Inside The Bills

Impact of Stevie’s schedule

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2013 – 5:10 pm

Stevie Johnson will no doubt be spending time with his family this week to mourn the loss of his mother after she passed unexpectedly at the age of 48 last weekend. How long he’ll be back in his native California is unclear at this time and head coach Doug Marrone did not feel it necessary to share any details at this time.

“We know that Stevie is going through a personal tragedy,” said Marrone Monday. “He’s been great as far as his communication. When it affects, whether it’s practice or the team, I think we’ll go ahead and report it, but right now we don’t have anything to report on it.”


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Team rallying behind Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2013 – 10:39 am

Bills WR Stevie Johnson made the decision Sunday to play against Jacksonville, despite getting the news of his mother’s unexpected passing the day before. Keeping that news to himself until after the game has earned him added respect in Buffalo’s locker room from teammates that are ready to prop him up at this difficult time.

Team captain Fred Jackson, in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said they’re ready to help Johnson through this difficult time in any way that they can.

“I know I just speak for all my teammates when I say we really appreciate him for doing what he did (Sunday),” said Jackson. “That’s got to be one of the hardest things in the world to do trying to move past the death of your mother. We really do appreciate him for coming out and sticking with us. All we can do is ask him what he needs from us.

“We’ll just kind of pick his brain for what he needs from us to help him through this. He’s going to need us. That’s why he was out there yesterday. The best way to deal with something like that is going where you’re comfortable, and being a football player the best place to go is out on the football field.”

Jackson heard about the time coach Marrone spent with Johnson on Saturday after getting the terrible news and said he would not have expected anything less from their head coach.

“With coach Marrone he’s a guy who has been where we are. He knows the grind that we go through. He knows what we put ourselves through week in and week out. He’s more of a personable coach,” Jackson said. “He’s a coach you can approach and talk to about anything and that’s just an example of it.

“He wants to be kept in the loop of what’s going on with us. He doesn’t want us to keep our personal lives from him. He wants to give us the advice that he feels like he can to help us through any situation, whether it’s football or personal for something going on at home. He wants to be a part of it and that’s when you know you have a coach that you love to play for and that’s coach Marrone for us. Guys wouldn’t expect anything less with that conversation he had with Stevie because that’s the kind of coach he is.”


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Stevie focused on winning, not Revis

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2013 – 10:53 am

Stevie Johnson is one of the more successful receivers in his matchups with Bucs CB Darrelle Revis, from their biannual duels when Revis was with the Jets. But Johnson isn’t focused on his matchup with Revis. He’s more focused on getting a road win Sunday.

“I feel like Revis is Revis,” said Johnson. “I don’t need to say too much about him. He’s an elite corner. My worry, my main concern is getting a win. That’s the main thing. I’m not really worried about the matchup.”

When pressed to comment on what he thinks about the matchup with Revis over the years, Johnson again made it clear getting a win for the team will be the priority this week.

“I know we’ll be competing,” he said. “I feel like we’ll match up more times than not.  And when we do, we’ll see who’s the better man throughout the game.  Once again, my main concern is to try to get a win, not an individual person.”

Revis is expected to play after he practiced fully on Wednesday. He left last week’s game against Carolina early with shoulder and chest injuries.


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Stevie only fueled by critics

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2013 – 5:57 pm

The backlash Stevie Johnson experienced in the wake of his late game fumble might discourage a player of lesser stature, but that’s not the case with Buffalo’s top wideout. If anything the criticism has been used as fuel.

“It makes me work harder.  It wakes me up,” said Johnson. “I feel like sometimes things may happen. I appreciate that the fans, the fans that saw the game, they’re real for the most part. It’s just a wakeup call.”

Johnson said he didn’t need a wakeup call, but is ready to rebound from it.

“I take it for what it is. I’ve been there before,” he said. “I’ve touched the ground before.  You’ve just got to climb and get back up.”

After Sunday’s game Johnson said he got himself straightened out and is focused on improving his play moving forward. He was again getting extra pass game work in with EJ Manuel after practice Wednesday.

Johnson met with head coach Doug Marrone this week, who wanted to check in on him to make sure he had moved past his late game miscue.

“Yes, we did have another meeting,” said Marrone. “Again, you guys have to appreciate and respect that my meetings with the players are private, but it’s the same thing.  What I’m trying to do is push this team forward, okay, making sure that when we look back that we learn from those mistakes, whatever they may be, and I’m not talking about just Stevie Johnson, I’m talking about all of us, so we can keep pushing this team forward and keep plugging away, so we can still have progress even though we’re disappointed with the season, numbers, win‑loss.”

