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Wednesday, July 29, 2009
What made Jim Johnson different?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The tributes to the late Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson continue to pour in this afternoon. I just received a transcript of what Johnson's successor, Sean McDermott, had to say about him. Reporters asked McDermott for examples of how Johnson was able to maximize the talent of his defensive personnel:

 
  Chris Gardner/Getty Images
  Jim Johnson left his mark on the National Football League.

"I'm still looking for that book of sorcery, so to speak, somewhere in his office," said McDermott. "Because that book of potions and magic and that Harry Potter book is out there somewhere and I haven't found it yet but it's in there somewhere and I'm going to look in every corner until I find it. [Johnson] would come into a meeting and we'd all be sitting there and you can dress the room up with whomever you want to put in the room at the time: [former Eagles LB coach] Ron Rivera, [former DBs coach] Leslie [Frazier] or as of late with myself and [LB coach] coach [Bill] Shuey and all the other coaches on the staff and he would bring a new idea to the table every week.

"That's what was amazing about it is that he just had that beautiful mind and whether it was halftime of a game or preparing for a game, he would come up with a new idea to maximize his personnel. He had a new idea every week and if it was putting [former Eagles DE] Hugh Douglas in a position to make a play or take advantage of an offensive lineman or, [former Eagles CB] Troy Vincent or [former Eagles CB] Bobby Taylor, just a list of ideas that was never-ending. And he always had an answer and that's Jim. You look to him at halftime of a game and he always had an answer for you."

Now the Eagles' defensive coordinator, McDermott basically started out as a grunt for Andy Reid. McDermott was asked about his first encounter with the defensive coordinator.

"I had an office across the hall at Veterans Stadium from Jim and I was operating at that time as Andy's assistant," said McDermott. "And Jim would always come out and check with me on how I was doing. And I had very little influence on Jim or the defense at that point but, he took the time to say hello to me and he didn't need to do that and so, you remember things like that. Especially when you're trying to climb the ladder and that made a difference for me. It meant something to me."

I'm planning to talk to a couple of Eagles players by phone this week, and I'll get their thoughts on Johnson.