Bill Johnson was named the new defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints this evening.
Johnson comes to the Saints following the past two seasons as the defensive line coach for the Denver Broncos.
Johnson joined the Broncos after working as the Atlanta Falcons’ defensive line coach for six seasons (2001-06). He spent his first 21 years in coaching as a college assistant and has worked at major Division I-A programs such as Texas A&M University (1992-99), the University of Arkansas (1990-91, 2000) and the University of Miami (1987).
During his first year on the Broncos’ staff in 2007, Johnson instructed a defensive line that led the AFC (T-2nd in NFL) with nine takeaways as his group totaled seven fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Second-year defensive end Elvis Dumervil tied for sixth in the NFL with 12.5 sacks, which were the most by a Bronco in eight seasons, and tied for the league lead in takeaways (4) among defensive linemen. Johnson also oversaw the development of defensive end Tim Crowder, whose four sacks tied for fifth among league rookies.
Instructing the Falcons’ defensive line from 2001-06, Johnson helped the club post the seventh-highest sack total in the NFL (3rd in NFC) with 242 quarterback takedowns during that period. Atlanta twice ranked in the league’s top 10 in both fewest rushing yards per game and fewest rushing yards per carry allowed, doing so during the 2004 and 2006 campaigns.
Johnson also instructed two Pro Bowl selections during his time with Atlanta in defensive end Patrick Kerney (2004) and defensive tackle Rod Coleman (2005). Coleman’s 28 sacks under Johnson’s tutelage from 2004-06 marked the highest total by an NFL defensive tackle and were 7.5 more than the next closest player. Kerney tied for ninth in the league with 53 sacks while working with Johnson from 2001-06 and three times recorded at least 10 sacks in a season (2001-02 and ‘04).
In 2006, he helped Atlanta rank ninth in the NFL in rushing defense (103.6 ypg.) to mark the club’s lowest such figure since 1998. The Falcons ranked sixth in the league in yards per carry (3.8) in 2006, also their best average in eight years.
Johnson’s defensive line with Atlanta in 2005 was led by Coleman, who earned the first Pro Bowl selection of his career and led all NFL defensive tackles with 10.5 sacks. Johnson’s group also helped Atlanta lead the NFL in third-down defense (30.2%) that year.
Atlanta reached the NFC Championship Game during the 2004 season and featured a Johnson-led defensive line that paved the way for the club to lead the NFL in sacks (48) for the first time in franchise history and tie for eighth in the league in run defense (105.1 ypg.). Kerney ranked fourth in the league with a career-best 13 quarterback takedowns to earn Pro Bowl honors while Coleman tied for the most sacks (11.5) among all NFL interior linemen that season.
The Falcons’ 47 sacks in 2002 tied for the second most in a season in club annals, and the team was led by Kerney’s second consecutive season with a double-digit sack total (12).
Johnson joined the Falcons in 2001 after working the previous 21 seasons as a collegiate assistant. His most recent collegiate job was at Arkansas, where he completed his second stint with the Razorbacks as their defensive line coach in 2000.
Johnson’s longest collegiate coaching stint occurred at Texas A&M, where he spent eight seasons (1992-99) as its defensive line coach under Head Coach R.C. Slocum. Johnson helped the Aggies advance to six bowl games (3 Cotton Bowls, 2 Alamo Bowls and 1 Sugar Bowl), earn three conference championships (2 Southwest Conference, 1 Big 12 Conference) and finish ranked in the Top 10 three times. He instructed nine defensive linemen who were selected in the NFL Draft in eight seasons at Texas A&M.
The Aggies were crowned SWC champions with Johnson coaching their defensive line in 1992 and 1993, finishing those seasons ranked seventh and eighth respectively in the nation. His defensive line also was a key part of Texas A&M’s 1998 team that won the Big 12 title.
Individually, Johnson instructed defensive lineman Sam Adams, who was a consensus All-American at Texas A&M in 1993 and was selected as the national defensive player of the year by Sports Illustrated. Adams, who had 10.5 sacks in 1993, was chosen by the Seattle Seahawks with the eighth overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. He also coached Brandon Mitchell in 1995 as the Texas A&M defensive lineman earned first-team All-America honors (Walter Camp). Johnson came to Texas A&M after coaching the defensive lines of Arkansas (1990-91) and Louisiana Tech University (1988-89).
As a graduate assistant under Head Coach Jimmy Johnson at Miami in 1987, Johnson primarily worked with the Hurricanes’ linebackers on a team that went 12-0 and was voted National Champions after a victory over top-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
Before joining Miami’s coaching staff, Johnson spent two years as an assistant at McNeese State University (Lake Charles, La.) coaching the school’s outside linebackers in 1986 and its defensive line in 1985.
He entered the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, La.), in 1980 and served in that capacity for two seasons before coaching defensive ends/linebackers at the school from 1982-84. Johnson was a four-year letterwinner and two-year starter in football at Northwestern State.