The other team’s quarterback must go down and he must go down hard.
— Al Davis
If any coach subscribed to that theory, it was Jim Johnson. I’ve been watching football for over twenty-five years and I can’t recall a defensive coordinator who utilized the blitz as much or as effectively as Johnson. He would come from every angle at every position on every down. He believed consistent pressure was the key to victory and more often than not, he was correct.
Jim Johnson died on Tuesday at the age of 68. I will never forget the way he stalked the sidelines on game days, feverishly gnawing on a piece of gum. His mind was constantly working and scheming. As a fan, I failed to lose confidence in his ability to design a formation or blitz that would stop the opponent’s offense at a critical point. He always had an answer or trick up his sleeve. That’s how I choose to remember him. As a brilliant defensive coach who could punch-counterpunch with the very best.
What did Johnson’s defense do? They stopped the run and won the game. So long, JJ. It won’t be the same without you.
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