Few things in life, like wine, are said to get finer with time. The game play of Chiefs LB
Despite the 17-9 loss to the Broncos on Sunday, Johnson made his presence felt early, as in the game’s first two plays. DJ made sure every ounce of his 6’3, 242-pound body was felt by Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno during both plays (a two-yard gain, followed by a four-yard loss).
Johnson and the Chiefs defense limited Denver to 17 points, the first time all season that the Broncos have been held to fewer than 20 points and it was the fewest points that Denver has scored since Kansas City limited the Broncos to a field goal in a 7-3 Chiefs victory in the final game of the 2011 season (1/1/12).
Johnson, who turned 30-years old six days ago, has 841-career stops, fifth best in team history. Last season, he set a Chiefs single-season record with 179 tackles (131 solo) and during the 2012 campaign, DJ leads the team with 92-total tackles (81 solo).
But Johnson will be the last person to tell you his numbers, at least until his playing career is over.
“I’m trying to get better as a player, trying to be consistent as a player and when you do that, you kind of don’t worry about the individual accolades. At the end of the day, at the end of my career, I’ll look back and see how many tackles I have, see how many interceptions, see what production I had but at the time while I’m here, I’m trying to help my teammates win, that’s my main goal and to take care of my body because that’s my money maker,” Johnson said.
In the fast-paced, high-impact game of football, many factors have enabled DJ’s motor to run at the same high-capacity now as when he inked his first deal with the Chiefs in 2005.
“You have to be mentally prepared for games in-and-out of weeks. You have to be a pro. You have to take care of your body. Mentally, you have to be on because as many plays as linebackers make, they make them from anticipating what’s about to happen,” Johnson admitted.
The former First-Round pick (15th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft (Texas Longhorns), Johnson continues to climb the record charts, where one day he could become the team’s all-time leading tackler, surpassing LB Gary Spani.
CHIEFS RECORD BOOK FOR CAREER TACKLES
1. Gary Spani, 999 (tackles)
2. Art Still, 992
3. Deron Cherry, 927
4. Donnie Edwards, 883
5. Derrick Johnson, 841
Who better to talk about Johnson’s continued performance than the all-time tackle leader himself, Spani.
“I think Derrick has the body type and has shown the type of durability to play 12 (or) 13 years in the league, as long as he continues to have that kind of mental passion for the game; that would put him between 1,200 – 1,300 tackles.
I’ve always thought Derrick’s strength was his speed, along with his great instinct for making big plays, but he has really impressed me with as he’s gotten older and has begun to lose a little of that speed, he actually, in my opinion, is playing faster this year because he’s become a great student of the game. I think he shows a great knack to read a play and make it 2nd and 12 or 2nd and 10, where it then becomes more evident to put the offense into passing downs for the 2nd and 3rd down, which become a great asset to his defense and team,” Spani said.
Johnson is just one of three linebackers in NFL history to score two TDs on two INT returns in a single game, resulting in a 44-24 win at Denver in 2010. More importantly, the Waco, Texas native was voted by his teammates as the Derrick Thomas Award winner last season, which is given to the Chiefs Most Valuable Player, proving wherever DJ goes, they’ll follow.