New Jersey Generals Interviews; DL Toby Johnson and DL Coach Dez Walker

In 2022 the New Jersey Generals went 9-2, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Philadelphia Stars. The roster at the time looked very similar to the one we find with the Generals now. Many of the men mentioned by Coach Dez Walker in his interview were with the Generals in 2022, on the same squad that managed just 10 sacks as an entire team in 10 games.

Dramatic Improvement

The Generals went from one of the worst pass rushing teams in the USFL in 2022, to top two in 2023. The main change? Coach Dez Walker, and the man who brought him here Ted Cottrell. They went from 10 sacks, to 28 in one season. Toby Johnson who has made two straight All-USFL teams led the team with 2 sacks last season, but this season it was Hercules Mata’afa with 6.

Naturally this prompted me to ask Coach how he managed to turn around this unit. He pointed to one main factor: Rushing as a team, no longer was it every man for themselves, now the defensive line was working as a cohesive unit to ultimately produce much more pressure on the quarterback. With 42 knockdowns, and 28 sacks in just 10 games, the results speak for themselves, and they speak rather loudly.

Toby Johnson

Toby Johnson is one of the biggest characters you will find in the USFL. He is very high energy on the field, and he never takes a play off. He is regarded as a leader for the Generals, and as such was granted the ability to play for the Massachusetts Pirates of the IFL to finish out their season. The Pirates would unfortunately go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs, with many of their players headed back to outdoor teams once their XFL, or USFL season begins.

Toby was one of many former NFL players who bounced around the league never finding a home to settle into. He played for four NFL teams in four seasons before signing with the 2020 XFL. In just 5 games he managed 11 tackles, and 1 interception. He didn’t log a sack before the league shut down due to covid 19.

With no outdoor alternatives that paid at the time, Johnson looked to indoor opportunities, and joined the Massachusetts Pirates where he helped win a Championship in 2021. Just months after winning his first professional championship, he was drafted by the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. In two seasons since joining the Generals he has: 76 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 1 interception.

Coach Dez Walker

Coach Walker looks at himself as one thing as a coach, a pass rush specialist. His results have spoken for themselves, after working for a literal who’s who of pass rushers at the NFL level, as well as names fans would recognize in the USFL, and XFL. Names like Cameron Heyward, Bud Dupree, Davin Bellamy, Anree Saint-Amour just to name a few.

Coach has overseen the NFL Academy defensive line for several years now. He has helped players take the next step to being the best pass rushers they can be, and many of them have professional football contracts thanks in part due to the skills Coach Walker was able to pass along. During his time there, he worked closely with Ted Cottrell his new defensive coordiantor. He provides us with a funny story as to how he was given the role of defensive line coach

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