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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    [size=13pt]Just Passing Through[/size]
    Vikings' Johnson Gets the Job Done at QB, Plain and Simple

    By Mark Maske
    Washington Post
    Staff Writer

    Thursday, September 7, 2006

    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For most of his 15-year NFL career, Brad Johnson has been the quarterback that teams settled for, not the one they chose. He was discarded by his original team, by the team he took to its first playoff appearance in seven years and by the team he helped to a Super Bowl title.

    He won everywhere he went. He was always the ugly duckling of a quarterback, the guy who wasn't drafted high enough, didn't move gracefully enough and didn't throw hard enough.

    But when Coach Brad Childress took over the Minnesota Vikings this past offseason and determined that the organization couldn't coexist peacefully with its franchise quarterback, Daunte Culpepper, he didn't hesitate to trade Culpepper to the Miami Dolphins and entrust his offense to Johnson.

    "You could do worse," Childress said here last week, "than a guy that's won a Super Bowl and played in a few different systems and seen a lot of stuff come down the pike. . . . I think it's really important to know who you are and what you're good at, and not think you're somebody different. I think he knows himself, and I think his tools fit in as well with this system as anybody."

    So Johnson is a starting quarterback again as he and the Vikings ready for a new season that begins Monday night at FedEx Field with a game against one of Johnson's former teams, the Washington Redskins. Johnson is in the fourth act of his NFL career, back with the team he was with during act one. Then, he was a lowly ninth-round draft pick out of Florida State -- in the days when the draft had that many rounds -- simply trying to carve out a pro career. That was before he went to the Redskins for act two and became a Pro Bowler, and before he headed to Tampa for act three and became a Super Bowl champion with the Buccaneers.

    His name doesn't come up in most conversations about the best quarterbacks of his era. Yet he has succeeded wherever he's been, compiling a 65-43 regular season record as a starter and becoming the first NFL quarterback to complete at least 60 percent of his passes in 10 straight seasons.

    "I don't say anything outspoken," Johnson said. "I don't run around trying to make highlights every week. But in the end, I feel like I give my team a chance to win, completing passes and everything like that. All that speaks for itself. In every organization I've been in, on every team I've been with, it's been very similar every year. I think when it's all said and done, if you want to compare it with other quarterbacks, either the quarterbacks of today or the quarterbacks from the past, it will be more appreciated when I'm done than as a straight-up highlight guy now."

    Johnson, who turns 38 next week, is working for his sixth head coach and in his fifth offensive system in the NFL, by his count.

    "Having to move from place to place, that's been unfortunate," he said last week, sitting on a balcony that overlooks the Vikings' indoor practice facility. "But when you play 15 years, you're going to move. It's going to happen. It happens to coaches. I've seen six ownerships. I've seen three ownerships just here with the Vikings. I've seen coaches traded, with Jon Gruden. I've seen players cut and traded. That's just the nature of the whole deal, especially in this era."

    His latest rebirth as a starter was not what he expected when he signed with the Vikings as a free agent in the spring of 2005. He had been released by the Buccaneers and was looking for a team that would give him an opportunity to be a starter, but he couldn't find one. So he returned to Minnesota as Culpepper's backup. If he couldn't be a starter, he at least would go to a city with which he was familiar and play for a team with an offensive system he knew well. Culpepper was coming off a 2004 season in which he'd been one of the league's most valuable players, and the Vikings entered last season with Super Bowl aspirations after an offseason in which they'd traded wide receiver Randy Moss but supposedly upgraded their defense significantly.

    The club lost five of its first seven games, however, and was beset with controversy after several players, including Culpepper, were accused of lewd behavior during an October party aboard two cruise boats on Lake Minnetonka. Enter Johnson, who took over at quarterback after Culpepper suffered a season-ending knee injury. He played in his usual unspectacular but steady manner and the Vikings started winning, going 7-2 the rest of the season and nearly making the playoffs.

    "He puts you in situations where he's not going to gamble," Vikings tight end Jermaine Wiggins said. "He's not going to give the game away. He's a guy who's been to a Super Bowl and won a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback, so he has the knowledge of the game. He's just one of those leaders, one of those great character guys."

    The late-season revival didn't save the job of former coach Mike Tice, who was fired by Vikings owner Zygi Wilf moments after the season-ending game. Wilf hired Childress, and the former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator extended an olive branch to Culpepper by praising the quarterback during his introductory news conference. But Culpepper apparently wasn't interested in mending his relationship with the Vikings, reportedly asking for his contract to be upgraded even after a season in which he'd suffered a serious knee injury and was charged with two misdemeanors (charges that later were dismissed) stemming from the boat cruise.

    The Vikings traded Culpepper to the Dolphins for a second-round draft pick, ridding themselves of their onetime franchise quarterback a year after they'd banished their onetime franchise receiver by trading Moss to the Oakland Raiders.

    "This is the NFL," Vikings center Matt Birk said. "Crazy things happen. It's just the nature of the game. There's different situations surrounding each of those two guys' departures, unique circumstances to each of them. If you hang around this game long enough, nothing surprises you."

    Former Vikings owner Red McCombs, who sold the franchise to Wilf last year, said in a telephone interview last week that the team should not have traded Culpepper.

