Eagles Def. Coach Jim Johnson Dies From Cancer

Sad news out of Bethlehem, PA: Jim Johnson, one of the NFL’s greatest defensive coaches and by all accounts a classy, approachable gentleman in a sport that needs more of them, passed away today after a battle with cancer. Eagles Nation is justifiably bummed right now, as are we all.

Jim Johnson

Johnson, diagnosed with melanoma, had taken a leave of absence recently, and Sean McDermott was named as Defensive Coordinator. He was diagnosed six months ago, but it was thought that Johnson could rally, and his death comes as somewhat of a surprise.

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).

The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER has a guest book you can sign.

Johnson, an All-Big 8 quarterback under coach Dan Devine at Missouri, is said to have developed his innovative philosophy on blitzing after coaching against Steve Young and the 49ers in the mid-1990s.

“It was around 1994 or ‘95, when I was with the Colts, and we were playing against San Francisco with Steve Young running the West Coast offense, releasing receivers all the time, guys getting by you. The idea was don’t let these people dictate to you. You have to put more pressure [on the quarterback], and every year we tried to figure out how to do that.”

Andy Reid is expected to address the media at about 7 p.m., ET.