What allowed Gardner-Johnson to fit in so fast with Eagles


Chauncey Gardner-Johnson first wore an Eagles jersey on Aug. 31.

It took a little longer to really become an Eagle. 

Once he did, there was no looking back.

“I think every building that you go to is different,” Jonathan Gannon said. “The dynamics are different (for) the 32 teams. When he came here there was a little bit of a feeling out process of how do meetings go, how do we install things, what does practice look like, what's the communication like between player to player, coach to player, coach to coach?

“I think once he went through that feeling out process, I think ultimately he probably let his guard down a little bit and said, ‘You know what? Great, I can be who I am here as long as this, this, and this happens, and I'll be respected if I'm accountable and disciplined and I care about my teammates.’”

Gardner-Johnson’s new teammates embraced him the minute he got here and helped him learn the defense but just as importantly helped him understand the culture that Nick Sirianni has built.

It’s all about the team here. You’re encouraged to be yourself and let your personality show, but you also have to put your ego aside and play for the guys next to you, not yourself.

C.J.G.J. didn’t hesitate to embrace all of it.

“Ultimately, it was a good job by Howie (Roseman) to make sure that was vetted when he came in here,” Gannon said. “We said he probably talks a little bit more than some other guys and he dances a little bit more than some other guys on the practice field, but this guy loves ball, he loves to prepare and he loves to play.

“Bring him in. He wants to wear his hair a certain way and dress a certain way and act a certain way? That’s cool. Does he love ball? Yeah. Love him. Bring him in. That's what he did.”

Gardner-Johnson has been an incredible acquisition.

Despite arriving just 12 days before opening day and switching from slot corner to safety, he’s fit in both on the field and off the field. His three interceptions are tied for 3rd-most in the NFL, and on Sunday, in the Eagles’ national TV win over the Cowboys, he became the first Eagles safety with two INTs in a game since another former Saint, Malcolm Jenkins, vs. the Giants in 2016.

“I am blessed to be (here),” he said. “I cannot say (I'm) too comfortable, because once you get comfortable, you don’t get better. I think every day is a learning process for me. I still left some plays on the field. There is still a lot of stuff out there that I can fix and clean up. 

“But being out there and adjusting to a new position is amazing to go out there and compete with 10 other guys and 52 other guys who love to win. It is amazing to me right now.”

Gardner-Johnson is part of a new-look Eagles secondary that’s got the lowest opposing QB passer rating in football and is allowing quarterbacks to complete 56.8 percent of their passes after allowing a league-worst 69.7 percent a year ago.

What’s amazing is that he’s only been an Eagle for seven weeks. He’s only scratched the surface of what’s possible.

“He knows he has a long way to go,” Gannon said. “I like where he is at and he's made some plays for us, but he knows, as Jalen would say, he's leaving money on the table, too. As all our guys, as I am.

“That's what you're continually trying to improve. It's not result-oriented, it's process-oriented. So, hey, Chauncey, what do you need to do in the week to clean this up? 

“When you love ball, you continually want to improve your game. That's what he does. I still think his … best ball is ahead of us.”

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