    "I think they made a terrible mistake letting Daunte go and getting almost nothing for him," McCombs said. "I think he's one of the top five quarterbacks in the league. He's a good team guy. We brought him along and developed him. I don't think they should have traded him. But I do think Brad Johnson will do a great job. He'll give them some good leadership."

    Childress clearly does not regret the decision. "You hate to let good players leave," he said. "But I'm going to wish him the best of luck. I'm sure he likes where he's at right now, and I'm okay with where we're at."

    Johnson must learn Childress's version of the West Coast offense, which the quarterback says is slightly different than the version he ran in Tampa when he was coached by Gruden. The Vikings tried to improve their offense in the offseason by signing tailback Chester Taylor and guard Steve Hutchinson as free agents. But the wide receiver corps is highly suspect, especially after Koren Robinson was released 10 days after being charged with drunken driving and fleeing from police during training camp. And there's no real Plan B at quarterback, so the Vikings must find a way to keep Johnson healthy and in the lineup.

    It's a status -- being regarded as an irreplaceable player -- that Johnson rarely has experienced. He sat on the bench for his first four NFL seasons before getting a chance to be the Vikings' starter, then lost the job to Randall Cunningham in 1998 after getting hurt. He was traded to the Redskins before the '99 season. He'd been the Redskins' second choice, as they completed the trade with the Vikings only after failing to re-sign free agent Trent Green. But he threw for more than 4,000 yards in his first season in Washington and got the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time since the '92 season. No matter. The Redskins signed quarterback Jeff George as a free agent before the 2000 season. George was added as a backup but Johnson was miffed by the move, and he grew increasingly resentful toward Redskins owner Daniel Snyder when the team failed to sign him to a contract extension.

    Johnson left the Redskins via free agency following an injury-filled season in 2000, then landed in Tampa and won a Super Bowl with Gruden in his second season with the Buccaneers. But even that didn't provide long-term job security, as he was released following the 2004 season. Johnson says he thinks the Buccaneers could have handled his exit a bit better but he has no hard feelings. He's moved on, and they've moved on. It's been the way of his career, and now he makes his third return trip to the D.C. area to face the Redskins since leaving them. The other two games came while Johnson was with the Buccaneers, and he says the grudge factor isn't high on his list of priorities entering Monday's game.

    "It was a long time ago," Johnson said. "I was grateful for that opportunity when I got to go there. I felt like we put up winning numbers the first year and second year. . . . Some things were out of my hands, and I moved on."


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    A guy that keeps doing his job to the best of his ability regardless of the circumstances.
    A lesser man would have been discouraged and given up.
    Sometimes it takes a while for the cream to rise to the top.

  3. #3
    Boyum is offline Training Camp
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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    At least we are righting a wrong from 1998 when Denny traded Johnson.
    I would take Johnson anyday over that big dummy down in Miami.

  4. #4
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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    brad has never gotten the recognition that he really deserves as a quarterback, he is one of the best, he will prove that this year too that he can and will get the job done, he is one of the most accurate passers and smartest quarterbacks in the league, he will spred the ball all over the field, he is also a big plus in help teaching jackson when the time comes for jackson to step in....
    I BLEED THE COLOR PURPLE

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    sleepagent is offline Hall of Famer
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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    I for one like the Brad JOHNSON story.
    Here's a guy that just barely gets drafted and really never becomes the coverboy of the NFL, but all he does is win.


    Incredibly high completion percentage, wins playoff games, wins a superbowl, and has a career winning game percentage.

    He doesn't get it done in a flashy style . . . but an ugly win is still a win!

    "No Greater Friend . . . No Worse Enemy. U.S. MARINES"
    "FIND YOUR PASSION AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!"
    "SUCCESS LOOKS EASY TO THOSE THAT WEREN'T THERE WHEN IT WAS BEING ACHIEVED!"

  6. #6
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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    very well said and i know this year he is gonna show and prove ONCE AGAIN that he can play and win, i hope he shuts alot of critics down
    I BLEED THE COLOR PURPLE

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    TeamSoftware is offline Rookie
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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    Brad Johnson reminds me of Cris Carter. When the Vikings signed Carter in '90, he was really not very flashy or overly hyped. Carter was not the fastest, tallest, most physical WR in the league. Cris simply ran beautiful routes and caught passes. Just like Johnson is not the fastest, biggest, or does not have the most powerful arm in the league. Brad simply takes what is given and keeps the offense on the field.

    Remember Carter, "All he does is catch touchdown passes". All Johnson does is win games. Something I am certainly looking forward to after the frustrations of the "high caliber", high turn over, offense of the past.

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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    very good point and comparison, i liked that and look at where that high calibur, high turn over and not to mention, high dollar offense for just those two got us, i am also looking forward to this year, it will be a great year for us and a very big improvement from previous years..last year was just a beginning for us when brad took over...now he will begin where he left off and finsh it for us
    I BLEED THE COLOR PURPLE

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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    In the past I used to worry when we were 14 points ahead with 5 minutes left on the clock because I knew we were going to turn the ball over at least 2 times. Now I feel I do not have to worry as long as we are close or ahead because we can control the ball better.

    What game was that when we allowed the other team to score like 31 points in 2 minutes?

  10. #10
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    Re: Brad Johnson: Just Passing Through

    you sure that was our game..31 points in 2 minutes, i dont really recall but would also like to know...
    I BLEED THE COLOR PURPLE

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