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Coaching Quack: WR Coach Michael Johnson

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Oregon v UCLA
Dillon Mitchell. Breakout star under Coach Johnson’s tutelage?
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Who is the Ducks’ receivers coach? What can he bring to the table as a developer and recruiter? Will he stay long term? Can he get the Ducks receivers on the right path?

Coach: Michael Johnson

Title: Wide Receivers Coach

Salary: 2 years, $335,000 per year

Buyout: 10% of guaranteed salary if coach leaves before the bowl game and/or conclusion of the Early Signing Period. Buyout is waived if he leaves for a FBS coordinator or Head Coach job.

Age: 45

Alma Mater: Arizona State / Mesa CC / Akron

- Originally played quarterback for the Sun Devils in the mid 80s before transferring to a junior college and ultimately finishing up at Akron.

- Had a brief two year professional career in Canada.

- He started his coaching career as the receivers coach for the rival Beavers in 1997 under Mike Riley. Served as QB coach for the team during the 1999 season under head coach Dennis Erickson (another familiar face to the Ducks).

- Johnson left the Beavers for the 2000 season to join Riley’s staff in San Diego to serve as the QB coach for two years. He was tasked with coaching up the memorable Doug Flutie and some guy named Drew Brees (he’s pretty good and still playing).

- MJ has extensive NFL experience as he’s logged 10 years in various roles as offensive coordinator, receivers coach and QB coach. Intimately familiar with the west coast as only one previous stop had him on the east coast (Baltimore Ravens).

- Returned to the college ranks in 2011 as the OC for UCLA under former head coach turned ATQ meme favorite Rick Neuheisel.

- Joined the Ducks staff as receivers coach in February 2017 and was retained in 2018 under new coach Mario Cristobal.

Recruiting

Best Oregon signee: Jalen Hall. A four star receiver that ranked 15th in the state of California, 22nd at his position, and 127th overall nationally. Signed with the Ducks but left the team for personal reasons during spring practice. Has not yet returned as of press time.

Best Oregon commit: Mycah Pittman. A four star receiver that ranks 13th in the state of Cali, 11th at his position, and 69th nationally. Son of long time Tampa Bay Buccaneer RB Michael Pittman. Committed to the Ducks on July 23, 2018.

Analysis

Not much can be ascertained due to his short tenure as a college coach but the signs are positive. Check back in a few years.

Player Development

Atlanta

Michael Vick - Easily one of the most exciting players in the history of the NFL. Madden 2004 Vick was nigh unstoppable. The on field version was pretty solid. Johnson was with him during the early stages of his career. Didn’t really develop into an elite passer but was serviceable enough towards the end of his career. Infamously convicted of dogfighting in 2007. Last played for the Steelers in 2015. Four time Pro Bowl QB.

Matt Schaub - Vick’s backup had a decent career as both a starter and backup. Most notably started for the Houston Texans for a number of years. Still in the league for the Falcons as a backup to Matt Ryan.

Baltimore

Mark Clayton - Was a decent possession receiver type who just couldn’t get to the next step but had a 5 year career in the NFL.

Derrick Mason - A two time Pro Bowl receiver that is a Tennessee Titans legend. He holds numerous records for both the Titans and Ravens. Retired in 2012 with 943 receptions for 12,061 yards and 66 touchdowns.

San Francisco

Johnson held the title of QB coach for the 2009 season and became the OC in 2010 after the original OC was fired after three games. It was a success given the poor state of the roster and QB Alex Smith not yet fully developed.

Analysis

A mixed bag of hits and misses during his NFL stay. Interestingly, he was not retained by either Harbaugh brother after the previous coach was fired in Baltimore and San Francisco. Not many assistants can claim that I think. I like to think that Johnson’s time was a net positive regardless of results on the field.

Final Summary

Johnson’s resume certainly speaks for itself as he has both pro and college experience. He can advise the current gen Ducks on how life works at the next level after experiencing it for a decade coaching. Recruiting wise, he’s just getting started so the jury is still out but netting several four stars is a good start. He’s mainly from a pro style offensive background. I like the fact that he has play calling experience so he can provide some feedback to OC Marcus Arroyo. The receivers should be much improved in 2018 after a rocky first year that saw multiple injuries that forced some guys to play early and/or transition from other positions. His son, Michael Johnson, Jr recently committed to Penn State.