Long-time Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has
passed away, the team announced Tuesday. Johnson, who was battling cancer, was
A veteran of 22 years as an NFL assistant, Johnson is regarded as one of the top
defensive masterminds in National Football League history. Over the last decade,
he gained a great deal of notoriety as the orchestrator of the renowned Eagles
defense. His aggressive style kept Philadelphia at or near the top of the NFL in
nearly every major defensive category since joining Andy Reid’s staff on
January 22, 1999.
From 2000-08, Johnson's units ranked 2nd in the NFL in sacks (390), 3rd down
efficiency (34.0%) and red zone touchdown percentage (43.9%), and fourth in
fewest points allowed (17.7 per game). During his 10-year tenure in
Philadelphia, the Eagles earned seven playoff berths, five trips to the NFC
Championship game and one Super Bowl appearance (following the 2004 season).
As the Eagles defensive chief, Johnson's defense has produced 26 Pro Bowl
selections: Brian Dawkins (7), Troy Vincent (5), Jeremiah Trotter (4), Hugh Douglas (3), Lito Sheppard (2), Asante Samuel (1), Trent Cole (1), Michael Lewis (1), Corey Simon
(1), and Bobby Taylor (1).
Four of his defensive assistants have gone on to successful careers with other
NFL franchises: Steve Spagnuolo (head coach of the St. Louis Rams),
John Harbaugh (head coach of the Baltimore Ravens), Ron Rivera
(defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers) and Leslie Frazier
(defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings).
Prior to his tenure in Philadelphia, Johnson served as the linebackers coach
with Seattle in 1998. That year, Johnson helped the Seahawks register 10
touchdowns on defense, including eight interceptions returned for scores, 2nd
most in NFL history. He arrived in Seattle after a four-year stint in
Indianapolis, the last two as defensive coordinator. While with the Colts,
Johnson helped them secure a berth in the AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh in
Johnson spent eight seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (1986-93). After
overseeing the Cards defensive line for four seasons, Johnson excelled as their
secondary coach, helping Aeneas Williams become the first rookie cornerback to
lead the league in interceptions (6) since 1981.
Johnson began his coaching career as head coach at Missouri Southern (1967-68),
before serving four-year tenures at Drake and Indiana. From 1977-83, Johnson
served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Notre Dame, a stint
that included a national championship in 1977.
An all-conference quarterback himself at Missouri (where he played in the same
backfield with long-time NFL executive Bill Tobin), Johnson went on to spend two
seasons with Buffalo as a tight end (1963-64).
A native of Maywood, IL, Johnson (born 5/26/41) earned a bachelor's degree in
education and a master's degree in physical education from Missouri.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Vicky, two children, Scott and Michelle, and
four grandchildren, Katie, Justin, Brandon, and Jax.
To get caught up on all the latest breaking news
around the NFL along with insider analysis, sign up for
Adam Caplan's Twitter