It may be with a bit of tongue-in-cheek that I say this but, it looks like the Chiefs have every intention of starting Rishaw Johnson at the Right-Guard position in 2014. And, I have to say, I’m not at all surprised.
Now, basing your whole decision on one game, the last San Diego game, would be foolish at best. However, Andy Reid and his staff have had the opportunity to observe Rishaw Johnson on the practice field since the beginning of last season (and before) and I have a good idea that they’ve been playing their hand out this past season, with a card up their sleeves. That card would be Rishaw Johnson… and his performance in the San Diego game only confirmed what they already knew: Rishaw Johnson is a stud.
So, I went back through every play R. Johnson was a part of in that game and you’ll find that re-cap below. However, before we get into the particulars of that game I want to share further what I’ve come to see as the vision for the Chiefs offensive line in 2014.
Firstly, Eric Fisher is the Left Tackle. Now and in the future. The Chiefs didn’t draft him number one overall to leave him on the right side. The Chiefs aren’t paying him the big bucks to leave him on the right side either. Now, you’ll get no disagreement from me that Fisher left something to be desired last season. However, it was clear to most who were paying attention that Fish progressed greatly over the course of the season and needed an offseason of weight training and film room and play book study. Yes, Fisher came in saying he would play whereever the Chiefs wanted him to but his destiny as a first round selection is Left Tackle, let’s not kid ourselves.
UPDATE: If you can’t live with the idea of Eric Fisher being the Chiefs Left Tackle this year, you better contact Andy Reid directly because just yesterday, Ben Nielsen revealed that Andy Reid has named Eric Fisher his Left Tackle when the Chiefs go to camp.
That designation allows the rest of the pieces to fall in place. Stephenson to Right Tackle, Hudson to Center, and Allen (for now) to Left Guard. Some have suggested that Eric Kush played so well in the San Diego game that he might get a look at the Guard spot. The Chiefs need a back-up Center too much to do that at this point. Plus, if the Chiefs have come to the realization that they can use Kush at Guard then they have an interior swing-man but will still need a swing-man for the tackle positions because Stephenson will become a regular.
Rishaw Johnson (RJ) in the last San Diego Game
Most of the time Rishaw Johnson was pitted against Kendall Reyes, a defensive lineman that the Chargers drafted in the second round in 2012. So, Reyes has had 2 full seasons to mature and should just be coming into his own. And yet, as you’ll see, R. Johnson owned him for most of the game including a pancake early on.
#75, Rishaw Johnson, 6-3, 313, Guard, UDFA by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012
#91, Kendall Reyes, 6-3, 300, DL, 2nd round pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2012
Please note, most Bolded text is a positive play for Rishaw Johnson. The Underlined and Bolded plays are his pancakes. The RED and Underlined and Bolded plays were bad plays on his part which there were very few of. Almost all the plays in this game were either, plays of no consequence on his part or plays of a positive contribution.
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Charger’s DL Kendal Reyes, whom Rishaw Johnson faced most of the day, had 2 tackles and 1 sack in the game. The sack came on a spin move and was well deserved. It was a nice move. Reyes has had 62 tackles in two seasons so he averages 2 tackle per game. Consequently, the two tackles that Rishaw Johnson allowed him were right in line with what any average veteran would have allowed Reyes. Assuming that Rishaw Johnson has more room to grow, he should only get better than this performance against Reyes.
However, Rishaw Johnson had three pancakes in all and over half the plays he participated in were positive plays for him. The sack that Rishaw Johnson allowed was followed by 4 to 5 consecutive positive plays on his part. That’s always a good sign, when a young player makes a mistake, to see them come right back and make some plays of their own and not let down.
