The Vikings enjoyed a dramatically successful season in 2009, advancing all the way to the NFC Championship Game after a 12-4 regular season and the franchise’s 2nd consecutive division title.
But all of that success didn’t shield the Vikings from criticism, as is typically the case in NFL cities.
One player on the team who received more than his fair share of criticism was S Tyrell Johnson. While attending the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit in Golden Valley last Friday, Johnson expressed to the Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad some frustration regarding the perception the media and fans had of his play.
“Actually, I played very solid,” Johnson told Zulgad. “The media, people have a tendency to remember the big plays that you missed. That doesn’t necessarily wrap up the whole season on what a player did. When I watched film on myself — just being a strong critic — I could have taken better angles on a few plays but overall [my play] was very solid.”
It’s clear to me that this is a source of frustration for Johnson because I talked to him about this same subject Tuesday afternoon in the Vikings locker room. Then I read Zulgad’s piece on Tuesday evening. On one hand you’d like a player to be oblivious to what the media and fans’ perceptions are of his play. At the same time, though, it’s good to know that Johnson clearly takes pride in his work and wants the passionate Vikings fan base behind him.
I asked Johnson if he was going to be around Winter Park over the next few weeks participating in the offseason program and he said “yes” without hesitating and then vowed that 2010 would be a breakout season for him.
In all fairness I do think Johnson received an unfair amount of criticism. As he admits, there were clearly times during the 2009 season when he missed tackles and didn’t make plays. Those instances should not be ignored and they shouldn’t be tolerated by the coaching staff (they weren’t tolerated by the staff, evidenced by the fact that Jamarca Sanford split snaps with Johnson near the end of the season).
But also remember that Johnson was in just his 2nd year during 2009 and his first year as a full-time starter. He improved from his rookie 2008 season to the 2009 season and he’ll likely improve from last season to this season based solely on experience. And now we know he’s a prideful player who is driven to correct the mistakes he made and shore up the Vikings pass defense.
Tags: Jamarca Sanford, Tyrell Johnson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 10 Comments »