Coaches Corner: Defensive Line Coach Don Johnson

Don Johnson is the fourth different defensive line coach the Bears have had as many years, but with a talented unit at his disposal that fact is of little worry.

Johnson spent 18 years coaching at the collegiate level, including the last four at UCLA. The Bears hired the 51-year-old in February to tutor the front four.

The following is a one-on-one Q&A session with Bear Report. BR: Do feel you've been blessed with great players in Chicago?
Johnson: "Yeah, absolutely they're all very talented. If we get the cohesiveness that we need, it's going to be exciting to watch them on Sundays. I'm waiting for Sundays to see what they're going to do. I'm going to do my best to get them prepared and then on game day I want to watch them work."

BR: When you were hired, did you take a lot of time to evaluate film from last year?
Johnson: "I looked at the film just to make sure I was in tune with the concept and I wanted to see how they were taught to do things last year. Different techniques and different philosophies, but that was just for me to be conscious of what was going on, as opposed to trying to evaluate them."

BR: How does your philosophy differ from former d-line coach Karl Dunbar?
Johnson: "Every coach is getting to the same point, we just take different paths to get there. We're doing a lot of things as far as working with our hands. Our hand eye coordination and things like that. With the speed we have there's things we can accomplish if we're disciplined with our vision. You've got to get some continuity going and get the kids to understand to the point where they're thinking the same thing you're thinking. We're focusing on learning protections and breaking them down and being able to give ourselves an advantage by some of the things that we do as a front. You'd like them to go into a game with the confidence that they can call a stunt on the line of scrimmage and be successful because you never know what type of formation a team is going to come out in."

BR: Will that only come with time?
Johnson: "Being together, seeing the film, understanding the formation. We want to be all on the same page, so it's spontaneous on game day."

BR: What type of impression has Alex Brown made on you?
Johnson: "Alex goes a hundred miles an hour, he's got great quickness. He's got great athleticism, he can't catch but we're working on that. But he's got the package we're looking for in a speed rush guy."

Br: Does being lighter make Brown more susceptible to run game?
Johnson: "It's a matter of strength and leverage. If we get in the perfect position and get great hand placement we can hold off the bigger guys."

BR: Can Adewale Ogunleye be Alex Brown's version of Jason Taylor?
Johnson: "The guys get set for sacks, it's normally by the inside guys. If your d-tackles are not condensing the pocket and getting vertical push the quarterback can step up and throw the football. It's a four-man deal. You've got to have one guy closing off one edge, one closing off the other and getting some vertical push up the middle or there's an escape route for that quarterback or there's a window for him to throw through. We keep preaching it takes four guys to get a sack. Your name might not be the one in statistics, but you know you helped accomplish it."

BR: With the talent of the starters, does Ian Scott get overlooked?
Johnson: "Any of those inside guys can be doing some grunt work because you've got blocks coming from all different angles. You've got double-teams, combo blocks.

BR: Does it take a defensive tackle longer to develop than an end?
Johnson: "Well you hope they progress every year. But right now we've got some great competition and that makes you work that much harder. It makes you a better player knowing that the guy behind you could be standing in front of you any minute."

BR: According to players there were a lot of near misses on sacks last year. What can be done differently to take down the quarterback when given the chance?
Johnson: "The point of having four guys working at the same level, some of those near misses is because there was somewhere for the quarterback to vacate, a little window where he could throw the ball out, or a loss of containment where he got outside of the pocket. And that's why you've got to have four guys on the same page."

Bear Report Top Stories