July 16, 1943- Football coach; sportscaster.
|When Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 and abruptly replaced the coaching legend Tom Landry, the only coach in the team's history, with Jimmy Johnson, a brash college coach with no NFL experience, many football fans were shocked. The venerated Landry seemed to have been shunted aside in favor of a college coach known as much for his lacquered coiffure as for the successful, if controversial, teams he fielded at the University of Miami. In the Cowboys, Johnson inherited a once-mighty club that had fallen on hard times, but in just three seasons he silenced his critics by transforming Dallas into a title contender. When the Cowboys demolished the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, in January 1993, Johnson became the first coach to have won both a college national championship and a Super Bowl. With Dallas's second consecutive NFL championship, in 1994, Johnson joined the select company of Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, and Chuck Noll as the only coaches to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Former college teammates and roommates, Johnson and Jones had been portrayed in the media as best friends who shared the responsibility for restoring the Cowboys to greatness. The reality, however, was that the two men had never been close. After several well-publicized|
verbal jabs at each other, they ended their productive but tempestuous relationship in March 1994, when Johnson resigned as coach of the two-time defending Super Bowl champions.
Johnson used the fact that he had a very good running back in Emmitt Smith to develop the off tackle run play to perfection. This play is the reason for most of Emmitt's and Johnson's success.
However prior to Jimmy Johnson's utilization of the off tackle run, this play was for the most part used to gain 2-3 yards. Of course, there was always the chance that Jim Brown would bust a 65-yard run, but for the most part, running between the tackles was strictly short yardage fare. Even in the NFL, sportswriters snoozed in the booth as they watched pro teams grind out "three yards and a cloud of dust."
However, during the past ten years, a different style of running back has emerged, inspiring a new approach to the inside running game. Slashing and cutting their way behind traps and counter blocks, running backs like Emmitt Smith, have turned the off tackle play into a game breaker. Pounding the ball between tackles E. Williams and M. Tuinei, still produces a cloud of dust, but now when the dust settles, Emmit is often fifteen yards downfield.
While the great runners like Emmit Smith can create their own openings, you can increase their options with a combination of trap blocks, motion and mis-direction. Thus Jimmy Johnson was able to use this play to set up pass plays because the defense was keyed on stopping the run. Thus just as in Dallas where Johnson had Smith, Aikman and Irvin to as the primary offensive weapons, he is hoping that Abdul-Jabar, Marino, and may Green will get to a level when they can also work the off tackle play so well that teams are suprised whn Dan Marino goes back to pass. Maybe Jimmy has another Super Bowl conteder in Miami, but not in the near future, he just hopes that Marino can stay intact long enough to build a Super Bowl quality team arround him to get to the big game. However if you ask Jimmy Johnso he'd always tell you that he had a great team back in his first season with Dallas, good enough to go to the Super Bowl even - that team finish 1-15. That kind of attitude is what makes Jimmy Johnso an excellent coach, the ability to get the best out of every player.
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