All Eyes On Michael Johnson

September 4th, 2014
The eyes of the "Custodian of Canton" are focused on Bucs DE Michael Johnson.

The eyes of the “Custodian of Canton” are focused on Bucs DE Michael Johnson.

There is a lot of pressure on Bucs defensive end Michael Johnson. Tampa Bay dropped a whole lot of cash on him for one thing and one thing only: to dirty opposing quarterbacks’ jerseys.

(Yet, again, Joe was Twittered by a loyal reader insisting on invoking the name of Simeon Rice in discussing Johnson. Can we stop this idiotic trend? Joe doesn’t give a damn how much cash Johnson earns. Does anyone really believe he is a borderline Hall of Famer? How about let Johnson become the next Michael Bennett — who former Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik let walk away for no good reason — before we begin comparing Johnson to Rice, which almost made Warren Sapp throwup this summer. It’s not only stupid, but unfair to Johnson and a slap in the face to Rice.)

Of all the cash the Bucs dropped on free agents this past spring — and it was a boatload — perhaps no one will be in the cross-hairs like Johnson, noted the “Custodian of Canton,” eye-RAH Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune, when he held court with former Bucs defensive linemen Booger McFarland and Steve White recently on WHFS-FM.

“The most important Buccaneer in 2014 is Michael Johnson, in my mind,” Kaufman said. “I think there has to be concern, guys. Michael Johnson hasn’t made any plays. Yeah, I guess he scooped up a fumble. But guys, you have to make people pay for double- and triple-teaming Gerald McCoy. I mean, Johnson is going to get a lot of 1-on-1s this year. I think he is going to be a key guy.”

For those who have never read Joe type the following: Two years ago Johnson had 11.5 sacks. Last year, that dropped to a paltry 3.5. Johnson’s backers said that was because he was asked to do different things than rush the quarterback due to the injury to Geno Atkins. OK, fine.

There are people who live in the Tampa Bay area who want to run defensive end Adrian Clayborn out of town for his lack of sacks. He, too, was asked to do more than rush the quarterback last year (well, hello Darren Sproles) and Clayborn damned near doubled Johnson’s sack total.

Through training camp and the preseason, it seems Johnson has two moves: try to run around to the outside of the offensive tackle (which creates a monster hole inside of the tackle for a running back to punch through) or bull rush. It’s either one or the other.

Now to Johnson’s credit, if he has other tricks up his sleeve that he didn’t want to bust out and put on film for opposing teams to work on, that’s cool, that’s great. But Joe better see some of those come Sunday. If nothing else, for Johnson to keep the fans off his back and to free up GMC once or twice a game.

34 Responses to “All Eyes On Michael Johnson”

  1. mike Says:

    Agreed. Johnson must show up during game time.

  2. Patrick in VA Says:

    If gmc is double and triple teamed, doesn’t that mean the other2 guess on the line besides Johnson will be free to beat their 1 on 1 just as often? I mean, the extra bodies are coming from both sides and there are only so many guys on the line. I can’t imagine that Johnson is the only one that is benefiting and expected to perform at a higher level

  3. Espo Says:

    Let me just point out that Simeon Rice was almost non existent when he got here and then exploded. Once these guys get hot, they get unblockable.

  4. Matt B Says:

    Are you joking, Espo?! Rice was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro with the Cardinals before he came to Tampa! He was regarded as one of the top defensive ends in the league if not the very best as his All-Pro status suggested.

  5. Andrew 1 Says:

    A Simeon Rice he is not, and probably never will be. It is probably more appropriate to compare him to Bennett, who by the way also never eclipsed 10 sacks with the bucs, yet is mentioned time and again like he is some kind of missing link. The guy was above average, get off it already.

    Until proven otherwise, I have some serious doubts about MJ.

  6. phil Says:

    I just hope he can get a good hit on Cam’s ribs on Sunday.

  7. Matt B Says:

    Espo – my apologies. I read your comment again and I think you were referencing Rice’s first season in Tampa, not his performance prior to arriving here.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    So….every year going forward….all DEs will be compared to Michael Bennett…
    How about we compare our QBs to other Bucs in the past who have been let go.
    Doug Williams….MVP Superbowl
    Steve Young
    Trent Dilfer…..Superbowl Winner

    Shaum King….
    “Shaun King, one of two Buc Quarterbacks that lost a NFC Championship Game when his defense gave up 11 or fewer points.”

    And….shouldn’t it be AC that gets all of the sacks because of GMC’s tripple teams….after all he plays next to GMC….

