Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Plan of Attack

WR Keyshawn Johnson has a philosophy on how defenses should be attacked in the NFL


WR Keyshawn Johnson has attacked defenses well in recent weeks, snaring 17 receptions in the last three games

Since it didn't conclude until about 1:30 in the morning, there's a good chance you didn't see the conclusion of the Miami Dolphins-New York Jets Monday Night Football game this week. Of course, you've surely heard the results since, as the Jets pulled off one of the most thrilling comeback victories in recent memory.

That game has even had an impact in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room. In speaking to his team on Wednesday, Head Coach Tony Dungy used the Jets' comeback as an illustration of how quickly things can turn around in the NFL.

It was a message well received by the Buccaneers, but at least one player in the locker room took another lesson from the Jets' late blitz of the Dolphins. WR Keyshawn Johnson believes the Jets were able to score 30 points in the fourth quarter because they relentlessly attacked the Dolphins' weakness.

"My philosophy on offense is that you attack the personnel, not the system," said Johnson. "You go over the weakest link."

What Johnson saw early Tuesday morning was a Jet passing attack that forced the Dolphins into nickel and dime packages and then repeatedly threw at Miami's less accomplished defensive back, Jerry Wilson.

"You have to find that guy they put on the field that can't play," said Johnson, "and bury him. If you don't think there defensive end can stop the sweep, then keep running the sweep at him until he proves you wrong."

Johnson leads the Buccaneers in receptions through seven games with 32 and has had at least five catches in each of Tampa Bay's last three games. He racked up five receptions for 71 yards against Minnesota two games ago, and his fellow starter, Jacquez Green, had 11 grabs for 131 yards. It appears as if the Bucs may have found a weakness in the Vikings' defense on that night, though Johnson didn't elaborate.

It was almost certainly not safety Robert Griffith, however. Johnson considers Griffith one of the top strong safeties in the game and knows the Buc offense will have to pay special attention to jersey number 24.

"You've got to block him," said Johnson. "If you don't, he's going to be an all-world strong safety. He has been all-world this year, so I guess nobody's blocking him. Even when you block him, you have to really block him, not just run into him. He's one of those guys on defense that you have to account for."

Still the Bucs were able to rack up 295 passing yards against Griffith and his mates in the first Bucs-Vikings meeting. QB Shaun King distributed the ball well that night and seems to have a growing rapport with both Johnson and Green. Some of that may have to do with a pregame ritual that Johnson has brought down from New York.

If you're attending the game on Sunday, expect Johnson to be one of the first players you see on the field for pregame warmups. The fifth-year wideout is generally at the park well before most of his teammates. When King arrives, he joins Johnson for some personal work, going over the game plan.

"That's something that Todd Haley, my position coach with the Jets, got me started on," said Johnson. "We go over routes and it allows the quarterback and receiver to get on the same page and know what adjustments we can make."

And how to go after the weak link.

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