-house.