Appreciating Jim Johnson

Posted: July 17th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 49 Comments »

Marion Campbell to Buddy Ryan to Wade Phillips to Jeff Fisher to Bud Carson to Ray Rhodes to Emmitt Thomas to Jim Johnson. Those men coached the Eagles defense from 1977-2008. What an amazing group of coaches.

I think Jim Johnson is the one who fans really cling to. Buddy certainly has his supporters, but the unit peaked the year after he was fired and the lack of postseason success does hurt his legacy in Philly. JJ wasn’t the flamboyant personality, but he put together outstanding defenses for 10 seasons in Philly. He helped the Eagles get to the Super Bowl. He was a great coach.

I wrote about Jim for PE.com.

Here are a few things that didn’t go into that piece.

Maybe the most impressive thing happened from the end of 2000 through late in 2001. If you include the playoffs, the Eagles held opponents to 21 or fewer points in 21 straight games. That is an incredible streak that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. The streak would be even longer if not for some meaningless points in a blowout win over the Browns.

Nine of the teams in that streak scored 10 or fewer points. It wasn’t like the Eagles gave up 17 or 20 each week. They really shut people down. The Eagles finished 2nd in the league in scoring defense in 2001. Only the Bears were ahead of them, by 5 points.

*****

Johnson ran the defense for 17 playoff games. The Eagles gave up 17.4 points a game in those contests. In eight of the games, the Eagles held opponents to 14 or fewer points. JJ’s defense usually gave the Eagles a good chance to win.

*****

I previously wrote a piece on the best games he coached.

It really is mind-blowing that the 2005 team held LaDainian Tomlinson to 7 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Eagles had a brilliant gameplan of playing LT outside-in and they executed it really well. DEs set the edge on some runs. LBs and DBs sold out to come up field quickly on other plays. That funneled LT to the middle. Jeremiah Trotter played a great game. He picked off a pass, had a sack and was terrific against the run.

*****

It drove me crazy that JJ never got a shutout. The Eagles came close a few times, but it wasn’t until Bill Davis in 2014 that the Eagles got a shutout in the 21st century. That’s just crazy.

*****

JJ’s influence is still all over the NFL. Ron Rivera is the head coach in Carolina. Sean McDermott is the new coach in Buffalo. John Harbaugh spent a year under JJ and has won a Super Bowl with the Ravens. Steve Spagnuolo got to be a head coach, but is now back running the Giants D. Leslie Frazier was a head coach in Minnesota and is now working with McDermott in Buffalo.

That’s a pretty impressive group of coaches.

We talk about the Andy Reid coaching tree, but JJ has to get some of the credit for that group as well.

_


  • Guy Media

    “That’s a pretty impressive group of coaches.”

    Agreed, except for soft / imbecilic McDermott.

    • laeagle

      This is nonsense and you know it.

      There was a game where he had Cole working every spot on the line, against (ironically enough) Carolina. It was a masterpiece of misdirection, and Cole ate well that day.

      McDermott had his limitations as a coach, and that’s why he lost his job here. But he’s obviously learned from them, which makes sense, since he’s still pretty young. You can try to drop him into that “Barner Hole”, as you do with people, but it won’t stick in this case. He’s a decent coach at worst. You need to get a grip.

      • Guy Media

        No, no, and no.

        https://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2011/1/17/1939986/some-eagles-players-wanted-sean-mcdermott-gone

        30 year worst red zone D as coach here. And carrying Ron Rivera’s golf clubs and implementing Rivera’s scheme with some excellent draft picks from 2 GMs doesn’t make McDermott a decent coach at all. He’s permanently stained himself with what occurred here in 2009 and 2010.

        • laeagle

          No, no, and no.

          It’s fun when you do this with players. Sort of. Coaches have a longer lifespan, so they will inevitably prove this sort of analysis wrong. By “analysis”, I mean predictable bitching and moaning, of course.

          I don’t think anyone considers McDermott to be the next Belicheck. But he’s certainly not the next Rich Kotite. I think you need to maybe distribute your bile a bit more judiciously.

        • Tom33

          Man – that’s tough. I wasn’t a huge fan of McD, but a young guy following a legend (after he essentially died on the job) is a tough situation for anyone. It’s not like the guys that came after him were able to accomplish anything either – this was the beginning of the end of the Andy Reid era here.

          Who knows if he learned and improved, or if he really was riding Rivera’s coattails? It will be interesting to see what he can do as a HC in Buffalo.

    • Sb2bowl

      McDermott was put in a tough situation, and Reid did the best thing that he could by letting him go; getting picked up by Rivera saved his career.

  • Guy Media

    This was a great read. JJ was really great for such a long period of time. I particularity liked how he was able to really make a group of 11 guys work in consort even though a lot of those guys, Trotter comes to mind first, had some real physical/mental limitations on their games. I’d love to watch / read some stuff from Dawk on JJ.

