Johnson: Playing in the slot has been 'a change for me'

October 12, 2018 - 7:31 am

It certainly has been a weird season so far for the Buffalo Bills defense.

For the first one-and-a-half games, the defense looked like a shell of what is was supposed to look like coming in to the season. Since the second half of their game against the Los Angeles Chargers, they’ve seemed to have flipped a switch and have become one of the top defenses in the league.

As of right now, they need to be almost perfect while they’re bringing along rookie quarterback Josh Allen in order to have a chance to win games. You could see it in last week's win against the Tennessee Titans. They were flying all around the field, pressuring Marcus Mariota, and really just made life miserable for him. The Bills also forced three turnovers in the win, picking off Mariota once and forcing two fumbles.

Rookie cornerback Taron Johnson helped contribute to the win as he was the one who picked off Mariota in the second quarter. He's quietly had an impressive start to his season, but has been overshadowed by the play of the team's two main rookies in Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.

Working mostly in the slot position, the Weber State product has been able to match up very well with a lot of good receivers so far this year. He will continue to be tested a lot this season as teams will try to throw away from Tre’Davious White, who has turned into a very good shutdown corner in the league. So there will be a lot of opportunities  for Johnson to make a play. You could see it last week on his pivotal interception against the Titans.

“I just kind of read the quarterbacks eyes, and based off of how our defense is supposed to be played," Johnson said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Thursday. "So I just read the quarterback’s vision and he happened to throw the ball right where I broke.”

Read and react. Seems simple enough. Transitioning to the nickel spot on defense may have not been as simple for him, but he’s been able to adjust and make some nice plays.

“This has definitely been a change for me.” He stated. “I haven’t played that much [slot]. In college, I was mainly an outside corner. Here, I’m just playing inside. I’ve learned a lot about the nickel position, and I just want to master it the best I can to continue making plays.”

Now let’s remember that he is still a rookie. There may be times where he could have a tough day. This week may be one of those examples as he faces a big challenge in the Texans' wide receivers corps. He most likely won’t line up against DeAndre Hopkins, that battle should be reserved for Tre’Davious White. Will Fuller V is also a game changer in his own way with good size, route running ability, and speed.

Keke Coutee is one matchup Johnson could have a lot and possibly have success against. Coutee is right around the same size as Johnson at 5’ 11” and 180-pounds. He is a very shifty wide receiver coming out of the slot and will use his quickness to get away from his defenders before they can try and get physical with him. He’s had two solid games the last two weeks, getting over 100 yards against the Colts, and he also caught a touchdown pass last week against the Dallas Cowboys.

Johnson does have the ability to keep with him and somewhat negate him. If the Bills' front-seven are able to attack a Texans offensive line who’s struggled to help their star quarterback Deshaun Watson, they may force him to throw the ball when he doesn’t want to and allow Johnson and the defense to make some plays on the ball.


Comments ()