Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson (RIP) and former Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd were recently named as winners of the inaugural Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman award by the Pro Football Writers of America. The award is a lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL. It's no secret that both of these coaches were some of the best in the business.
The late Johnson was easily a fan-favorite in Philadelphia. He was often known for being a master of the blitz. More via The MMQB:
Johnson was still in full bloom at 68 when cancer of the spine killed him five years ago. He brought pressure with the best defensive coaches in recent history. Over his last nine years as Philadelphia defensive coordinator, his Eagles were second in the league with 390 sacks—yet only two of his pass-rushers (Hugh Douglas and Trent Cole) went to a Pro Bowl. Said one of his protégés, former Eagles assistant John Harbaugh, when Johnson died: "He saw potential and developed it. He made me believe I could coach at this level. In football, he was a pioneering and brilliant strategist, changing the way defense is played in the NFL." Johnson figured out ways of disguising pressure and bringing it against different teams with different players—and none of the 11 men on defense was out of the pressure mix. His Eagles once sacked Ben Roethlisberger nine times in a game; his last Eagle defense held the Giants and Vikings to 25 points in eight quarters in two road playoff wins in the 2008 season. He did his best work with the Eagles, but he also coached Arizona, Indianapolis and Seattle in an NFL tenure that dated to 1986.
Johnson passed away five years ago this July and the Eagles' defense just hasn't been the same without him.
The other former Eagles coach to receive an award wasn't in Philadelphia as long as Johnson was, but he served a total of nearly 40 years in the NFL. Offensive line guru Howard Mudd was hired by the Eagles after Andy Reid talked him out of retirement in 2011. The Eagles offensive line showed significant improvement with Mudd in charge. Mudd retired after the 2012 season when it was clear Reid wouldn't be returning to Philadelphia. More via The MMQB:
Mudd was a three-time Pro Bowl guard for the Niners in a seven-year NFL career in the ’60s. In 1974, he started coaching the offensive line in San Diego, and he went to coach lines in San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, Kansas City, Seattle again (developing Hall of Famer Walter Jones in the process), Indianapolis (for the first 12 years of Peyton Manning’s career) and Philadelphia before retiring after the 2012 season. Well, not exactly retiring. He volunteer-coached the Mount Si High School offensive line in North Bend, Wash., last fall. "I was as proud of those as any guys I coached in the NFL,’’ Mudd said. He’s best known for his 12 years with the Colts—particularly for his patch job in 2008, when Indy had Manning coming back from tricky summer knee surgery and a dangerous infection, and center Jeff Saturday was hurt, and Mudd had to get rookie Jamey Richard ready to play one of the most complicated center positions in football, with all the changes Manning makes at the line. The Colts won 12 games. "My mantra—and I hope they put this on my gravestone—was, ‘Do a few things, and do them extraordinarily well.’ "
This recognition is definitely deserved. The Eagles were very fortunate to have these assistant coaches on their staff.