Steve Johnson has been the consensus No. 1 receiver in Buffalo for years now. While he has been able to distinguish himself with his play, he also has had the unfortunate handicap of catching passes thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick for the majority of his career. That changed last April when the Buffalo Bills drafted quarterback EJ Manuel in the first round following Fitzpatrick’s release.
So far, that move has been nothing but good for all parties involved. The Bills’ receiving corps is loaded with young, athletic talent, and while the unit has shown plenty of promise, they are still very clearly adjusting to playing in the NFL. That’s not the case for Johnson, however, who is coming off back-to-back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, and has so far provided exactly the type of reliable veteran presence that Manuel needs as he continues to develop.
Johnson has been targeted roughly twice as much as any other Bills receiver this season, and his chemistry with Manuel is already apparent. The fact that Johnson has managed to record 1,000 yard seasons every year since 2010 is impressive, especially considering that he has never been paired with a top-tier quarterback.
However, that may no longer be the case. After a near upset of the New England Patriots in Week 1, Manuel stormed back against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 with an 80-yard touchdown drive to put the game away in the final minutes. He capped it off by connecting with Johnson on a two yard TD pass with 0:02 remaining in the game.
Manuel and Johnson are quickly getting a feel for how to play with one another, as Manuel’s strong arm and accuracy are proving to be a matchup nightmare when combined with Johnson’s superior route-running ability.
This is excellent news for the Bills, as the team finally seems to have the type of one-two punch that has become a trademark of elite NFL offenses.