“I’m good,” said Johnson. “I was good then. Can’t knock a guy making a play, he’s the NFL also. I’ve got to be better in that situation.  There are things I could have done to secure the ball in that situation, knowing that we just need a field goal.  But I’m cool. The fans send their shots, which is necessary and the climb continues, I just have to get back on top.”


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Revis a question mark for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2013 – 12:41 pm

He worked all offseason to come back from an ACL injury in 2012. Over the last few weeks Tampa Bay CB Darrelle Revis has been dealing with a few nagging injuries, and has exited each of the Bucs last two games early. It leaves him as a question mark for Sunday’s game with the Bills.

Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano was downplaying Revis’ latest ailments, a shoulder/chest injury suffered last Sunday against Carolina when his head and chest hit the turf hard at the end of a play.

“Darrelle, I think, is going to be OK,’’ Schiano said as reported by the Tampa Tribune. “Initially he came off the field and he had some pain in his upper torso area. Then they examined him inside. I don’t think it’s that serious, but we’ll see.’’

Revis had just returned from a groin injury suffered against Detroit the week prior. He did confirm he hit his head on the turf, but Schiano said he was unaware of Revis suffering from any concussion-like symptoms.

Revis has had his share of battles with Stevie Johnson, who unorthodox route running has given Revis problems at times.

The Bucs did lose LB Jonathan Casillas for the rest of the season Sunday when he suffered a knee injury late in the loss to Carolina this past weekend.


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McKelvin: Don’t lay game on Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2013 – 1:30 pm

Leodis McKelvin is all too aware of the public backlash directed at Stevie Johnson after his fumble late in regulation that cost Buffalo one of their two chances to win the game. But as McKelvin sees it the game wouldn’t have been tied at 31 without Stevie Johnson either.

“(Expletive) happens, for real, for real,” said McKelvin in reference to Johnson’s fumble. “You can count the pass he caught earlier in the game, a couple of those third down plays he made earlier in the game,  we may not have been in that same situation that we were at the end of the game.  You just can’t point out that one play.  It is what it is, we’re all human beings.  Things just happen, you’ve got to bounce back from it. We can’t just hold our heads down we have to keep fighting forward.  If  you’re a man that’s what we’re going to do.  That’s what we’re going to do and the guys, they’re going to do it.”

McKelvin believes the way to get on the right side of these close games more often is to come out on top on more of the smaller battles within the game.

“You’ve got to win more of your individual battles.  That’s it, point blank period.  You’ve got to win individual battles.
Guys got to step up.  Somebody’s got to make a play.  One of the 11 guys out there on the field got to make a play. If anybody makes a play you try to feed off all that energy, try to make sure we’re doing the right thing to get off the field on defense, or stay on the field on offense.  Those guys just have to jell together and work as a team, that’s what we have to do.”


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Way game unraveled is what had Stevie ticked

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2013 – 10:50 am

Stevie Johnson was naturally ticked off about his fumble late in the game. He knew the significance of it right away. But the way the game unraveled for them at the end preventing them from winning the back and forth contest was the real issue for him.

“Just given the situation I was frustrated,” said Johnson. “Not necessarily with the (fumble) play because it’s the NFL, he’s in the NFL also. Initially I got off and beat him and he came back and made a play on me. That’s football. He made a good play and I’ve got to live with it. I saw it on the big screen and you’ve got to chalk it up to a good play and hustle.”

Johnson and Chandler both had good technique in tucking the ball away on their fumble plays. Falcons defenders just made better ones as they see it.

“Once again with those plays, mine and Scott’s you catch the ball 100 times and tuck it the same way,” Johnson said. “It’s not like the ball was loose from our bodies and Scott’s was up here. It just happened to be a good play by the defender.”


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Chandler, Stevie come to grips with fumbles

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2013 – 1:57 am

The Bills had a chance to win their back and forth game with the Falcons Sunday at the Rogers Centre late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. But fumbles on back to back possessions ultimately led to a game-winning field goal for Atlanta. For Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler the circumstances were tough to bear.

“It hurts,” said Chandler. “You hate to let the fans down and you really hate to let your teammates down.
But that’s part of the game. You want to make all the plays and you want to finish all the plays the right way. I just didn’t do it that time.

“It was a great throw by EJ [Manuel] out in front and I put the ball away. I didn’t get my hand underneath it enough and the guy hit it right on the ball and just knocked it loose. Really disappointing. Obviously you want to be able to protect the ball in that situation. And you want to make a play that helps your team win and not the play that really turns the tide to make your team lose.”

Stevie Johnson, whose fumble came late in regulation with the team within yards of a game-winning field goal attempt, took his miscue especially hard.