    • Dude

      That would make a great article. Dawk and JJ: This Eagles Life. Make it happen, Tommy!

      • Guy Media

        The ability of Dawk to make an entire stadium lose it’s collective mind at once was really special. The only guy I’ve seen that could do that more than Dawk in Philly was Iverson.

    • Dave

      Trotter would have been a liability in most defensive schemes at the time. He was big, slow, had bad knees and couldn’t cover. When was the last time you saw a MLB crash the line and destroy the center the way Trotter did on a weekly basis?

      You always here coaches preach that they will develop a scheme around their players’ skillset. JJ actually did that.

      • Guy Media

        Yeah, Trotter used in that way was really good. Trotter getting stuck having to diagnose left huge cutback lanes for 30 yard Tiki Barber runs.

  • Dude

    JJ was the man. He ran such a brilliant blitz scheme. You never knew where the pressure was coming from, but you knew that the closer they got to the end zone, the more blitzes you’d see. It was just so exciting to watch.

    Also, Zeke is working on another suspension. Time’s yours.

    • P_P_K

      I should give two upvotes. One for JJ’s greatness and one for Zeke’s suspension.

      • daveH

        give two upvotes. One for JJ’s greatness and one for Zeke’s suspension.
        ..
        Agree. Hope this helps

        • P_P_K

          daveH, my brother.

  • Ryan Rambo

    TMZ Sports reports a witness saw Ezekiel Elliott punch a man at a Dallas-area bar Sunday night.
    A video shows the victim laying on the ground after the incident, but there is no video of the actual altercation. The victim suffered a broken nose. Despite a witness identifying Elliott as the assailant, police did not make any arrests because of a lack of information and the fact the witness appeared to be intoxicated. Police also did not speak with Elliott because he was gone by the time they arrived. No charges have been filed at this time.

  • Ryan Rambo

    TMZ Sports reports a witness saw Ezekiel Elliott punch a man at a Dallas-area bar Sunday night.
    A video shows the victim laying on the ground after the incident, but there is no video of the actual altercation. The victim suffered a broken nose. Despite a witness identifying Elliott as the assailant, police did not make any arrests because of a lack of information and the fact the witness appeared to be intoxicated. Police also did not speak with Elliott because he was gone by the time they arrived. No charges have been filed at this time.

  • T_S_O_P

    The ’05 Chargers game was such a strange one. Won it when Mikell caused a special teams turn over and Matt Ware recovered and ran it in for a score. I think we’d also lost Akers by then and Dirk Diggler to injury. I think our punter that game was either Lee, who went on to be a better one than Diggler or France, who shared a neame with the agent. This might not be exact, I’m working from memory.

    • Sb2bowl

      I left that game early because I was so disgusted with our lack of offense. Getting on to the 95 ramp, we blocked the field goal and returned it for a touchdown.

      I’m still bitter

    • BobSmith77

      I was watching that game at Kezar’s Pub in SF with his super-enaboriated Chargers’ fan who would yell ‘Chargers Rule!’ whenever something good happened.

      This was kind of funny the 1st or 2nd time. By the 4th time, it lost a bit of its charm and in the 2nd half I wanted to shove a basket of onion rings down his throat.

      The best part was after the blocked FG/return TD an Eagles’ fan next to him derisively yelled ‘Chargers Rule!’ in a mocking tone & very loud. That prompted an ‘f@ck you!’ from Chargers’ super fan and an immediate toss by bar staff.

      • daveH

        Great memoir to share! !! ..was going to say that a few more hundred times and Chargers Rule gets funny again

  • T_S_O_P

    On the previous coaches, and linking to the previous article, Wade Phillips has had players reach some impressive sack numbers under his DC-ship, including Reggie’s 20+, JJ’s 20+, Ware’s 20+, or how about turn Bryce Paup free for 17.5,

  • A_T_G
  • Guy Media

    “Kurt” had a rough day.

    http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20089114/kirk-cousins-washington-redskins-become-first-qb-repeat-franchise-tag-player

    Washington had the nerve to claim offering Cousins guarantees at the same cost he’d be for playing this year under the tag and next year under the transition tag as some type of great offer.

    What a joke. They’re going to have to buck up with a 5 year / $120 million dollar offer with $70 mil of that guaranteed, or it ain’t happening.

    • SteveH

      Why is “Kurt” in quotes? Are we suspicious that’s not his real name now?

      • Guy Media

        No, dumb dumb George Allen called him Kurt in the presser.

        • Dave

          Here’s my crazy prediction, Dak will turn into Foles 2.0, the skins will let Kirk walk and Jerry Jones will swoop and and sign him to a huge deal. In the meantime, the skins will win 5 games and miss out on the top 2 QBs in the 2018 draft.

          • Guy Media

            Ha! That would be comical x 2. x 3 even.

            I still see Cousins as a Niner however.

