I shouldn't be the one doing this post. A.J.'s the Eagles fan. I'm a Giants fan. But I've got absolutely no problems being the one to eulogize one of the most respected figures in the 21st century NFL.
Jim Johnson's only head coaching gigs were in small college programs, but he never seems to have had aspirations to do it at the NFL level. He was content being one of the most accomplished defensive coordinators in the business.
It was a shock when the team announced in January he was taking a leave of absence to fight melanoma. And we knew things were bad when the Eagles named a new coordinator this past weekend — with Johnson's blessing, of course. But the football world wasn't yet ready for today's news: Jim Johnson, dead at 68.
For ten years, Jim Johnson was an exceptional coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, but more importantly, he was an outstanding human being," Eagles Chairman Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement released by the team. "As an integral part of the Eagles family, Jim epitomized the traits of what a great coach should be – a teacher, a leader, and a winner. He positively touched the lives of so many people in and out of the Eagles organization. It was easy to feel close to him. Our hearts go out to his wife, Vicky and his wonderful family. We will miss him greatly."
As I said, I'm a Giants fan. So my memories of Johnson are limited to his unparalleled blitz packages terrorizing Kent Graham, Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner and Eli Manning twice a year, every year. It was always nerve-wracking seeing our QB lined up against the Eagles' D; Jim Johnson was one of the best.
Eagles' Jim Johnson Dies From Cancer [Philadelphia Inquirer]