Arrowhead Pride suggested a week ago that Rishaw Johnson was “ready to go” and cited a Twitter conversation the a Houston Radio sportscaster named Lance Zierlein was having with a blogger. If this was a conversation a blogger was having with a local K.C. sports announcer, I might just tie it to a bias and mostly ignore it. However, since this was taking place with a Houston based sports talk show host, I thought it could be worth a look-see. The single twitter message that Arrowhead Pride referred to was only part of a much larger conversation Zierlein was having so, I took the relevant pieces of that conversation and posted them below. In Twitter, the conversation structure stacks the most recent comment on top but , here, I have reversed the order, so you can see — from top to bottom — how this chat evolved,
Lance Zierlein has been a sports editor since
the age of 12 and is currently a sports talk show
personality for KMBE 790 AM in Houston Texas.
This non-homeboy take and unbiased analysis may be right on the money. So, far, their talk about Albert, Schwartz, Asamoah and Allen… as far as I’m concerned… have hit the nail right on the head. There’s so much we’re not privy to with respect to G Rishaw Johnson however, we should pay attention to the relative values the Chiefs brass are expressing in the choices they have made this offseason. They didn’t choose to sign Geoff Schwartz, they signed Joe Mays. Would you rather have Joe Mays or Geoff Schwartz? Knowing what I know, I’d take Schwartz like many fans. However, knowing now what Schwartz signed for, we also know the Chiefs could have afforded him… but didn’t sign him. Why? Because the Chiefs personnel team knows something we don’t. Rishaw Johnson is good. Good enough to be given the Right Guard position… at least the chance to lose it in practice. Other wise, wouldn’t the Chiefs have taken some other action at the front of the Free Agency period?
Now, I will not be at all surprised if the Chiefs take a Guard in the draft. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs take a player from any position including QB in this draft. If they’re going to follow through with their vow to take the “best player available” then why should we be surprised if the do exactly that. With that said, if the Chiefs do take a Guard (or a Tackle who they convert to Guard… or take a Tackle who can play RT and move Stephenson inside) in this draft I would not be surprised at all if that choice is to replace Jeff Allen at Left Guard.
Strengths: When I evaluate Rishaw Johnson I see an offensive lineman with tremendous balance. Rishaw uses his hand well. He doesn’t have a great punch but he knows how to use leverage and holds his own when bull rushed. I often notice “RawJo” (what do you think of this nickname? … can’t call him “Johnson” and “Rishaw” won’t do and neither will RiJo, it sounds too much like a Rice-a-Roni treat), anyway… I often notice him sitting in his stance too high while every other lineman on the Chiefs line will have their back more nearly parallel to the ground. What it can mean is… he either is tipping his hand about whether or not it’s going to be a passing play, or he could be giving away leverage when shifting his body into running game mode. RawJo finishes plays and when he gets his man off balance he makes sure they end up on the ground. You gotta love that.
Weaknesses: RawJo doesn’t have an overly big or powerful physical presence. He often chips a defensive lineman and then looks like he doesn’t know where he’s supposed to go, or who he’s supposed to block next. Experience should take care of this but, Johnson will need more work on his run blocking than his pass protection… a plus for Alex Smith, not for JC. However, in the San Diego game Knile Davis had a very good day on the ground. Rishaw will need to learn to not hold on to the defensive lineman’s jersey too long or he’ll be called for holding. In comparison to Rovekious Watkins, who started at Left Guard in the San Diego game, RawJo is far ahead.
Rishaw Johnson reminds me a little bit of Brian Waters and a little bit of Justin Blalock of the Falcons. RawJo is about the same size as Waters and although neither has Superman’s physique, they both get results. Bottom line, that’s all that matters.
After watching the San Diego game through three-plus times, I’m very comfortable with naming Rishaw Johnson the starting Right Tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014.
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Following are a few screen captures from the Coaches angle at NFLNetwork.com Game Rewind of Rishaw Johnson’s performance in the San Diego game. Enjoy.
What do you think Addict fans? Should the Chiefs be trusting the Right Guard position to a virtual unknown? Or, do you even think that’s what they intend to do at all?