          • Dave

            All things being equal, Kirk would really have to want to play for Shanny over playing on the highest profile team in the highest profile division with a much better surrounding cast. Let’s not forget getting to play his former team 2x per year.

          • Ryan Rambo

            YASS HUNTEE!!!

        • SteveH

          That’s amazing. The Washteam only seems to know how to piddle down the inside of their legs the last 6-7 years.

  • izzylangfan

    Thank you for these articles on JJ. I was just remembering that LaDainian Tomlinson stifle game the other day. The Eagles weren’t supposed to have a chance in that game.

    More than anything I used to love to listen to his press conferences. He had great compassion for his players but was able to magically balance it with a demanding nature and a step on the throat killer mentality directed against the opponent. I still miss him: the press conferences, the defense, the man.

  • daveH

    JJ HoF
    Fat man no.
    …well tbf, the fat man can get in like Vinny Testaverde can.. all these longevity & fat paycheck records

    • Dave
      • daveH

        JJ is Hall worthy.
        AR is not. No way.
        …except that guess how Vinny Testaverde got a bunch of NFL records? (Note: i am drawing a comparison) He played a long long freakin time;, and while one can besmurch his records. .his longevity is impressive.
        .
        AR similarly has a long looooong career. I see his career as pretty much empty of any real defining success that can be all his. So i do not believe he is HoF worthy .. howrver, he has made a ton of moola for himself over a long coaching career, and has a healthy following of worshippers. .. that is his success.
        ..
        That any less of a salad ?

        • Dave

          Ultimately, the main way to get in the HOF is by winning Superbowls. Until Andy gets a win, his chances are slim.

          With that being said, Andy was, and still is, a top-tier head coach while Vinny was a journeyman QB with 2 solids seasons out of 21.

          • Guy Media

            “Ultimately, the main way to get in the HOF is by winning Superbowls.”

            Which I consider a fair standard for head coaches; only. It is beyond stupid to use Super Bowls for HOF induction of players, yet these idiots in the voting room continue to misdiagnose the relative greatness of one player vs. another with it comes to HOF induction.

          • Dave

            I agree. Look no farther than Terrell Davis who is going in this year.

          • daveH

            Andy is a better coach than Vinny was pro QB .. but Vinny was a better college QB than Andy was GM
            .

            Ha hows that for some more blabbering salad

          • Dave

            Dunno about that.

            Vinny was surrounded by some serious talent for his 2 years while starting at Miami including having 4 All Americans on offense with Michael Irvin as his go-to WR. Led by Jerome Brown on defense and Jimmy Johnson on offense, Vinny succeeded Bernie Kosar (who succeeded Jim Kelly) and was given way too much credit IMO.

            Vinny threw 5 interceptions against Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl matching the #1 Hurricanes against #2 Penn State only scoring 10 points and losing the game.

          • daveH

            Agree.
            And if you insert AR for Vinny change some names you have just made the same case for andy. .. and that why i drew the comparison in the first place.
            Moderate succesd doesn’t get one in The Hall.
            Moderate success over a very long career however might.

          • Dave

            How so? If I sub Andy for Vinny, I have a GM that put together a stud team and hired a stud head coach. Isn’t that what a GM is supposed to do? Put the team in the best possible position to win.

            Getting to the big game and throwing 5 interceptions is equivalent to drafting JeMarcus Russel IMO.

          • daveH

            Andy got to the big game once .. how did he do?
            5 int performance = 2 minute bungle

          • Dave

            We’re back onto word salad levels of coherence.

          • daveH

            Jeez man I’m on a bus trying to type on my cell ..
            I am trying to compare Testaverde’s 5 interception game to Andy Reid’s 1 Super Bowl ..
            How did Andy fare? Did he leave any impressions on football fans? ?? (Rhetorical question indeed. . His final 2 minutes is the photo for retarded in the dictionary). .
            Thats AR’s legacy

          • Dave

            I think we watched a different game. All Andy can do at that moment is call the plays, which he did. Lots of controversy at the end of the game with Donny being gassed and/or sick.

          • daveH

            Rewatch the last 2 minutes .. and listen to joe buck ..

  • Gary Barnes

    That run of Campbell through JJ is a very good group of defensive coaches.

    It helps explain why Eagles fans love good defense and detest weak defense.

    My fav was Carson, still somehow under-rated. JJ is second.

    I love JJ, but I bristle at again the slighting of Reid. People seem to try so hard to hold Reid up to standards that no other coach here is ever held to. There is still a strange reluctance to give Reid his due.

    Reid HIRED JJ and brought him in from the NFL nether lands. JJ was respected in coaching circles, but not well known beyond that. Reid gets the credit for that and certainly gets the vast majority of credit for putting those incredible staffs together. I’m sure he asked for JJ’s input and trusted him totally, but JJ’s very existence as an Eagles coach only happened because of Reid.