Dawkins, Rivera release statements on Johnson

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The death of Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson hit the AFC West hard. He was close to San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who coached under him, and new Denver safety Brian Dawkins. Dawkins was a star under Johnson with the Eagles.

The Broncos and Chargers released statements from Dawkins and Rivera, respectively.


"This is a sad, sad day for myself and my Philadelphia family. Jim was tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia. 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. He was an absolute blessing to me with the way he used me on the football field and allowed me to show my God-given ability. His confidence in me meant so much-he looked to create new defenses each week to utilize my talents. I have been praying for him every day, and those prayers won't stop now. I'll be praying for his family and their comfort during this difficult time."

San Diego Chargers Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera on Jim Johnson:

"Jim was most certainly a very good man, a very decent man. He was definitely a mentor, not just for me but for several guys in the league right now that are coordinators and head coaches. He was just a real caring person. He gave me my start and my opportunity. He took the time to teach me. I'm extremely grateful for everything he did for me.

"Going into my fourth year in the league, he showed me how to script (plays). He showed me how to put together a game plan. Then he'd have me write his game plan up for him and he'd ask me, 'Why would you do this?' He'd tell me why. 'That's not good enough,' or 'That's a good idea.' He was most certainly a teacher.

"You talk about people giving you a start and helping you along the way. I got my first job coaching with Dave Wannstedt, but I got my first opportunity to be a position coach with Jim. He took the time to teach me and show me. I wouldn't be where I am today without him mentoring, showing me and giving me the opportunity.

"Leslie [Frazier], Steve [Spagnuolo‏] and I ... we laugh about our time with Jim all the time. We were the three young guys on the staff and Jim was hard on us. I remember just after I was hired in Philadelphia, I had just finished signing my contract and he walked into my office and closed the door. He said, 'Listen. I'm an old linebacker coach. Don't take anything personal when I come in and take over your meetings, when I take over your drills. I can't help myself. Don't take it personal when I'm hard on you because I'm just trying to teach you.' That's exactly what he did. You take a step back and look at the success we've all had. The direct correlation was Jim Johnson."