In 2016, Johnson instructed a Bears wide receiving corps that was hampered by injuries for much of the season, with fifth-year wideout Alshon Jeffrey still accumulating 821 receiving yards on 52 receptions (15.8 avg.) despite playing in just 12 games. Cameron Meredith became the first undrafted player to lead the Bears in receiving since 1993, finishing with 66 catches for a club-best 888 yards and four touchdowns.
From 2006-11, Johnson spent his first stint as the wide receivers coach of the New Orleans Saints. During those six seasons, Johnson helped the wide receivers become part of a Saints passing offense that led the NFL in gross passing yards (28,749), completion percentage (67.6) and passing touchdowns (202). The Saints had 42 100-yard receiving performances by wide receivers during those six seasons. The Saints made four playoff appearances, won three division titles and won Super Bowl XLIV following the 2009 season while Johnson was with the team. In 2011, New Orleans established an NFL record for gross passing yards (5,505; now second in NFL history). Johnson oversaw the development of Marques Colston, a seventh round selection (252nd overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. During Johnson’s six seasons with the Saints, Colston ranked eighth in the NFL in receiving yards (6,240), ninth in receptions (449) and seventh in receiving touchdowns (48), while compiling five of his six career 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Colston’s 98 receptions in 2007 established a new franchise mark (now second) and his 11 touchdowns that season tied a franchise record (now tied for second).
Entering his eighth season tutoring wideouts in the NFL, few coaches at any level can match the wide receivers that Johnson has helped develop. The group of standouts under his direction while at the University of Miami (Fla.) and his prior stop at San Diego State includes some of the top wide receivers over the last decade, including NFL first-round picks Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne and Yatil Green.
At Miami, Johnson was part of a staff that went to nine bowl games and won the 2001 National Championship. He polished the skills of at least one All-Big East performer each season from 1996-2005, including Johnson – the third overall pick by Houston in 2003 – and Moss, who became the Hurricanes’ all-time leader in receiving yardage before making the Pro Bowl for Washington. Wayne departed ranked first in school history in catches and was selected to six Pro Bowls over his 14-year NFL career with Indianapolis.
In his five-year stint at San Diego State (1989-93), Johnson landed some of the school’s biggest recruits, including 2000 NFL MVP and fellow New Orleans native Marshall Faulk as well as WR Darnay Scott, who completed his eight-year NFL career with 408 grabs and 37 TDs. Each year Johnson was with the Aztecs, the school had an all-conference performer at wide receiver.
Johnson began his coaching career as a receivers coach at Lewiston (Idaho) High School in 1984, serving for three seasons before holding a similar position at the University of Idaho. He spent 1987 and 1988 at the school before becoming receivers coach at San Diego State. His next stop was at Southern Methodist in 1994 before becoming wide receivers coach in 1995 at the University of California.
Johnson attended the University of Idaho and graduated in Physical Education in 1985. He was born in New Orleans and is a graduate of St. Charles High School.
PLAYING CAREER: Idaho, 1980-83.
COACHING CAREER: Lewiston (Idaho) High School, 1984-86; Idaho, 1987-88; San Diego State, 1989-93; SMU, 1994; California, 1995; Miami (Fla.), 1996-2005; New Orleans Saints, 2006-11; Tulane (Head Coach), 2012-15; Chicago Bears, 2016; New Orleans Saints, 2017-.