. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Johnson Tabbed to Fill Shula's Big Shoes at Miami

COMBINED REPORTS


MIAMI -- Jimmy Johnson will succeed Don Shula as coach of the Miami Dolphins, according to an NFL source. Johnson guided the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl victories after the 1992 and '93 seasons before leaving following a feud with owner Jerry Jones.


Johnson, a South Florida resident who coached the University of Miami to a national championship in 1987, has long been rumored for the Dolphins' job. Several news sources reported the announcement was to take place at a press conference late Thursday.


Johnson, 52, who has worked as an analyst for Fox television since leaving the Cowboys, will be just the third coach in the Dolphins' 30-season history. George Wilson guided the team during its first four seasons. Shula bolted the Baltimore Colts to replace him and during the next 26 years became the winningest coach in NFL history with 347 victories. Shula's Dolphins won Super Bowls VII and VIII and, with a 17-0 record in 1972, had more victories than any unbeaten team in NFL history. Shula resigned last Friday and said he would have no problem if Johnson replaced him.


Johnson can command an enormous salary, perhaps even the part-ownership status Shula still enjoys. Johnson also has been courted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and reportedly turned down a contract last year with the Philadelphia Eagles. He lives in the Florida Keys and has seemed to covet the Dolphins' job since leaving Dallas.


Coaches who have followed legends in various sports usually have not been successful, but Johnson could be an exception. He built the Cowboys from a 1-15 record in his first season (1989) to victory in Super Bowl XXVII in his fourth, and he's taking over a team picked by many, including himself, to win the upcoming Super Bowl but that instead lost handily in the first round of the playoffs.


Johnson will not be intimidated by the job, because the coach he followed with the Cowboys was Tom Landry, whose 270 victories put him third in NFL history.


But the differences between this situation and the Cowboy surroundings in 1989 are considerable.


In Dallas, Johnson inherited a first-round draft pick that became Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman.


In Miami, his quarterback is aging Dan Marino, who is in no mood to rebuild.


In Dallas, Johnson inherited expendable talent Herschel Walker, whom he traded for several high draft picks which he used to build the core of his young team.


In Miami, there are no marquee players besides Dan Marino that he could deal for more than one first-round pick.


"Jimmy really fell into some things here that speeded up the process,'' Aikman said of Johnson. "It will be hard to duplicate that.'' ()