  9. Espo Says:

    Thanks Matt. I remembering the criticism piling on him for the first quarter season or so and then he began performing like the all pro we signed. Johnson is obviously a different player but I’m just saying this mild preseason or even a lackluster start to the season should be used to indict him.

  10. Tom Edrington Says:

    Two types of guys in the league: There are guys who went out and proved they can play: the Mannings, Bradys, etc.

    Lavonte David is PROVING he can play but hasn’t gotten paid yet, but he will.

    On the opposite side of the equation, there are players like Johnson who get paid before they’ve proven they can play.

  11. biff barker Says:

    I’m pretty excited from the little seen of McDonald. He’s got the strength and push to make our interior a force.

    Point is both DE’s need to get off the ball.

  12. Buccanr1 Says:

    Espo, you better look up Rice’s stats again.

  13. Andrew 1 Says:

    @ Espo

    Great point. I completely forgot about that until you mentioned it. One things for sure, MJ has all the help he could ask for with guys like Lovie and GMC. Just going to have to wait and see how it all plays out.

  14. Architek Says:

    He better turn it up or Bucs fans will turn on him.

  15. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    Joe, The reason why we want to run adrian slowborn out of town while waiting for Johnson is because we have seen over 3 years of adrian slowborn not rushing the passer. if by 2-3 games Johnson is doing the same production to slowborn then we will want to run him out too!

    And Joe don’t act like slowborn’s 5.5 sacks is some kind of measuring stick! its terrible! and the worst thing is that he was never there first! If you ask me and a lot or “real” nfl analysts, the stat keeps have been kind at handing out full sack stats to mr. slowborn.

  16. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    This is going to be a challenging year for fans. I suspect the Bucs will win 10 games this year and everybody will be happy.

    But I think they may get six of those wins on the backside after stumbling a bit in the first half.

    I think this team has the potential to truly become a lot better as the season goes on. I think this team could be playing such good football in December that no contenders want to meet the Bucs in the playoffs. No I’m not saying the Bucs hit the SB or even win their first round game. Just sayin’ this team has real potential to grow and by the end of the year will be a quality team if not quite elite.

  17. Louis Friend Says:


    And yet you never mention Bowers. Why the lack of chagrin over that guy?

  18. Espo Says:

    Buccanr1, without taking too much effort, I see he had an impressive first year here. I’m talking about the first few games. It took him an adjustment period. Even the greats need that sometimes.

  19. DallasBuc Says:

    All well said Joe. It not like we don’t want him to be great it’s just that he hasn’t ever really been great. 11.5 sacks in a season is really good but to follow it up with 3.5 as a full time starter raises serious questions.

  20. ManzielMadness Says:

    @Patrick in VA

    It’s because we’re paying MJ almost $50 million to sack the quarterback, no one else on our Dline makes that much, except for maybe GMC who’s already produced.

  21. Legarrettes Blunt Says:

    I agree though, you can’t compare the guy to arguably the best pass rusher of his generation. I hate those type of comparisons. Even the Lavonte David to Derrick Brooks one bothers me. Let Lavonte be Lavonte, just because he is small and fast doesn’t mean he has to be Brooks

  22. biff barker Says:

    It’s human nature and the long suffering Buc’s fan’s prerogative to compare current players to past greats.


    Comparing LVD to 55 is reasonable.

    Comparing GMC to 99 is fair.

    Comparing MJ to Planet Simeon is a fools notion.

  23. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    @louis friend

    why would i waste my time talking about a third stinger??? thats lazy and low hanging fruit. Should we talk about how bad the third sting middle linebacker??? how about the emergency gameday QB skillset???

  24. Martinii Says:

    I think sacks are over-rated. Good Qb’s have a quick release and a lot of teams play a short passing game. To me I look at the results of the whole defense. Are guys getting a lot of coverage sacks? Pressure and disruption and of course run containment are what win games. McCoy had 9 1/2 last year which was great, but I think his value comes more from disruption. Johnson will be a great addition but not necessarily for the number of sacks he gets. That starting d-line looked very good this preseason and Johnson seemed to gel with the unit as a whole. Fans love sacks but games are won with pressures. Greg hardy was fun to watch, but Seattle won the Super Bowl .

  25. Jon Says:

    You crack me up Joe! Dominik found Bennett, don’t know why they didn’t resign him but he didn’t. That being said why didn’t L&L sign him? Instead they go with a soft and unwanted DE who all his previous coaches passed on!

