October 18, 2022   5 MIN READ

‘Stuff You Can’t Teach’

Q&A: Gardner-Johnson's Innate Talents On Display


Despite being the last undefeated team in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles enter their bye week with improvements to make.

On the latest episode of “Q&A” on Inside The Birds, former Eagles Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell recapped Sunday night’s victory over the Dallas Cowboys and discussed the state of the team.

CJ Gardner Johnson

CJ Gardner-Johnson’s two interceptions spearheaded a stellar defensive effort against the Cowboys.

Run Game

Mikell: “I have yet to see for an entire four quarters this run game get stopped. When you’re able to just pull that out of a hat at any point in a game and be able to execute the way that they did, be able to slow the game down and get some chunk yardage, it just makes a huge different. I do think that this is the team’s best weapon right now.”

Avant: “I think that it’s a fail-safe. I think it’s what they do best, but I think their best weapon is A.J. Brown because he’s the matchup that makes the difference, especially in games that are tight against teams that are not going to allow you to run the ball the way you want to. I think as the year goes on, it’ll be harder to run the ball as effectively as we’re doing it.”

Scoring Offense

Avant: “We can be a 28-to-30-plus (points) averaging team, we just go to sleep for quarters. Why is that? I don’t know. I think the team is battling with themselves in those moments and learning how to close out games and close out teams. Eventually, as the season goes on, there are going to be some teams that fight back and now you’re dealing with momentum and a rowdy crowd in the last minutes of the game and it’s harder. We have to figure out ways to stop being penalized in those minutes, to stop going three-and-out. We’re notorious for not getting in the red zone, we have to figure that part out.”

Mikell: “It’s the same thing with the defense. The tackling gets sloppy, even the special teams get sloppy towards the end of games.”

Avant: “I just think we have a young team that’s having a lot of fun, and they’re having a lot of fun because they like being around each other, but you have to learn how to be a professional, too. And there’s some veterans on this team that know how to do it, but at the same time you want to stay loose. I just think the entire team, coaches too, are learning how to win.”


Avant: “The Eagles fall in love with the RPO…Part of the reason you can stall as an offense is when you play the game the way the Eagles are playing the game with intermediate routes, RPOs, and running the football, there’s a lot third downs and you have to play perfect football. You can’t have negative plays, you have to sustain these long drives. If you get chunk plays, you don’t have to be perfect if you can get 40 yards, you just get four first downs. You have to be able to take those shots down the field and those are haymakers for teams.”


Mikell: “My favorite part, especially watching the All-22 tape, was seeing how intelligent the players are becoming, how they’re working together. They’re showing one thing, moving down to a different coverage, I saw some bracket coverages where they were playing very smart. That last interception (C.J.) Gardner-Johnson had where he scooped it off of the ground was a thing of beauty.”

Avant: “The secondary are MVPs of the game, especially when you’re not getting the pressure that you are accustomed to getting. They played the team as if the receivers couldn’t run and they were jumping routes.”

CJ Gardner Johnson

Mikell: “I like what he’s been doing. He’s definitely more comfortable in space. He still has a little bit to learn at that safety position, but with two picks, flying around the field, for a player that can make the plays that he did in the open field, can make plays on the ball, that’s stuff that you can’t really teach. The stuff in the box, that’s stuff that you can coach. The stuff that he’s able to naturally is stuff that is not coached. The good part is he’s going to learn from those mistakes and learn from those missed tackles. It was a steal getting him.”

Avant: “I’ve been very critical of Gardner-Johnson, and it’s not because I don’t like the player, I love the player, especially when he was in New Orleans at the nickel. I had the chance to evaluate him as a receivers coach and rated him as one of the best nickels in the league during that time. I love what Jonathan Gannon has done these last few weeks. They have put him in the post more than the box. That’s the best thing you can do for him because this is a high-volume guy when it comes to missing tackles. He’s not familiar with these tackle angles from that depth at safety. He’s more productive and we see him around the ball.”

– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com

Listen to the latest “Q&A” podcast featuring former Eagles standouts Quintin Mikell and Jason Avant:

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