December 23, 2010
He may be best known for the incident after a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in which he angrily Tweeted God after dropping five passes in the game, but Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson has become one of the most productive and efficient pass-catchers in the game. We recently got to catch up with Steve, talking about everything from his (abbreviated) high school football days to how he's helping the Bills become - if not a winning team - at least a team that can bring close games and surprise wins against better squads. This is part two of two; part one can be read here.
Shutdown Corner: The five drops against Pittsburgh - what is the main reason for drops for a receiver, and how do you overcome it?
Steve Johnson: Focus. It's focus. Some guys it's just simply focus. For me, it's like looking the ball all the way in, I'm ready to make the next move. That's how I get a lot of my yards after the catch, is just not worrying about the catch, because I know I'm going to make it, then just taking off from there, you know. So it's just more focus and looking it in and then making your move instead of trying to make that next move without looking the ball all the way in. And that's pretty much what it was. I was so focused on trying to have a real big game, and instead of letting the game come to me, I was trying to take over the game. I was thinking too fast, and that's pretty much what the problem was with me.
SC: You had no high school football program until your junior year, and you went to junior college out of high school - were you heavily recruited? Why JC?
SJ: What happened was I had a science class that I had taken in high school. It was a brand-new science class, and everything was supposed to be cool and everything. I ended up passing the class, and then once it was time to go on to college, they said the class didn't meet the requirements for my science credit. I had already graduated by then. They ended up saying that I couldn't go on to college, so I had to take the junior college route. Instead of fighting it, and taking however long it would've took, I just ended up going to junior college. Sucking it up, and going from Wyoming to Kentucky.
SJ: I talk to Chad. I haven't talked to Steve Smith, yet. We don't really talk about junior college and everything, but just talking with guys that have made it--like Donald Jones(notes), he's on my team, he ended up going to junior college, also--I mean, not everybody feels this way, but it's sort of a different lifestyle, you know. You go from buying everything for yourself to a university where you get things for free, and kids who come from junior college tend to appreciate that more. Like I said, I can't speak for everybody, but I know me, I appreciated it a lot. To go from junior college to division 1, I'm(?) trying to make the most of it. Some kid goes straight from high school to college and, you know what I'm saying, they're real lax. They take things for granted. I was one of the kids that didn't, and me and Donald Jones talk about that all the time. Like angry guys who end up dropping out of college because they're not focused and are taking things for granted.
SC: What made you choose Kentucky later on?
SJ: Well, I've always watched Kentucky basketball. I was checking out Tayshaun Prince dribbling the ball up left-handed, using that tear-drop. I don't know, there's something about that blue that made me fall in love with it, watching them play. I always thought the SEC was something special. The Florida teams, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina--I thought it was something special to play out there, so I was like ‘Hey, why not try an SEC team'. They ended up coming up by my junior college, and it was a wrap from there. I was already gone.
SC: You were a seventh-round draft pick - are you in the process of proving a lot of people wrong, or does that not really come up as a motivator for you?
SJ: I am what I am. They took me as a seventh-round guy. There's a lot of guys who I know that should've been drafted and wasn't drafted. So, I'm thankful for what I was drafted, you know, but at the same time I do use it as motivation. And when I go on the field, I just want to show ‘Ok, this is what you guys missed on, ‘This is what you guys passed on'. And also to show that there's guy out there who are seventh-round or lower and they still can ball out in the NFL, you know, so I just hold down with it.
SC: You're putting up some serious numbers - close to Bill Brooks' club record for touchdowns; on pace to have the most catches for a Bills receiver since 2006 - does the importance of this season hit you, or are you just taking it as it comes?
SJ: I'm just talking it all in stride. Nothing's really coming as a surprise to me, because I've been working hard as far as a receiver since going to the University of Kentucky, working with Keenan Burton(notes), Dicky Lyons(notes), and Jacob Tamme(notes), and Andre Woodson(notes). I've been working hard with those guys. Coming into Buffalo, I've learned from Josh Reed(notes), Lee (Evans) of course, and Roscoe Parrish(notes)--some great receivers and I just felt like the time will come. And when I get my chance--they always told me ‘Hey, be ready. Because you (inaudible) have some shine in this league', so it's not really coming as a surprise. I'm just trying to get everything that's coming ahead of me.
SC: You've talked about your own scoring being far less important when your team is losing - what do you think the Bills need to do to get over the hump and into contention?
SJ: At first, we were just a group of guys with talent that was just trying to play a game. We show up on Sundays, let's show ‘em what we got. That's all it was: Let's show ‘em what we got. But now since we've been playing in those games with those tough, tough teams, them top teams, we're coming to three points, two points, overtime losses, and it's like ‘Hell, we can play with these guys'. Let's go into these Sundays and have the attitude ‘We're going to win this game' instead of just ‘Let's show ‘em what we got'.
Let's go in and tell them ‘We're going to win this game', with that kind of confidence, and coach Gailey is really (inaudible) ..that we can play with these guys. We can with these guys. Not only can we play with these guys, we can win this game. That's the thing that we're getting out of this season. We know that we can win these games, and hopefully it just keeps rolling and we can turn it into next season to something nice.
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