Jim Johnson, the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator that devoted his life to depriving quarterbacks of time and space, finally ran out of both last night, succumbing to melanoma that was discovered in his body eight years earlier. He was 68.
It always seemed an odd match, the plainspoken and gentlemanly coach and the vicious, take-no-prisoners defense that he unleashed. Johnson took a vandal’s delight in ransacking the other team’s offensive game plan.
Where many coaches hide behind jargon and secrecy, Johnson’s innate self-confidence and keen sense of perspective combined to make him remarkably candid with reporters and, through them, the fans.
Johnson had coached in in the USFL and ran the defenses that helped deliver five NFC East titles to Philly, and was one of the highest-paid coordinators in the NFL. He was one of those badass dudes that leaves the NFL a more gentrified place, sadly, in his glaring absence.