D.J. Is Still Fighting; Just Ask Broncos

From Invesco Field, Denver

Derrick Johnson’s answer was quick and to the point: he has no desire to come back to the Chiefs in the part-time role that he played during this 2009 season.

“I don’t want to; I want to play,” Johnson said on Sunday. “I never dreams of playing this role, but at the same time you have to make the most of what you have.’

Johnson certainly made the most of his opportunity against QB Kyle Orton and the Denver offense, and if his two interceptions and returns for touchdowns doesn’t convince the decision makers of his full-time worth to the franchise, what will?

“It’s been frustrating, going in and out and playing a different role,” Johnson said. “But I love football. I had a chance to go make some plays for my teammates.”

And they were two beauties. Both of Orton’s passes were coming at him so fast they almost knocked him over. But Johnson caught the ball, recovered his balance and raced 45 and then 60 yards for touchdowns.

With two interception returns for scores in the same game, Johnson became the 25th player to do that in the history of the league and the third member of the Chiefs. S Jim Kearney did it in 1972 against the Broncos and S Lloyd Burruss matched it with two picks for scores against San Diego during the 1986 season.

Other names on that list of 25 include people like Hall of Famer Ken Houston, Eric Allen, Ken Norton, Ronde Barber and the last player before Johnson to get it done, Arizona’s Antrel Rolle who scored twice on interceptions against Cincinnati in 2007.

“I heard that a few minutes ago and that’s great,” Johnson said of joining a select group of defenders in the end zone.

It was Johnson’s second INT return for a TD that really pushed the Chiefs over the top against the Broncos. They held a six-point lead after Ryan Succop hit a 47-yard FG early in the fourth quarter. Denver’s offense took over and that’s when Johnson stepped up.

“I was actually supposed to be blitzing on the other side, but I read the quarterback and he was looking down on his receiver really hard and I got in front of it,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how I caught the ball. It was a blur in there. It came really fast.

“I thought somebody was going to catch me, but I was all by myself.”

There were times this year when Johnson felt all by himself as he sat in the Chiefs locker room. A starter in each of the games during his four previous seasons, he was moved to a role as a nickel linebacker and Johnson wasn’t sure why. Eventually, he tried to make the best of things.

“If you love football, whenever you get a chance to get out there and play, you’ve just got to go out and seize the moment,” Johnson said. “Do I wish I would have played more? Yeah, I have a lot of confidence in myself. Sometimes you don’t have to agree. All the coaches have great intentions; it was anything about doing something bad to Derrick Johnson.

“It’s a combination of things. We disagree on some things and he (Haley) knows that. We don’t’ have any beef or anything like that. He told me when I get my chance, I need to play. That’s what I did today.”

But more than anything else what happened on Sunday wasn’t about vindication for Johnson. It was about winning.

“The most frustrating thing about this year has been the losing,” Johnson said. “Of course I want to play more, but when you lose a lot, it’s just … this win feels good. Bumps and bruises don’t hurt as much.”

And the previous four months don’t hurt as much either.

“This has been going on all year, and I know how to handle it now,” Johnson said. “It’s made me a better person.”

12 Responses to “D.J. Is Still Fighting; Just Ask Broncos”

  • January 4, 2010  - Tracy says:

    If Haley was making a point to DJ by not playing him, both men should now be past their differences. If that is the reason why DJ has been forced to sit out most of the games before yesterday, the Haley needs to take a grow-up-and-get-over-it-pill.
    More than most players, DJ has not lived up to his promise but given what he did to the Broncos, that seems to be more a matte of coaching than anything else.
    With any luck, Scott Pioli will deal with DJ differently than CP did with Donnie Edwards, Scott Fujita and Kawika MItchell.

  • January 4, 2010  - dave says:

    Is being in the right place one of the reasons why
    DJ was demoted? I noticed in his interview he stated that we was “suppose to be blitzing from the other side” when he made one of his interceptions. Yes, in this case he made a great play, but behind the scenes this may be one of the major reasons for his problem.

