Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson made some waves on Monday when he proclaimed via ESPN, in reference to the New England Patriots‘ defense, that “I don’t think they have anybody to stop me. For real. I think we have guys in the receiver room that are as good as I am, if not better. I just have that confidence in my teammates and in myself.” A lot has been made about those comments yesterday and they seemed to have gone viral, being reported on Sportscenter, Total Access, etc. While it is a bold claim how true is it exactly? Let’s take a look.
In six games vs. the Patriots Johnson has 29 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns. That’s an average of 4.5 catches and 56.5 yards per game. Not exactly gaudy numbers, but considering Johnson didn’t start playing full-time until 2010 and the numbers don’t look so bad. If you take away the game he played in his rookie season as a special teams player out of the averages things look a bit better – five catches for 67 yards. Not eye opening and the three scores are a low number for a No. 1 receiver like Johnson in the series, but I don’t think you can say that the Pats’ defense has ever shut down Stevie cold. His worst game against the Pats came last September when he caught only two balls for 23 yards. Not surprisingly his best game against the Pats was the lone game in his career that the Bills won in September of 2012 when he caught eight balls for 94 yards and a TD.
Should he have made the comments? Probably not, but does it really matter? I’m not a big believer in bulletin board material, and if the Patriots’ secondary has some holes in it (and they probably do) the lone motivation from Stevie’s comments aren’t going to make them any better. As for people poking fun at Johnson’s mention of former Pats S Patrick Chung as if he were still on the team – Pats HC Bill Belichick just a few years ago was singing the praises of former Bills WR Josh Reed on a call with the Buffalo media. The problem was that Reed was a full season removed from playing his last NFL game. Players and coaches study the defensive scheme and the coaches make player adjustments on game day. Either way the talking will be done on the field on Sunday.