It’s All-Day D.J. … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Much attention has come to ILB Derrick Johnson for his role in the Chiefs goal-line stand against the Raiders last Sunday in Oakland. One tackle, two tackles, part of a third tackle and then the deciding fourth stop.

It was an impressive string of plays. I would be a major upset if the NFL does not announce on Wednesday that Johnson is the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his 13-tackle, goal-line stand performance. It should be the third such honor of Johnson’s career. UPDATE: upset it is, as teammate CB Brandon Flowers was named the AFC Defensive Plaeyr of the Week for his performance against the Raiders.

Simply, there was not a defensive player in the conference that had a performance that came close to what Johnson got done against the Raiders. That’s why head coach Todd Haley dubbed him “56 all day.”

“That was probably one of the best games I’ve seen him play,” Haley said. “As good as he’s played, he keeps getting better and it looks like he can continue that. Just a terrific, terrific afternoon by him, especially on those plays down at the goal line.”

But the best play that Johnson made came before the goal-line stand, right before. If it wasn’t for his hustle and athletic ability, there never would have been a 1st-and-goal play at the Kansas City 5-yard line.

“What he did at the goal line was great,” said CB Brandon Carr. “But what he did when he ran down (Michael) Bush was the play of the game. If he doesn’t do that, there’s only a touchdown, no goal-line stand and they are back in the game.”

SS Jon McGraw agreed.

“He never gave up on that play,” McGraw said. “That he could stop him that far down the field was all you need to know about what drives him. His motor is always on.”

It was a 1st-and-10 play at the Chiefs 40-yard line just less than a minute into the second quarter when the Raiders ran over left tackle. Here’s what happened:

  • On the left side of the Oakland line, G Stefan Wisniewski was able to handle NT Kelly Gregg one-on-one, shielding him from becoming part of the play.
  • LT Jared Veldheer and TE Kevin Boss buried DE Glenn Dorsey with a double-team block.
  • RG Cooper Carlisle pulled to his left, went down the line and took OLB Tamba Hali out of the play.
  • FB Manase Tonga led Bush through the hole and blocked ILB Jovan Belcher and with that hit also kept SS Jon McGraw out of the play.
  • Bush found the big opening without a hand landing on him. He burst through the hole, and then began angling back towards the middle of the field and away from CB Brandon Carr who was closing fast on his left.
  • FS Kendrick Lewis came up and missed the tackle, getting just part of his right leg.
  • But Lewis’ missed tackle slowed Bush down and chasing from behind, Johnson finally caught up with the running back right around the 9-yard line.
  • Johnson went high around Bush’s shoulders to secure the tackle and forward momentum carried the two players to the 5-yard line, setting up 1st-and-goal.

“I wanted to go at his legs a couple of times when I was chasing him, but I knew the odds weren’t good that I would get him down without some power,” said Johnson. He had come as far forward as the 39-yard line before he reversed field and started chasing after Bush.

“He got the head start, but I was finally able to catch up.”

Teammate CB Brandon Flowers couldn’t believe he got there.

“I was down field and a guy was blocking on me and I tried to turn to get away from him and when I got back around, there he was pulling him down,” Flowers said. “I didn’t know where he came from.

“Then you watch the tape and see how far down the field he chased him. That was a helluva play.”

In the Oakland game, and most of the games played during this 2011 season, Johnson has not done much chasing from behind. He’s been explosive in his pursuit, blasting through gaps in the blocking front and running into ball carriers head on.

That’s what he did so well on the goal line, where he made the tackle on first, second and fourth down. Those plays had his head coach calling Johnson a “missile.”

“A couple plays down there he really was a difference maker,” Haley said. “The one run off our defensive left side looked pretty bleak for a couple steps and you saw this missile shoot through and knock everybody down; a really great, great play.”

Haley always talks to his players about stacking good practices on good practices, good plays on good plays, and good games on top of good games. Right now, Johnson is stacking remarkable plays on top of remarkable plays, and there appears to be no ceiling on how high that pile of plays may go.