“Yeah, I was just running with the ball,” said Johnson. “I knew we were down there and had the game
sealed and he came from behind and made the play, a helluva play.”

 

We want to bring this town, this region the playoffs,” he said. “To know that kind of slipped away on that play is tough. But that’s part of what we do. We’re putting ourselves out there. If you want to be a guy who is making plays for your team then you’re going to have to deal with the disappointment when you don’t make a play.”


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Fan Friday 11-29

Posted by Chris Brown on November 29, 2013 – 12:05 pm

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving Bills fans. Here is your latest edition of queries on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris
Long time Bills fan from Sacramento. First, thanks for all your hard work, you and John Murphy are a great team. You guys are my only source for my Bills fix until Sunday. My question is about the D-fence. With the Bills being bad against the run once again, why not put Alan Branch in the middle full time with Dareus. I know we want to change things and be multiple, to keep the offense guessing and confused. But it seems like we are setting the edge much better this season with Manny and company. Just curious on obvious running downs why not keep the bigs in the center.

Thanks
Jake B

CB: Hopefully you’ve seen that the run defense has improved. A big reason why is because Branch, who has stepped into Alex Carrington’s role as the five-technique (line up opposite outside shoulder of RT) is effectively holding the point of attack on run downs.

At times Dareus has been lined up at end, but that’s been on pass downs at times. With Dareus and Williams working so well off each other inside, it makes more sense to keep Branch at the strong side end position.

 

2 – Chris

As you watch the Bills games and other NFL games, do you believe the best way to build a team is to put almost all of your salary cap into the offense?  We are built to run right now and put money into the defense (which I am happy about) but if a defensive back touches the receiver- illegal contact, pull a jersey-pass interference, hits too hard – defenseless receiver 15 yards.

I now would have put the money into Andy Levitre or would attempt to draft or gain the best free agent offensive lineman in football and get blue chip receivers, tight ends.  I hope the NFL doesn’t think this arena style football is that great to watch.  It’s irritating to know that it’s this unbalanced for the defense.  The defense isn’t there to stop the offense, just slow them down until the clock runs out.

Thanks – TM

CB: I don’t debate for a second that the rules are slanted toward the offensive side of the ball, but to put the majority of your cap resources into your offense is foolish. Yes, it’s an offensive game, but that’s all the more reason to have a defense with the talent and ability to shut opponents down.

There aren’t too many one-sided teams that have won it all in the NFL. Perfect example is the 2007 Patriots. One of the most dominant offensive teams in NFL history did not win the Super Bowl. That was partly due to the fact that they were facing a team that had the defensive talent to shut them down. In the end the more balanced team won the NFL title that year.

 

3 – Hey Chris,
What’s up with K Dan Carpenter? Are the Bills happy enough to resign him to a longer contract or will they go with the injured rookie draft pick with the big leg next season?  Are we in for another kicker competition at SJF next summer?

Thanks
Lou

CB: There’s no question that Carpenter has been rock solid for Buffalo’s kicking game. There is essentially no book on Dustin Hopkins at this level. If Carpenter could be re-signed at reasonable money I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him competing with Hopkins at next year’s training camp.

 

4 – Chris,

Just wondering with the bye week this week and some weaker teams coming up, do the bills look past teams like Atlanta and Jacksonville and start preparing for the patriots or the big rivalry with the dolphins? And now that E.J. is back in the grove of things is he allowed more freedom to change his plays at the line of scrimmage?

Ron G
St. Catharines, On

CB: I think any coach or player would tell you that the minute they look past the opponent they have that week is the time when you lose a game you’re not supposed. The level of importance for each game in a 16-game schedule is so high that no team, coach or player can afford to look past any opponent.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

I have recently been reading a couple of your responses to fan posts about the possibility of adding a big (or taller) receiver to our WR corps. which brings me to a question. If we need a big receiver why didn’t we keep one of the two that we had in David Nelson or Brandon Kaufmann? Nelson wasn’t a great receiver but had proven to be useful in the red zone & has since proved to be a target for the Jets . Brandon Kaufman was talked about in the preseason to have very soft hands & he also was a taller WR that with some experience could have been put to good use in the red zone & other places.

I know that one of the WR we have now would have had to been let go more than likely & to this point TJ has been pretty inconsistent when it comes to depending on him to make the tough catches (talking prior to the last game of course) so he would have been & still would be my candidate to have let go to keep either of the 2 I have asked about especially seeing as Easley has become a ST ace .

