D.J. Makes It Happen … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s this week’s chicken or egg football question.

On Monday night, the star of the Chiefs defensive performance was LB Derrick Johnson. He had a dozen total stops, including 11 times when he was the primary tackler. He caused a big fumble that helped set up his team’s first touchdown.

Johnson was flying around the field, swooping in and making a big stop on Darren Sproles for a two-yard loss. He forced the fumble by San Diego’s Ryan Mathews by not giving up on the play and chasing it down from behind. D.J. was simply a force that the Chargers had trouble dealing with all night.

Now, did Johnson’s performance come because of all the trials and tribulations that he went through last season when he landed in Todd Haley’s dog house? Or was his big night built on the talents he’s always had and would have shown more often last year if given the chance?

“I don’t feel any vindication,” Johnson said. “I always knew what I was capable of doing. I always had confidence in myself. It was just other people that had to gain confidence in me.”

How could he not feel vindication? Last year he couldn’t get on the field, despite the fact he had the playmaking ability superior to just about everyone else on the roster. How does a guy go from getting defensive snaps only in the nickel defense, to being on the field for all 70 plays?

That’s what Johnson did Monday night. He started at inside linebacker on the weak side in the base defense. When the Chiefs went nickel, he was on the field, sometimes dropping into coverage, other times rushing the passer. He never left the field.

“That’s what I wanted,” Johnson said with a smile. “I wanted to start, I wanted to play and I wanted to help our team win.”

Somewhere in the middle of what was being asked of him by the coach, and what came naturally to him, Johnson reached ground that made both him and his head coach happy guys. That’s how he got back the starting job he lost last year to Demorrio Williams.

“That was my goal – to start on this team, knowing I could help us win,” Johnson said. “I worked hard. I’m still working hard. The hard work pays off. My faith in God pays off, so everything worked out.”

There was something about Johnson’s approach last year that did not work out with Haley and the then defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. He wasn’t in the kind of shape they wanted. He wasn’t as reliable and focused from play-to-play like they thought he should be. There may have been a sense of entitlement that came from Johnson, since he’d been a starter since his first NFL game and thought he should be again. And there was his easy-going manner, which is translated by some to a lack of passion for his duty.

So Johnson suffered through last season. He was constantly asked by the media, family, friends, even teammates why he wasn’t in the starting lineup. Johnson said he did not know and had not directly asked Haley what the problem was with his approach and performance. He just tried to keep working hard.

What Haley sought from Johnson was more. He wanted more commitment, more work, more availability and more reliability.

And for one night in September, Johnson produced that. He spent most of the night being where he was supposed to be in the defensive scheme. He was tracking the ball and moving with speed and quickness. He had prepared for the Chargers, studied as much tape as he’d ever done. Johnson had a good feel for what San Diego did, and the game plan that defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel had installed.

Now, he has to do it again with this Sunday’s trip to Cleveland. And again after that when playing San Francisco at Arrowhead Stadium, and on and on. Haley does not want roller coaster players and there have been times in his career when Johnson fit that description. He would have a game like Monday night, and then be hard to find the next week.

“I understand what I have to do,” said Johnson. “I’m preparing and I’m going out and trying to help us win games, no matter what it is they ask me to do.”


Because of the Chiefs approach to publicly speaking about injuries, we don’t know the extent of the problems that rookie LB Cameron Sheffield might still be having after the helmet-to-helmet hit in a pre-season game that put him in the hospital.

Sheffield spent only one night there after the hit in the August 27th pre-season game against Philadelphia. Haley went to visit him that night and found him sitting up in bed, eating a sub and when he was discharged that morning, everything seemed very positive.

“It ended up being it appears a best-case scenario,” Haley said two days after the game. “He’s in here today working out, moving around, all those things. It had a lot of us worried. It went from looking pretty bleak to looking real good and I’m just very grateful and thankful that it turned out that way.”

He appeared back on the field watching practice and riding the stationary bike for a few days, but he’s not been seen there or in the locker room for days now. The only information the team has provided is that he suffered a neck injury. Whether that means neck, spine is unknown. More than likely he may also be dealing with post-concussion syndrome.

Whether anyone should be worried about his long term prospects of playing in the NFL, we don’t know. What we do know is that he’s obviously having problems. Keep him in your thoughts.

Signed to the active roster was LB Charlie Anderson (right), a 6-4, 250-pound seven-year veteran of the league, having spent six seasons playing for Houston and Miami. Anderson has appeared in 92 games with seven starts. He has 61 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four recovered fumbles. The Mississippi native will be 29 in December.

Where Anderson will get playing time is on special teams. In six seasons, he has 66 tackles in the kicking game. He also blocked a punt in ’08 with the Dolphins that helped Miami win a key late-season game. And, Chiefs fans may remember him as the man who recovered Eddie Drummond’s fumbled punt in the second quarter of the 2007 season opener down in Houston. The Texans turned that into a field goal, and went on to easily beat the Chiefs that day 20-3.


