Concern for Jim Johnson? Eagles Add Defensive Coach Brian Stewart


By PFC Eagles Writer Bob Cunnigham

Matt Mosley of ESPN.com has confirmed that the Eagles have indeed brought in former Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Brian Stewart in an “undetermined role.” As of now, his role with the team is undefined. However, this could mean that Jim Johnson’s chemotherapy and attempt to beat his cancer is not going so well. The Eagles do not have an opening for a coach on their staff, which makes this move all the more puzzling, and frightening.
If the Eagles do not believe that Johnson’s recovery is going so well and that he will be out for an extended period of time, they may be bringing in Stewart to help McDermott in his transition into becoming the defensive coordinator for longer than first thought.

Perhaps, for good.

Johnson has been battling cancer for a few months now, and had seemed to be fighting it off pretty well. He was at the NovaCare complex every day, working late, coaching up his players, and just going about his normal day.

Unfortunately he was forced to take an indefinite leave of absence in order to continue his fight against the cancer.

In his absence, McDermott has been running the defense as the interim defensive coordinator. Even though the leave of absence had no ending date, it was widely assumed that Johnson would be back for the season, if not Training Camp.

That may no longer be the case.

Bringing in Stewart shows that the Eagles are at least worried that they will be without the services of Jim Johnson for a good portion, if not all, of the 2009-2010 season. Stewart would serve as a kind of consultant for McDermott, helping him set a schedule for his defense and helping with meetings among other things.

Stewart was a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons before being fired this past offseason. Former defensive coordinators are not brought in without reason.

If Johnson’s health has taken a turn for the worse, or perhaps has just not shown improvement, the defense could be in for a drastic change. Or, perhaps not.

The point is that no one knows how McDermott will react or run this defense. If Johnson is not on the sidelines, or at least in the coaches’ box, the defense all of a sudden because a huge question mark.

Let’s hope this is only a precaution.