Johnson’s stat line for the season is not impressive on the black and white of a page. He’s been credited with 61 total tackles and leads the team. But he’s not had a sack, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble or grabbed an interception.

The obvious big plays have been at a minimum. But there’s no stat line for tackles made 30 yards down the field, or stops at the goal line.

“It was one my better games,” said Johnson. “I think I’m capable of playing even better. I wasn’t perfect. I got so much help from the defensive line. They did a great job of allowing me to use my athleticism to make some nice tackles.”

10 Responses to “It’s All-Day D.J. … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 26, 2011  - Dennis Schrader says:

    I remember in Herm’s last year the Denver game here and how DJ was just stellar. But then he would disappear for games on end. No consistency.

    The way he has played last year and this year is a great testament to how good a coach Haley is. I think DJ is likely headed to the Pro Bowl this year.

  • October 26, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I think DJ continues to prove that he is more than worth of the huge contract he got. Can’t say the same for Tyson Jackson. Where was he sunday??? Invisible once again. Look at his stats from sunday. Lots and lots of zero’s.

  • October 26, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Johnson seems poised to reach the potential he demonstrated occasionally to this point. If he maintains that level consistently the best is yet to come. He’s seemingly becoming our defensive leader at perhaps just the right time.

  • October 26, 2011  - ED J says:

    Totally Disagree Chuck. If you watch the game Tyson played another good game. He got few QB pressures the Kelly Gregg sack doesn’t happen if he doesn’t make Kyle scramble around like that. Also remember in 3-4 defense defensive line aren’t going to put up great stats its the linebackers. If you look at Steelers defense guys like Casey Hampton are not putting up great stats its their job to eat blocks. I seen Tyson eating up 2 sometimes 3 block on Sunday which allowed rushing lanes for DJ and Belcher to make plays.

    As for DJ good to see him finally start to live up to all the potential he’s shown over the yrs. He’s emerging as one of the true leaders on this team and defense. Hopefully he gets a pro bowl nod this season so Chiefs fans make sure you get out and vote this guy in.

  • October 26, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Brandon Flowers won the defensive player of the week. I would have given it to Johnson, but Flowers was good also.

  • October 26, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    Johnson had a game for the ages. Few men past or present have ever come close to matching his stellar performance this past Sunday. The 5 consecutive plays Bob eludes to should be packaged and marketed to all athletic programs from pee-wee to the pros. I can’t imagine a better teaching or motivating tool for those wanting to be the best at what they do.
    The fact of the matter really boils down to this. The media likes flash & dazzle. Brandon Flowers clearly had more of that than DJ. My congratulations to him.
    The extraordinary thing that DJ did in my mind was 10 fold that of Flowers. In 5 ordinary, consecutive plays DJ literally stole the breath & soul of 70,000 rabid fans. Brandon Flowers simply pissed them off & quieted them down… Need I say more.
    Go Chiefs.

  • October 26, 2011  - el cid says:

    Jackson did a good job last sunday. Without his efforts Gregg would still be looking for his first sack of the year.

    Not a Jackson fan because of position in draft, but he is improving, it just took a longer time than expected.

    DJ need to play big on MNF. Thought he was more important to defensive effort than Flowers. But he will get his day if his efforts continue.

  • October 26, 2011  - Justin says:

    I am with Cid and ED J, Jackson’s contributions are there but slow in coming. DJ really desrved the award.

  • October 26, 2011  - Blake says:

    Yeah I don’t know what gave Chuck was watching, but Jackson really impressed me. I think that was the first time I remember Jackson beating his guy one on one so easily and almost getting the sack. He was actually getting some pressure on the QB in that game. Jackson has definitely stepped up his game year to year…

  • October 26, 2011  - ED J says:

    Yea it took Dorsey his 3rd season before he came on I mean it took Tjax basically the same amount of time surprise some of you expected him to do it any faster than what Dorsey did. Big ups to the o-line too. They’re looking like they’re gaining confidence they basically kept Cassel clean all game and opened up some good rushing lanes. Compared to last yr against the Raiders it was night and day.

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