Derrick Johnson taking leadership role with Raiders

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Derrick Johnson didn’t agree to terms with the Raiders until May 5, but already, the middle linebacker has taken charge.

“This Raider team really respects me,” Johnson said, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Once I say something, they kind of get it. My style isn’t too aggressive. It’s not that guy that’s in their face. I’m a big guy of lead by example, of course. But at times you have to speak up. You have to let them know what you’re thinking. You have to demand some things at times. Everybody is different, with different personalities. You can’t talk to everybody the same. I have to talk to [second-year pro] Nick Morrow different than [veteran] Bruce Irvin. It’s just a different type of deal.”

Perry Riley Jr. started 11 games at middle linebacker in 2016 and Navorro Bowman 10 there last year. Neither Riley nor Bowman started the season with the Raiders, with Riley signing October 4, 2016, and Bowman on October 17, 2017.

So Johnson’s late arrival wasn’t so late.

Johnson, 35, has worked overtime to learn new terminology after spending the past 13 seasons in Kansas City.

“He has picked it up real quick,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He’s able to get us in and out of defenses. When you’re at that point, the guy has been here for what, two to three weeks now, and he’s able to really understand what we’re trying to get to. To have a veteran piece that can kind of control the show out there is a big, important part for me.”

17 responses to “Derrick Johnson taking leadership role with Raiders

  1. Great pickup! His “leadership “ helped lower the Chiefs defense to 29th in the league last year, 4 spots lower than when he wasn’t on the field, and was hurt, the year before…

    I like DJ, cause we had him when he could actually play. But if you want to see a LB chase TE’s & RB’s across and down the field, trailing them but 5-10 yards.. You got the right guy.

    No animosity towards him at all. He was cut and free to sign wherever, but I hope he starts and plays a lot against KC. He’ll get some tackles on the run game, but he’s a complete liability on the passing game. Kelce and Hunt would have career days if DJ’s covering either.

  2. I’m a big guy of lead by example, of course.

    What’s the example?
    His tackles have gone down three years in a row- 116, 90, 71.
    Same with sacks- 4, 1, 0.
    He’s done, finished, kaput…and now he’s on a bad defense so I doubt those numbers go up.

  3. jbaxt,
    According to PFF, he’s excellent in coverage. I’d imagine he’s lost a step at his age, but I don’t believe he is done. He claims he’s fully healthy now, and has gained some of his speed back. And reports out of training camp say he’s looking really good, agile with enough speed. Assuming he stays healthy, I think he’ll prove people wrong and put up a fairly solid year. I think he’s out to prove the doubters wrong.

  4. Do you really expect the Raiders to say the truth? That Johnson is old and slow, but that they needed any kind of help cause KC OWNS the AFC West, and we cant cut him now cause Coach Gruden ignorantly said that he “stole” him from KC.
    The Raiders…….still the most clueless organization in the league….yes, even worse than the Browns

  5. The Raiders got a future Chiefs Ring-of-Honor athlete. I hate that he’s a Raider but I hope the best for him (except those 2 games, of course).

  6. Citing the decline in his individual stats is totally missing the point. The leadership factor he provides is huge. Let’s see where the Raiders D as a unit ranks before judging whether DJ is done or not. That will be the true measure.

  7. The leadership factor is the point you’re missing. He’s had Houston, Hali, Poe, Peters, and Berry for multiple years and he was on the middle of it all. And he never “lead” them to a top 15 defensive unit. And the last two years he’s been near the bottom of the league. But if you want a leader of a defense that was 29th… You got it.

  8. Jon Gruden needs a good leader in the locker room, so he can spend more time with the makeup artist before the game starts. What a ham.

  9. I never understood how a former LBer (MacKenzie) and a DC and HC who were also LBers (Del Rio and Norton) could be so horrible at identifying and coaching linebackers.

  10. The D ranking 29th last year is not on DJ, it’s on the coaching staff, so citing that in this discussion is just as irrelevant as proposing that it was his responsibility to lead the D to a top 15 ranking. Please. Have you thought for a minute where they would have ranked without him?

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