The Kansas City Chiefs were the worst team in the NFL in 2012 but there were players that managed to have productive seasons despite the chaos around them.
One of those players was Chiefs ILB Derrick Johnson.
The folks over at Pro Football Focus heave released their list of the top 101 players of 2013. Johnson was the first Chiefs player to make the list, coming in at a respectable #67.
Here is what PFF had to say about Johnson:
67. Derrick Johnson, LB, Kansas City Chiefs (28th)
While the Chiefs suffered a disappointing 2012, it wasn’t for the efforts of Johnson. As impactful against the run as any defender in the league, Johnson was as good as it gets finding his way to the ballcarrier. Whether he be working through traffic or shedding blocks, it was an exhibition of what makes a great run defender in the 3-4.
Best Performance: Week 10 at Pittsburgh, +5.9
Key Stat: His 60 defensive stops in the run game were the most of any inside linebacker.
Johnson was 28th last year so he had a significant drop off in his ranking. The problem for DJ is that Chiefs were so often trailing by such a large margin that it made things much for difficult on the defense.
I expect that if the Chiefs can perform better as a team in 2013, Johnson will be ranked higher on this list next offseason. It sounds crazy to think about but DJ is 30-years-old and will turn 31 in November. We have seen ILBs play at a high level into their mid-30s before but the reality of the situation is that DJ is turning the corner toward the final years of his career. Hopefully KC can win now, while Johnson is still able to perform at his highest level.