Derrick Johnson is an extremely valuable defender for the Kansas City Chiefs. If you think that he can be more easily replaced look no further than this 90-yard run by Latavius Murray that led to a shocking Chief’s loss and one win away from making the playoffs in 2014. Johnson prides himself on being an amazing run stopper with a patented submarine move that brings down even the best of running backs. In this play, Johnson’s primary replacement Josh Mauga hesitates to commit to the play and when he does he gets sucked too far in play side and leaves a wide open cut back lane for Murray to storm on through.
In 2015, Johnson made the plays needed to keep guys out of the endzone and keep the Chiefs winning games. He had particularly good games against Buffalo in the regular season and Houston in the playoffs and while he is getting long in the tooth, there is no one on the roster that can come close to what he brings to the table. Since 2010 Johnson has had only one season where he recorded less than 100 tackles. During that time he also racked up 4 Pro Bowls and two All Pro selections becoming a top linebacker in game.
Should Johnson have another season ending injury, the player to step in would be Ramik Wilson who may not do a terrible job. Wilson has shown that he has plenty of ability reading and reacting to the play. What he lacks may only need experience to build as he would be playing behind one of the better defensive lines in the league. The problem would lie in Mauga being the guy responsible for getting everyone lined up. Mauga is a good linebacker with a real eye for timely interceptions but the defense suffers when he is left in charge.
Next: Ron Parker