Johnson 'did what we asked'
The game was over, but Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson wasn't done working. He had one thing left on his agenda. After the Bucs' 33-14 loss to the Eagles, Johnson roamed the field in search of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
"I'm trying to build a relationship with him so I can become a better quarterback," Johnson said. "I tried to pick his brain a little bit. I mean, we lost the game today and that's the frustrating thing, but I did get to talk to him and that was a good thing."
It wasn't the only good thing Johnson did Sunday. One week after appearing relaxed but tentative in his first career start, Johnson played with more confidence and more aggression against the Eagles. His performance drew rave reviews from many, including Eagles coach Andy Reid.
"I really like that quarterback," Reid said. "He's a smart kid. We were putting a lot of pressure on him and he hung in there and threw it to the right spots most of the time. I think things will work out well for him down the road."
They will if he can get some help from the players around him. After watching Johnson complete 26 of 50 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns, that was the assessment of Bucs coach Raheem Morris. "He used his feet well and he took chances downfield; he did what we asked him to do," Morris said. "He executed a couple of two-minute drives well, but we have to help him more."
Johnson got plenty of help from Kellen Winslow. The Bucs tight end and leading pass catcher caught nine balls for 102 yards and both touchdowns, including one that came on a fourth-and-9 play in the fourth quarter.
But receivers Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant combined to drop at least three balls. The number stretches to four if you include a deep throw that went off Clayton's fingertips two plays into the game. "At the end of the day, the man moved the ball up and down the field for us consistently," said Bryant, who caught five of the 11 balls thrown to him for 62 yards. "We just have to make plays for him."
Johnson wasn't about to lay any blame on his receivers. He believes he was just as much at fault for the offense's struggles as he threw three interceptions and fumbled a snap on a fourth-and-1 play in the second quarter.
"I'm extremely disappointed in myself right now," he said. "Three turnovers - two in the red zone. That can't happen. We had opportunities to capitalize on things and we didn't do it. But overall I felt a lot more comfortable today. I knew what I did wrong last week and I worked on it all this past week in practice and I think that showed a little bit."
Roy Cummings, The Tampa Tribune 12 October 2009