I'll keep this short and sweet. Derrick Johnson balled out last Sunday. This is a thread to celebrate the simple fact that the Chiefs have such a player on our team, the general of the Kansas City defense. When he plays this well, the Chiefs are capable of not only winning games on defensive effort alone, but of making NFL quarterbacks regret their choice in career.
No. 56 leads the team in 2016 in tackles (21) and sacks (1.0). 10 of those tackles came against New York, and six of them were on runs up the middle, ruining the Jets' run game and, in more ways than one, contributing to Ryan Fitzpatrick's ugly, ugly day. Often, Johnson could be seen motioning other defenders into the correct position, making adjustments.
It starts with the very first play from scrimmage. Jets WR Quincy Enunwa motions across the formation to a tight end slot on the left side. DJ waves Eric Berry down from the safety spot to get an extra body near the line. As Jets RB Matt Forte tries to find a hole, Johnson patiently waits and meets him with Frank Zombo for the stop after a 1 yard gain. Two plays later, it's Johnson and Zombo again, this time tackling Forte for a 2 yard loss. DJ dodges the center's block and penetrates to assist Zombo for the stop.
On the next drive, with a 1st and 10 from their own 21 after Fitzpatrick recovered his own fumble, the Jets again go to Forte, and Derrick Johnson is again there with the stop. After barking Justin March-Lillard to his left to prevent the off tackle run, Johnson eyes Forte after the snap over the middle. As the hole before him closes up, Forte bounces across the formation, and Johnson meets him in a relatively open field for the great tackle. 1 yard gain.
After forcing the Jets one play later into a third-and-long, thanks to pressure up the middle, the Chiefs again get pressure, collapsing the pocket, and causing Fitzpatrick to noodle-arm his first pick of the day to Marcus Peters. What's great about the ambiguity of that sentence is that it doesn't matter if I mean his first pick of the day to any Chief, or his first pick of the day specifically to Peters, who had two.
Four plays later, the Chiefs take the lead on a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. They never look back. DJ was there to stop the run-game early and destroy the pass-game later. He was everywhere.
Let's verify that claim in GIF form. Here he is in the second quarter, one play before New York's first fumble, again directing his line, shedding blocks, and taking down the veteran Forte after only a short gain.
My personal favorite comes late in the third quarter. The Jets have driven the field and earned a second-and-goal at the Kansas City five. A touchdown here and the Chiefs' lead is reduced to 17-10. No. 56 has other plans.
DJ had been doing excellent in coverage, giving up a mere 20 yards on seven targets according to Pro Fooball Focus, but on this play he passes off his running back obligation to Tamba Hali. After pointing Hali to pick up the flood route out of the backfield so that Johnson can stay in the middle, he hovers right where he needs to be to deflect a Fitzpatrick dart, which then helicopters its way into the hands of Eric Berry.
Speaking of excellent coverage against running backs...
That's a five yard loss, thank you.
And, of course, the coup de grâce, in which DJ teases Fitzpatrick into the Forte route, covers it perfectly, intercepts the pass running backwards, pirouettes, stays in bounds, and descends the field, dodging and stiff-arming his way to the endzone for a Kansas City touchdown and a 2-1 start to the season.
We gather together today to celebrate performances like this from football legends like Derrick Johnson.