Why Stevie Is An NFL Number 1 Wide Receiver

Updated: October 2, 2013

Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on Sunday against the Ravens. I’m sure a single-catch-for-minus-one-yard stat line was not what Johnson was shooting for when facing the defending Super Bowl Champs at home a few days ago. But hey, it happens.

I’m sure most fans were disappointed in his performance and maybe even found themselves debating whether or not SJ13 is the Bills top wide receiver and could be a top wide receiver on most rosters. I’m dedicating this week’s Chalk Talk to explaining why Stevie Johnson is the Bills’ number one wide out and that he could be the go to guy on most NFL rosters.

Reason 1: Stevie Johnson is a versatile wide receiver.  During the end of the Buddy Nix Era, there was talk of moving Johnson from the outside in to the slot more often during games. This idea blossomed after Nix retired and Doug Marrone came in as the new Head Coach, replacing Chan Gailey. Stevie began to take more reps at the slot during training camp, a position that Johnson doesn’t mind playing.

“I can get past a DB, but why not put me inside and let me work with the linebackers and nickel guys and let our speed guys do work on the outside,” Johnson said during camp. ”We’ve got versatility in our room where we have the ability to do that.”

The move has proved to be very successful. In fact, Johnson caught the game winning touchdown Week 2 against the Panthers in the slot against corner D.J. Moore. Stevie also lined up in the slot on the successful two-point conversion earlier in the game.

Reason 2: Stevie Johnson has incredible route running skills. It’s hard to deny that Johnson is one of the best route runners in the league and often does not get the credit he deserves for his skills. The Kentucky alum is not the biggest receiver in the NFL, or the most physical receiver, but what he is, is elusive.

Early this year, Johnson’s “get off” move was featured in ESPN: The Magazine’s “Perfect Issue.” They titled it ‘The Crossover.” Essentially, depending on how the defensive back lines up against him, Stevie uses the basketball crossover move to get defenders off balance so he can get by them.

“As a kid, I’d practice lining up against my older cousin, and he used to tell me, ‘Be elusive. Do something to make me miss you.’ I was a basketball player so all I could think was, okay, let me try my crossover move. So I used it, and from then on he couldn’t stop me.” Johnson told ESPN. “In the NFL, guys don’t train for basketball receivers, so when I line up one-on-one against someone like Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman, I give them hoops moves. I don’t have the speed to burn right past defenders, but I know how to get open with quick jabs and shoulder fakes.”

Reason 3: Stevie Johnson IS the only resident on Revis Island. Everyone knows that Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis is the top corner in the game today. Sure you can debate that Seattle’s Richard Sherman is bettert, but who are you trying to kid?

When Revis was a member of the Jets, every game with Buffalo was one to circle on the calender because of the match-up between Revis and Johnson. Now if you asked people who they thought dominated the match-up, most would have said Revis. The reality, it’s Stevie Johnson. Johnson’s career stats against Revis are 23 receptions, for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns in five games from 2010-2012.

Those are pretty impressive stats for any receiver against the top shutdown corner that Darrelle Revis is. Revis used to laugh off the resident on Revis Island, but it’s pretty hard to ignore the success that Johnson has had over the years.