  • January 4, 2010  - Rex says:

    DJ has been in the league for five years. He finally has the type of dominating game everyone imagined when he was drafted, and people are actually criticizing Haley for not playing him more or for needing to “grow up” or whatever the case may be.

    FIVE YEARS in the league before DJ had a game like this.

    Maybe Haley is the coach who’s finally managed to push some of the right buttons with DJ. Hopefully next season we’ll get to see more of the payoff.

  • January 4, 2010  - ED says:

    Agreed Rex. DJ has games like this about two times in a season. Remember 2008 yr against the Broncos win LJ ran for 198 yards. DJ I think had a couple of sacks and like 10 plus tackles. Then we didn’t here from the guy the rest of the season. DJ has been very inconsistent player thats why he’s on the bench and Williams has been playing. Demmario doesn’t give you alot of flash but he has a nose for the ball and makes tackles week end and week out As for DJ I’m for bringing him back but not just giving him a starting position. He needs to earn it by putting up numbers by tackling better and being more consistent. Until DJ becomes an impact 16 games in a season and not just one or two games out of a season he’ll never live up to being a 1st round pick.

  • January 4, 2010  - ED says:

    That being said good game by Johnson.

  • January 4, 2010  - pharmer says:

    I don’t understand the criticism of the coaching staff for not playing DJ more. Remember last year when he was moved to middle LB, the reason was because it might keep him focused on the game. He has a history of not being where he’s suppose to be. He needs to keep his head in the game. Being a great athlete does not make him a great LB. Hopefully this was the first of many great games for him and his role can grow.

  • January 4, 2010  - KC#9 says:

    I don’t think there is any way DJ comes back to the Chiefs. He will go somewhere and become a star. I always liked him and will hate to see him go.

  • January 4, 2010  - JohnNdallas says:

    Funny how Gretz (and to be fair, all the media in KC) ignore the fact Johnson wasn’t benched, he has gotten plenty of snaps this season and last season and the season before that… and he’s had what? Maybe 4-5 standout games in 5 seasons? And three of those I know for sure came against the donks.

    So bout the only thing Haley could do differently, to motivate Johnson into a FULL time, every down player would be to have a donkeys logo painted on his face shield.

    Dave nailed it! “Johnson was supposed to be blitzing”… but Bob and all the other mouth pieces, ink stained wretches, and hair dews conveniently leave that comment out.

  • January 4, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    I agree, johnson had a good game, lucky he made that play, if your out of position and just do whatever you think the qb is going to do, than you wont last long and thats what he does. If it was payton manning, he would have picked him apart all day long….good qbs dont always “stare” his recievers down.

    Good game dj, but you have a lot of work to do and your comment about how you were supposed to blitz proved it!!

  • January 4, 2010  - aPauled says:

    “I was actually supposed to be blitzing on the other side, but I read the quarterback and he was looking down on his receiver really hard and I got in front of it.”

    Guys this isn’t pee-wee football. NFL players, esp. LBs, are trained to read and re-act. DJ read the play. Re-acted. Scored. That is what he is supposed to do, not mindlessly blitz when he makes another read.

  • January 4, 2010  - big vess says:

    Instinct guessing is the word for DJ whether its good or bad he has that habit of guessing where the play goes. To me it seems like he audibles himself like a quarterback even though his assignments are assigned he just likes to guess. I would like to see him play more discipline football and that something he always lacked.Very talented has the ability to be great hopefully when Crennel comes in he can work with him closely.

  • January 5, 2010  - Lenny says:

    the only time orton saw dj on that play was when he was blitzing, orton made a quick read and dj bounced off the blocker and followed his eyes. good heads up play, the kind of stuff that will earn a starting spot back. he just needs to give that same effort all game. he saw just as much time that game as he has been all season, we just don’t ever see it because he’s not doing anything. hell they gave him a shot to earn it back against jacksonville, he was with the base d all second half, and he didn’t do a damn thing with it. had like 2 tackles the whole game.

    that being said, every time im ready to give up on him, he has a great game and reminds me why i love him. i think we will bring him back after this game, hopefully he’ll bring good effort into training camp and earn a starting spot.

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