The Giants have named Craig Johnson the team’s new running backs coach.
Johnson was previously the quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings.
“This is a veteran coach that has coached some great players, like Steve McNair,” head coach Tom Coughlin said in a statement. “He’s been around a while and has experience as a quarterbacks coach, as a running backs coach and he’s been a coordinator in college.”
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to join such a great franchise,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’ve always admired coach Coughlin during the many years I’ve coached against him. I’ll come here to do my part to help the Giants get to and win a Super Bowl.”
More about Craig Johnson
From the Giants: Johnson, who is entering his 32nd year in coaching and 15th in the NFL, was the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterbacks coach the previous three seasons. He previously held the same position for 10 seasons with the Tennessee Titans, where he was also assistant head coach and running backs coach in 2010.
Johnson is the second former quarterbacks coach from the NFC North to join the Giants’ staff since the end of their 2013 season. Last week, Ben McAdoo was named the offensive coordinator. He had been the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay.
Johnson replaces Jerald Ingram, who was the team’s running backs coach from 2004-13.
With the Vikings, Johnson presided over the development of Christian Ponder, Minnesota’s first round draft choice in 2011. Ponder started all 16 games and led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012. In the recently-completed 2013 season, Ponder suffered a concussion and was limited to nine games. Matt Cassel led the team with 254 pass attempts, 15 more than Ponder. And Josh Freeman started one game, an Oct. 21 loss to the Giants in MetLife Stadium.
In Johnson’s first season as quarterbacks coach in 2011, Ponder threw for 1,853 yards and 13 TDs in 11 games.
During his long stint with the Titans, Johnson coached McNair, Vince Young and Kerry
Collins to Pro Bowl seasons. McNair was voted the NFL’s co-MVP in 2003 and was a Pro Bowler in 2000, ’03 and ’05. Young was the 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. In 2008, Collins, the former Giant, was pressed into action after Young was injured in the season-opener and responded with one of his career-best seasons, leading the team to a 12-3 mark as the starter and returning to the Pro Bowl.
Before joining the Titans staff, Johnson coached quarterbacks and running backs at the collegiate level from 1983-99. Johnson was a graduate assistant at Wyoming (1983) and Arkansas (1984). He also coached at Army (1985), Rutgers (1986-88), Virginia Military
Institute (1989-91), Northwestern (1992-96) and Maryland (1997-99). Johnson coached the Maryland quarterbacks, and for the 1997 and ’98 seasons he served as offensive coordinator. During his five years at Northwestern, he helped the Wildcats win consecutive Big Ten titles in 1995-96 for the first time in team history.
John Fennelly, Lead WriterNot quite sure if this is an upgrade over Jerald Ingram, whose achievements appear to be better suited to serve the Giants’ needs than Johnson’s. Ingram coached Fred Taylor and James Stewart in Jacksonville and Tiki Barber, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown here with the Giants.
One has to wonder if Ingram, OC Kevin Gilbride and TE Mike Pope were just sacrificial lambs after the Giants finished with their first losing record since 2004. Then again, with a new OC in Ben McAdoo thee team may just be tailoring the staff to suit his offensive scheme.