  • AFC – Texans RB Arian Foster was named AFC offensive player of the week; Jaguars LB Daryl Smith was named AFC offensive player of the week; Chiefs returner Dexter McCluster was named AFC special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – Bears RB Matt Fore was named NFC offensive player of the week; Cardinals S Adrian Wilson was named NFC defensive player of the week; Packers K Mason Crosby was named NFC special teams player of the week.
  • BEARS – re-signed LB Rod Wilson.
  • BRONCOS – released RB Andre Brown.
  • CHARGERS – signed LS James Dearth; placed LS David Binn (hamstring) on the injured-reserve list, ending his season.
  • CHIEFS – placed OLB Cameron Sheffield (neck) on the injured-reserve list, ending his season; signed LB Charlie Anderson.
  • COLTS – signed S DaJuan Morgan, last with the Chiefs; released OT Joe Reitz; released CB Marcus McCauley with an injury settlement; S Bob Sanders had surgery on an injured biceps tendon and will be out for some time.
  • DOLPHINS – released LB Micah Johnson.
  • FALCONS – activated DT Jonathan Babineaux from reserve/suspended list.
  • JAGUARS – released WR John Matthews.
  • JETS – signed DT Howard Green; placed NT Kris Jenkins (torn left ACL) on injured-reserve list, ending his season.
  • PANTHERS – signed K Rhys Lloyd; released K Todd Carter.
  • RAIDERS – re-signed OT Erik Pears; released WR Yamon Figurs; released DE Jay Richardson and DE Alex Daniels with injury settlements.
  • RAMS – claimed LB Bryan Kehl off waivers from the Giants; placed LB Josh Hull (torn ACL) on injured-reserve, ending his season.
  • RAVENS – signed CB Prince Miller off the Patriots practice squad; released CB Bryan McCann.
  • SAINTS – re-signed CB Leigh Torrence; released LB K.C. Asiodu.

14 Responses to “D.J. Makes It Happen … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 16, 2010  - Michael says:

    Looking at the transactions, OT Joe Reitz has moved around quite abit the last few weeks. I’d like them to bring in Micah Johnson to the practice squad. Any chance Bob?

  • September 16, 2010  - Brandon says:

    Nice to see DJ step up into his role. I’m really looking forward to see what they have in the tank for Sunday against the Browns.

  • September 16, 2010  - RW says:

    Question for Bob. Is DJ a late-late bloomer or is he just now getting his head right after perhaps resolving some personal issues off the field?

    It’s good to see his potential realized against the Bolts but the true test beckons: Consistency.

  • September 16, 2010  - el cid says:

    It was easier to get up for MNF and the fan support on all Chiefs players. Can they carry that intensity to Cleveland? Haley and coaches have a real challenge sunday.

  • September 16, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    I’m sure all of us noticed the positive change in the Chiefs defense Monday night. Whether it be the packed & loud stadium, the weather, Romeo’s schemes or the national audience. Something was clicking with those guys. They looked mean, they looked fast, they looked energized, they looked like they had something to prove… Actually they looked Good, quite Good.

    I was proud of our defense for the first time in a long time. The front seven were working well together, no one was lazy or slacking off. The intensity & purpose of this group was impressive. How in the world can virtually the same seven guys from last years squad improve so much in one year. Sure, better coaching is a factor. Natural growth & experience would be another. I’m thinking something else is going on. I’m thinking the whole attitude of these guys has made a 180 degree turn from last year. Dorsey & Jackson seemed posessed for the first time ever. DJ was playing like he knew the Chargers playbook. Edwards, Smith, Gilberry, Vrabel & Belcher were playing as if they have been together for years. I’m thinking to myself, whoa, these guys can’t be our beloved Chiefs. What the hell happened to last years defense?

    I don’t really have any answers, at least not any that could be proved. But, I will say this. Todd Haley has his fingerprints all over it. Whatever he’s doing, it’s working, and Me, as a fan. I see it’s working too… Show-Me More.
    Go Chiefs.

  • September 16, 2010  - gorillafan says:


    I totally agree. I hope they can keep it consistant for the entire game, every game. IT wont happen until our offense keeps them off the field more. But I have a good feeling about our offense making more strides this year as well!!

  • September 16, 2010  - Dave says:

    Jimbo-I’m liking your post. I look at that post and I think you have something to prove, and I say to myself, “where has this quality of posting been?” I may not know the answer. But I don’t need to know. What I need is to see more of your friggin posts!

  • September 16, 2010  - Nate says:

    Look we would have to be stupid not to know that DJ’s play is a result of the way Todd Haley has handled him. He was here for 3 or 4 years before Haley got here. He showed up one game and disappeared the next. It is all on him that he didn’t start last year. He has always had the talent, he didn’t have the kind of passion and committment needed. He cheated himself, his teammates, coaches and fans. Nate

  • September 16, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Thanks Dave.
    Occasionally I have something to say worth reading.
    Go Chiefs.

  • September 16, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    Jimbo, good post, well said.
    Nate, agree completely, but we need to make sure he does it next week too, THEN we’ll know! We have to make sure he isn’t a yoyo player anymore!

  • September 16, 2010  - Merwin says:

    Jimbo, good post. I will say I was impressed by the defense and the way they were swarming to the ball carrier. It seems to me that this year all the players seem to be using the same play book and are focused and motivated. I feel a lot of it has to do with Haley and Crennel both coaching from the same play book. I just hope we see more of the same every week but with a little more offense.

  • September 16, 2010  - Edward says:

    IF DJ had been an consistent player for most of his career he would’ve never find the bench last yr. He had to realize just because he’s more talented than the guy ahead of him didn’t mean he should start over someone. All the talent in the world means nothing if its not coming to fruition on the football field. Hopefully he can put together a consistent 16games. Something he hasn’t done since being here in KC.

  • September 16, 2010  - Edward says:

    As for the defense play Monday. The crowd helped but if you looked at our preseason games you could tell with the starting unit that they were starting to click. Jus look at the Philly game. Or the Packers game.. Its obvious this defense is starting to gain an identity and play together.

  • September 16, 2010  - Ben says:

    I hope Sheffield is ok and he is back to compete next season. I thought he showed a lot in the preseason.

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