Eagles' Jim Johnson has died
PHILADELPHIA - July 28, 2009 -- Jim Johnson, whose attacking defenses helped the Eagles to one Super Bowl appearance and five NFC title games, has died. He was 68.
Johnson had taken a leave of absence from the team in May as he continued to battle a cancerous tumor on his spine. The Eagles announced his death on Tuesday afternoon.
A veteran of 22 years as an NFL assistant, Johnson is regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the league, known for building units able to pressure the quarterback from every angle. His defenses consistently ranked among the best in the league, including last season, when the Eagles finished third in total defense and fell one victory short of the Super Bowl.
From 2000-08, Johnson's Philadelphia defenses ranked second in the NFL in sacks (390). During his 10-year tenure, the Eagles made the playoffs seven times and he produced 26 Pro Bowl selections.
Earlier this week, the team announced that Sean McDermott would replace Johnson, who had been Andy Reid's only defensive coordinator in his 10 seasons as Eagles head coach.
In his first press conference as coordinator, McDermott paid tribute to Johnson.
"What haven't I learned from Jim?" McDermott said. "I don't think it would be fair to Jim, in this setting, to try and limit in one statement, one press conference, the effect that Jim has had on my life."
McDermott paid Johnson the ultimate compliment in describing the style of defense he wanted the Eagles to play: Johnson's style.
"There is one thing I know, and that is that this system, it works," McDermott said. "Jim has spent a considerable amount of time in his coaching career researching and finding things that work and finding things that didn't work, quite frankly, and I'm going to respect that and we're going to build on that. From there, we'll add wrinkles."
The Eagles said Reid and team president Joe Banner would be available Tuesday evening to talk about Johnson.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Vicky, two children and four grandchildren.
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