  26. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    “There are people who live in the Tampa Bay area who want to run defensive end Adrian Clayborn out of town for his lack of sacks. He, too, was asked to do more than rush the quarterback last year (well, hello Darren Sproles) and Clayborn damned near doubled Johnson’s sack total.” – Joe

    Thank you, Joe!

    Fans always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It doesn’t matter if a new player is good or not, so long as he replaces someone on the roster (in their eyes), because they think change is always good.

  27. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Espo Says
    “Thanks Matt. I remembering the criticism piling on him for the first quarter season or so and then he began performing like the all pro we signed. Johnson is obviously a different player but I’m just saying this mild preseason or even a lackluster start to the season should be used to indict him.”

    You are 100% right. Simeon only had 1 sack before he arrived in Tampa and had only played in 8 games over 2 years.

    His first year in Tampa, he played in another 8 games and only had 2 sacks. His second year in Tampa he broke out and had 14 sacks in 15 games (I think he was rested for the playoffs in the last game, but not sure).

    Really, Simeon was a nobody when he arrived in Tampa, with no track record to speak of.

    Michael Johnson is currently nowhere near as good as Rice became. Maybe in the future, but not right now. I would say that, even though he did not have as many sacks last year, he is better than Clayborn…mainly because he has an 11.5 season to show for himself.

    But this is the year Clayborn breaks out, and everyone that wanted him run out of town will deny it. I’ve been in his corner the whole time, and I remain there this year. Players mostly don’t do their best until their 3rd or 4th year. This will be his 4th year, so its now or never. The fans should give him this year as well, because he actually has a decent sampling or work. Unlike Bowers, Clayborn has made the most of his opportunities and showed potential when playing. Bowers never has, and frankly I do not understand why he is even on the field.

    “The most important Buccaneer in 2014 is Michael Johnson, in my mind,” Kaufman said.

    That statement I completely disagree with. The most important player is the one who, if injured, the team suffers most from losing. That would have to be Gerald McCoy.

    If McCoy gets injured, the season is probably done.

    Johnson AND Clayborn are equally as important in my book. They should rack up sacks this year. I would wager Mason Foster is nearly as important as the DEs.

  28. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Buccanr1 Says
    “Espo, you better look up Rice’s stats again.”

    Practice what you preach. Rice sucked out loud his first year in Tampa.

  29. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    The_Buc_Realist Says
    “why would i waste my time talking about a third stinger???”

    Further proof that you don’t know crap about what you speak of. Bowers is a 2nd stringer.

    You have a double standard a mile long. You make claims that are untrue. You hide behind nicknames and insults to cover ignorance.

    Players need 3 full years to develop most of the time. Clayborn has no had his 3 years. Now he needs to produce, but don’t go claiming what he has done already wasn’t any good.

    He’s done better in his first 3 years than GMC did, in the same number of games. Just as McCoy broke out in his forth year, so should Clayborn. If Clayborn does not do well this year, then the Bucs should move on.

    As a fan, you should be hoping he does have a breakout year, but you would rather be right than see success within the team.

    For example, I believe Josh McCown, while not the best QB in the division, is the best QB on our roster. But if he goes down, do you think I would be hoping Mike Glennon does bad just so I can say I was right about him? Heck no. I would be hoping for success and trying to spot improvements (just as I do now).

    That’s why you suck as a fan and excel as a troll.

  30. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    “Clayborn has no had his 3 years.” = “Clayborn has now had his 3 years.”

  31. Jon Says:

    Realist is a troll.

  32. chris Says:

    Are you crazy Bonzai? He had 11 sacks hist first yr in Tampa, 15.5 his second. He was a beast in Arizona, a Monster in Tampa. Just look his stats up. He had one in Tampa, at the age of 32, his last year in Tampa.

  33. Espo Says:

    Break it down by game. He was off to a slow start before going on a tear.

  34. Thomas Says:

    ‘The good old years’ always seem better than they were. Rice was a beast in Arizona and he was good here for a time as well. However, he would get two sacks against a team with a very bad O-Line then vanish for three or four weeks until he could play another really bad line and get 2 more sacks.

    At the time people were calling up sports talk radio and asking why that was and they weren’t very nice about it. But now all we remember is a fondness for the good old days, and many of us tend to forget his sack habits.

    Look, we have been very low in the league on overall team sacks for a while now. If these guys can make it better then great. The more we get, the better our chances will be for a playoff appearance.

    Remember that we need to play the game, not yield and give up because of what we see on paper. Some of these other teams we will play are going to lose people. Important people. And they will have hardships as well. If we have less hardships than they do, we will also do well. Luck has a great deal to do with it.