Life Without Johnson: Can The Eagles Continue Their Top 3 "D" in '09?

Jamie BrownCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2009

Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Sean McDermott directs the defense  against the Dallas Cowboys November 14, 2005 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 21 - 20.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Jim Johnson left the team a few months back indefinitely due to his cancer treatment. It now looks like he has hung up the defensive coordinator hat for good. We all wish him the best of luck with his ongoing treatment and hope for the best.

However, the football season is coming ever closer and the loss of a top 5 defensive coordinator could change the outlook of the entire season for Philadelphia.

In 2008 the Eagles were:

4th in the league for stopping the run.

3rd in the league for stopping the pass.

3rd overall for defense in the NFL.

How can they continue this without the beloved Brian Dawkins? How can they keep up the pressure they put on offenses without Jim Johnson at the helm?

In steps Sean McDermott.

McDermott has the credentials, he was the linebacker coach in 2007 and was the secondary coach in 2008. 2009 he is the defensive coordinator.

For one, he has a reasonably young defense. They have a very young MLB and no solid leader at safety, yet. Quentin Mikell has reportedly been saying he will become the leader in the coming season, but I see Asante Samuel to be the one stepping up.

Two, the Eagles are still going to run Johnson's defense. Johnson would be very fluent with this playbook, showing he made it, and McDermott needs to step up and fill some big shoes.

Johnson made the Eagles known for their unique blitzes.

Well hidden and hard hitting.

The Eagles' defense is very scheme orientated and there is a huge question hanging over McDermott's ability to run and fully understand it.

Andy Reid says he has "full confidence" in McDermott running this defense, and to be honest, I don't share his confidence.

McDermott has been around long enough to see this team develop and this defense turn into one of the greatest in the NFL, but without leaders like Dawkins, he could have trouble keeping this defense where it was at the end of last year.

But, Andy Reid could be making a great move.

McDermott could be great. He has been around for a long while and he obviously knows how to play the game. He has trained the secondary to grab all of the interceptions they did, and he has taught the linebackers how to wrap up a Brandon Jacobs or Marion Barber so very well.

Who is to say he can't just step in and fill the gaping hole left by Johnson?

Who is to say he won't bring the team to number one?

I heard a reporter from say "I can go onto the Internet and find a recipe and I can make it, but that doesn't mean I know how to make it well." McDermott has a very good recipe on his hands, filled with corner and safety blitzes, smothered with Cover 1 plays, and sprinkled on top with a touch of all out zone coverage.

But can McDermott make the cake?