I also know that Stevie has been fighting injury this year so his production hasn’t been that good, but if his numbers were so good at the outside position what was the reason to try him in the slot given the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” question . Because prior to this year when we had Roscoe usually the smaller WR was used in the slot & Goodwin had a very good showing in that position last week . Once again I turn to your expertise to clear up some of my questions & again I thank you for your time & what you do to keep us all informed !!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: When it comes to adding a big receiver to the roster I think that is something they are looking to develop rather than acquire via a big investment either in the draft or via free agency. Buffalo has a few “big” receivers on their practice squad and I-R. Kevin Elliott, a player I was impressed with in the spring camps, unfortunately tore his ACL, and is on I-R, but goes 6’3” 205.

Tommy Streeter (6’5” 215) and Cordell Roberson (6’4” 205) are a pair of practice squad receivers, who would add some big time size to the receiving corps.

I’m not expecting Buffalo to heavily invest in a big wideout via the draft after using 2nd and 3rd round picks this past spring.

Perhaps if some of their practice squad prospects do not develop as they hope they could sign a veteran WR with size that’s affordable.

As for Stevie’s production I blame it primarily on the very in flux situation that occurred at QB with the injuries at that position and the learning curve that EJ Manuel traveled until recently.


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Stevie and Marcell autograph signing

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2013 – 2:45 pm

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Bills WR Stevie Johnson and DT Marcell Dareus will be making an appearance north of the border Friday where they’ll be available for autographs.

Johnson and Dareus will participate in a Q&A session hosted by Sportsnet’s Ken Reid for 45 minutes.  Then the players will sign autographs for fans for one hour. They’ll be at the Real Sports apparel store at 15 York Street in Maple Leaf Square at the corner of Bremner Blvd. and York between 5 and 7 pm.


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Marrone had long talk with Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2013 – 3:26 pm

Stevie Johnson is a receiver who wears his emotions on his sleeve, especially during games. So when things have not gone as planned some Sundays it has led to palpable frustration for the Bills top wideout. Head coach Doug Marrone revealed that he had a long sit down with Johnson to feel his receiver out a bit and understand what was bugging him.

“I had a long talk with Stevie about the challenges coming in, with a young quarterback and then the injuries and the different quarterbacks,” said Marrone. “When EJ was healthy, Stevie wasn’t. When Stevie was healthy, EJ wasn’t. You play with different quarterbacks and it’s very difficult. I told Stevie, I said people are going to look at the end of the day and say this is down, this is down, this is down, and they’re really not going to look at the whole situation.

But he’s  a productive player. One that, when you keep practicing together, you’re just going to see his numbers go higher and higher.”

Johnson sounded satisfied with the talk he had with his head coach and made sure to point out that his frustration lies with the overall lack of success of the team in win-loss column, not his personal stats.

“Just talking to him I was telling him it was frustrating because our team is really good,” Johnson said. “Looking around the locker room and the names we’ve got and being out at practice with these guys there’s talent here. Then getting these losses that we have that’s where the frustration was coming in at and that’s pretty much what our conversation was.”


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Stevie on The John Murphy Show

Posted by johnmurphyshow on November 20, 2013 – 5:30 pm

He says he’s optimistic about returning to the lineup for the Bills next game. Tonight, Stevie Johnson will talk about his status when he appears on The John Murphy Show.
Johnson missed last Sunday’s win over the Jets with a groin injury suffered the prior week against Pittsburgh. It was the second game Johnson missed this season after he went three consecutive years without missing a game.

Stevie told reporters this week his groin is getting better and the bye week comes at the right time for him.

“With my situation it’s definitely a good time for the bye week,” he said. “Get another week to try to strengthen my core and get these little nagging injuries out of the way. Hopefully I can come back and make a strong push for these next five.”

We’ll talk one on one with Stevie tonight when he joins us in studio at 730pm on The John Murphy Show, airing weeknights 7-9pm on the flagship station of the Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550. It also airs in Rochester on ESPN950AM


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Stevie: I’ll be a go for Atlanta game

Posted by Chris Brown on November 19, 2013 – 10:49 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone indicated on Monday that he felt Stevie Johnson would be ready to return to the lineup in Week 13 against Atlanta after missing last Sunday’s game with a groin injury. Johnson confirmed that assessment Tuesday.

“I’ll definitely be suited up. I think I’ll be much better than what I was this past week,” said Johnons. “I’m optimistic about it.”

Johnson will be staying in town through the bye week to continue his rehabilitation work to get his body in top form for the stretch run of the season.

“With my situation it’s definitely a good time for the bye week,” he said. “Get another week to try to strengthen my core and get these little nagging injuries out of the way. Hopefully I can come back and make a strong push for these next five (games).”


