Jim Johnson: Remembering the dean of defense one last time

Jim Johnson will be honored at halftime of Sunday night’s game.

It seems like just yesterday that Jim Johnson was patrolling the Eagles sideline, teaching his players how to become a quarterback’s worst nightmare.

But it’s been more than two years since the dean of defenses succumbed to cancer. On Sunday, at halftime, Johnson will finally be immortalized when his name is etched into the Eagles’ Honor Roll.

“I always said that I thought he was the best in the business at what he did,” said coach Andy Reid. “It was the right thing for the organization to do. I’m proud of the organization for doing that as early as they did it. It’s a great tribute to him and his family.”

Johnson left a legacy that will never be forgotten in South Philadelphia. His defenses consistently ranked among the best in the league. From 2000-08, under Johnson, the Eagles were second in the NFL in sacks (390).

But it was much more than the stats with Johnson. The coach didn’t just view his players as interchangeable chess pieces, or fantasy fodder. He was a teacher and a builder of men.

“Jim was tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia,” Brian Dawkins said at the time of his death. “He was a tough coach who wasn’t afraid to let you know how he was feeling, but at the same time, he cared about us deeply.”

Looking down the roster, there aren’t many names still lingering from the Johnson era. But the ones that are still here will never forget their former coordinator.

“He was an awesome coach, man,” said Mike Patterson. “He just inspired guys to go out there and play, and that’s what I liked the most about him. He didn’t have to come out and yell and stuff, he’d just go out there and talk, and you just had so much respect for him. I always enjoyed him. I’ll always miss him.”


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