Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson's media session with reporters on Wednesday, December 26, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
1. It’s not hard to be focused this week
The Redskins don’t have a chance at the playoffs anymore. The Eagles and Vikings made sure of that on Sunday. Now, the team has one more game to finish the season, an opportunity to exit with heads held high and the chance to knock the Eagles from postseason contention.
That should be all the motivation in the world for players to come out and work hard in their final opportunity of 2018, according to Johnson.
"I think as pros this should be pretty easy for us,” Johnson said. “Me being a 10-year vet, I understand how the league works. Opportunities are very limited. So for us as a team, our motivation should be simple. We’re playing against the defending Super Bowl champs, they’re hot right now, they’re playing great football, that’s motivation one.
“Motivation two, one thing I’ve learned, you don’t want to put bad things on tape because that carries you, this is who you will be next year whether it be on this team or any other team that’s evaluating you and this can ultimately affect your career. My thing is to just lead my example being a veteran guy and understanding how this league works so I mean the motivation for me is easy. I mean it should be for everybody, honestly."
Johnson also spoke about the future, and if he might still pursue the Alliance of American Football if given the opportunity.
"No, my main focus right now is the Philadelphia Eagles. I can’t really tell you what happens I know this league changes every second, so for me it’s just making sure that I do every day keeping the same thought process, same preparation, making sure we do what we need to do today, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday to give us the best opportunity to win on Sunday and then the chips will fall how they may. But I can’t really worry about that until after the game, that’ll kind of speak for itself, you know?"
2. He's been around enough to know the importance of putting out game tape
The other side of playing hard on the final game of the season is knowing that teams, including the Redskins, are watching and determining effort and skill for their offseason evaluations.
Those on the roster bubble and those looking at free agency looming know that this is a last opportunity to make an impression. Johnson tries not to worry about what the implications are.
"I mean I think I’m accustomed to that because that’s the nature of this business,” Johnson said. “I really can’t focus on that because, I mean one team may think you’re doing well, and another team may not think you’re doing that well it’s all about how they feel about their perception. So, I think that’s another situation that’s out of my control. What I can control is at the end of the day how we go out there and make sure I do my part to help the Redskins get a position to win. So, I’m just kind of re-narrowing my focus like I’ve always done and just trying to focus on that."
3. He loved the atmosphere of last Saturday
A month ago, Johnson was working out with high school athletes. Saturday, he was leading the Redskins into a playoff atmosphere at Nissan Stadium.
It was a thrill for him, one he wants to keep chasing.
"It was a great atmosphere, man,” Johnson said. “It was very lively, you felt the tension of the game. You could feel that it felt like a playoff game. I’ve been in playoff games on the sideline, but being in that environment felt real similar I just never actually got to play in that environment until Saturday that was the first time. So, it was a great learning lesson for me and it was an opportunity that I mean we want to be in again. We’ll see what happens on Sunday, but I would love to be in situations like that all over again. That was really cool to be able to play that game in the situation how it went down."
4. He's a harsh critic of himself but has been generally happy with his small body of work
With one game left, Johnson reflected on his two and a half games with the Redskins. Despite pointing some of the deficiencies in his game, he’s still made a big impact on the field and in the locker room.
"I’m probably my worst critic, honestly,” Johnson said. “So, I see a lot more of the things that I could do better, and people tell me I need to stop doing that. But, that’s just by nature who I am. I’ve just got to hold myself very accountable so, I mean if I feel like there’s a problem I just look at myself first and what I could’ve done different. I’ve been happy about the fact that we’ve been able to be in position to win football games, that’s my job first and foremost as a quarterback to give us a chance to win and we’ve been able to do that. Once the season’s over I’ll probably reflect back on everything just to really take it all in to see how this season went, but right now I’m really trying to stay as focused as possible because I feel like that’s very necessary with the magnitude of this game that we’ve got going on Sunday and for me to lead by example, I think that’s my job and my responsibility to make sure I’m doing my part to get this team ready to go."
5. He got over the Titans loss but felt there were many positives from the game
Of the impressive parts of Saturday’s game, the nearly 11 minute touchdown drive sticks out the most. It embodied what this Redskins team had established as its brand of football – a ground-first, sustained drive offense that got first downs when it needed and didn’t turn the ball over.
Johnson reestablished that brand with Adrian Peterson over the last couple of games, and despite his two interceptions near the end of regulation, he’s done a solid job protecting the football.
“I think what happened with that drive we just kept playing, which was the beauty of it,” Johnson said. “We had a false start, we had a good first play then we had a false start then we took a sack and then we got a conversion. We just kind of kept playing the next play and I think that’s kind of what’s important in this game is to treat each situation as its own. You play that play for what it is, and have the ability to move on whether it be good or bad to the next play and then try to execute that one as good as possible and then the next thing you know you’re down there in the red zone scoring touchdowns and then we’re excited. So, I think if we keep that approach up we’ll be able to score more touchdowns. But that drive was good, it was awesome for us to control the clock that way. It really set the tempo for the game and what type of game it will be, it ended up being a great game."