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Stevie, Woods expected to be ready post-bye

Posted by Chris Brown on November 18, 2013 – 4:22 pm

Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods were both unable to play in Sunday’s win over the Jets. With the benefit of the bye week this week however, head coach Doug Marrone is fully expecting to have both receivers back in the lineup in Week 13.

When asked if Johnson and Woods would be good to go coming off the bye, Marrone gave a terse response.

“I do, yes I do,” he said.

Johnson is recovering from a groin injury suffered at Pittsburgh in Week 10, while Woods has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 9 against the Chiefs.


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Stevie out for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2013 – 12:14 pm

Wide receiver Stevie Johnson has been declared out for Sunday’s game By head coach Doug Marrone.

More details to follow it Buffalobills.com.


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Bills have other options if just 4 WRs Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2013 – 2:48 pm

With Robert Woods already declared out and Stevie Johnson pretty iffy going into Sunday’s game with a groin injury, Bills head coach Doug Marrone is going to be a bit shorthanded at receiver against the Jets this weekend. When asked if he intends to elevate a receiver from the practice squad, Marrone indicated that would not a consideration this week.

“We talked about that, but no we’re not going to go in that direction,” said Marrone. “Obviously T.J. and Marquise have played quite a bit. We have Hogan. Easley played last week, and has done a nice job and played in the preseason. We have three tight ends now that have been active. We have two fullbacks that are active and one of them can run well. We have other options to turn to.”

Buffalo’s offense began to incorporate rookie TE Chris Gragg in the passing game and may give some time to recently signed H-back Evan Rodriguez.

Another option could be C.J. Spiller, who has been used at receiver in the past when injury has struck the position.


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Marrone: Not ruling out Stevie yet

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2013 – 1:50 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone provided an update on Stevie Johnson’s availability for Sunday now that he’s missed two straight days of practice.

“Obviously Stevie has missed two days and I don’t feel good about him being able to play, but I can’t officially rule him out yet,” said Marrone.

Johnson is dealing with a groin injury suffered last week.


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How can the offense rediscover its rhythm?

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2013 – 4:07 pm

The Bills offense has some stuff on its to-do list after last Sunday’s game. Finding its rhythm will require some positive plays. Realizing that stringing together eight to 10-play scoring drives all game is a bit unrealistic for where the Buffalo offense is at right now in terms of development, Stevie Johnson believes just a persistent, gutty performance could be enough to get them over the hump this Sunday.

“We just need one of those gritty football games, like the Miami game where we pulled it out and came together,” Johnson said. “That’s just what we need right now as a team to get one of those tough games and win, whether things go good and bad and know we can overcome it. We get one of those games and try to figure this thing out.”

The Bills didn’t run the ball well against the Dolphins back in Week 7, but made just enough third down conversions, got a couple of key takeaways including one for a score and it was enough for their first and only division win so far this season.


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Stevie injury update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2013 – 12:39 pm

Stevie Johnson was diagnosed with a groin injury after Sunday’s game when he left in the second half and did not return. Johnson gave an update on how he was feeling Monday.

“We’ll see what happens from here on out,” he said. “We’ve just been getting treatment. I haven’t gotten any official word on it. I just know it’s painful.”

When asked about his chances of playing on Sunday, Johnson felt it was too early in the week to make a call on it.

“I’ve got to get more work done,” said Johnson. “I just don’t know right now. I’ve got to get more work done and we’ll figure out later on in the week.”

When asked to compare his groin injury to the hip flexor and back ailments he’s dealt with this year Johnson described it this way.

“It probably feels a little worse,” Johnson said. “It’s one of those things where I seem to get hurt on anything. I’ve probably done more (this offseason) than any other season and I’m having these wild injuries and it’s happening on plays where I’m getting positive yards. It’s no fluke type deal. It’s football.”


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Stevie: My frustration is a 10

Posted by Chris Brown on November 10, 2013 – 7:00 pm

If Bills fans think they’re frustrated it pales in comparison to Stevie Johnson. After the team’s fifth loss in six games, Johnson is not happy that the team hasn’t been more successful.

“I’m just frustrated,” said Johnson. “I’m not discouraged by anybody on the team. It is a loss. It’s very frustrating. My frustration level is a 10. When you’re losing games nobody should be happy.”

Johnson also made clear it had nothing to do with the different quarterbacks.

It doesn’t matter who is at the helm,” he said. “We have got to be able to come together as a team. It’s not on one person or a couple players. This is a team game. We need to figure it out.

“We moved the ball but not enough. This is a step back because we got the loss. We are another week behind.”

Johnson finished the game with three catches for 48 yards. He also left the game late with a groin injury. He’ll be re-evaluated on Monday.


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