If Warren Sapp chases Brad Johnson down on the sidelines this year, as he used to do on the field, Johnson will have a ready answer for him
Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans knew their team had made a good catch on March 5. They're still learning how good.
Since Pro Bowl quarterback Brad Johnson joined the Buccaneers that Monday, impressive little facts about him have bubbled to the surface from time to time, little 'did-you-know' nuggets that we certainly did not know.
For instance, did you know he is the third most accurate passer in NFL history?
Did you know his career passer rating ranks as the sixth best in league annals?
Did you know his career winning percentage of .640 is fifth-best among active NFL quarterbacks (minimum 10 starts), trailing only Kurt Warner (.778), Doug Flutie (.682), Brett Favre (.645) and, by the smallest of margins, Steve McNair (.641)?
There is a lot, it seems, we do not know about Brad Johnson.
This week, Buccaneer fans tried to clear up some of the mystery through the Your Turn feature on Buccaneers.com. Using the interactive Your Turn series, fans have been able to send in questions to form the basis of interviews for such Buc notables as Rich McKay, Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin, Jerry Angelo, Marcus Jones, Donnie Abraham, John Lynch and many others.
On Tuesday, it was Johnson's chance to sit in the Your Turn seat and hear what Buccaneer fans want to know from him. From more than 1,600 questions submitted for Johnson over the course of nine days, 20 were chosen as a representative sample of the topics raised. Those 20 questions were posed to Johnson on Wednesday, in the fans' own words.
To see the video result of the first half of that interview, please click here. You will also find a full written transcript of the interview below.
Transcript: Your Turn with Brad Johnson, Part I, April 11, 2001
Moderator: Okay, it's Wednesday, April 11, 2001, just 10 short days before the 2001 NFL draft. Also here at One Buccaneer Place, we have very well-attended voluntary workouts going on out back. So, with the all the bustle of activity in the offices, we are particularly grateful that you could spend a little time with us for Buccaneers.com.
Brad Johnson: I appreciate it. Should be fun.
Moderator: Of course, this is Brad Johnson, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins, the Pro Bowl quarterback who signed with the Buccaneers early in March, kicking off what has been a very interesting offseason. All of our fans are very happy to have you aboard.
Brad Johnson: This is awesome. I didn't know what was going to happen in free agency, but of all the places I could have come, I'm coming back home and playing for a tremendous team and a team that I have had a lot of respect for. It's been a lot of fun playing against them so many years, and now I'm playing with them.
Duncan of Fairfax, Virginia: Coach Dungy says that even with a new offensive coordinator and your arrival, he doesn't see the team throwing a whole lot more. What are your feelings on being part of a team that likes to identify itself as 'run first?'
Brad Johnson: I knew what I was getting myself into coming to Tampa. Obviously, this is a team that prides itself on defense and great special teams, with a great kicker. Offensively, last year they had one of the best outputs in Tampa history, actually. I think where I come into play is, I'm a high-efficiency quarterback with a high completion percentage.
Hopefully, I can get them an extra one or two first downs during the course of a game, a little bit better percentage in the red zone. You're only talking about scoring one more field goal, one more touchdown in a game. I'm not sure how many times they actually threw it last year, but hopefully, if we play well enough, maybe we can increase the throws by four or five a game.
David Strachan of San Marcos, California: The pressure on yourself and the Buccaneers to deliver a championship has to be as big, if not bigger, than what you experienced last year in Washington. How is the feeling different this year and how is the atmosphere different at One Buc Place?
Brad Johnson: To win in this league, there's only one thing: you have to win the Super Bowl. That's the only expectation that you have. If you're not playing for that, then I don't know why you would actually play. Last year in Washington, yes, there were a lot of high expectations. I think a lot of that had to do with the ownership kind of talking about it and promoting a lot of different things besides football. But there were some great things done last year in Washington. We went through a course of five different kickers, some major injuries, especially on the offensive end, lost some close ballgames, and we didn't get it done.
Obviously, Tampa Bay's had a great run the last couple of years, playing in a (conference) championship game, making the playoffs the last two years. They've been very, very close. You have to spend the money, you have to make the moves in free agency. They've done that this year, and hopefully with myself on board and re-signing some of the free agents that they had, I think we've put ourselves in position to get where we want to go, and that's to win a Super Bowl.
Donte Lee of St.Perersburg, Florida: Why did you take the Buccaneers' offer insted of the Ravens' offer?
Brad Johnson: Baltimore was a great fit for me. Obviously, Elvis Grbac ended up signing there. There were four teams involved, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Tampa and Baltimore. Baltimore, playing with Brian Billick, who was my coordinator in seven years, would have been an easy transition for me. Both teams were tremendous teams, but it came down to what the structure of the contract was. I didn't feel like the structure was very good for me in Baltimore, or for the Baltimore Ravens. Tampa was a great fit, for the way the contract was structured.
And, this is a very young team. I'm the third oldest player on this team. You're looking about 40 guys right now under four years of league experience. We could have a great team here for the next few years.
Trey of Tampa, Florida: Hey Brad, it's nice to have you as a member of the Bucs. How would you compare your receivers in Washington to your receivers here in Tampa Bay?
Brad Johnson: It was kind of a neat experience in Washington. Obviously, in Minnesota, I was dealing with Cris Carter and Jake Reed, a little bit with Randy Moss. (In Washington,) I had some younger players in Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell. Two years ago, they led the league in yards per catch, 18 and 19 yards per catch. We always spread the ball around to a lot of different players ... Larry Centers catching over 70 balls two years in a row .. . Stephen Alexander, and also Stephen Davis.
What's different here is that you have a proven player in Keyshawn Johnson. You have a lot of speed with Jacquez Green. In this system, we spread the ball around to a lot of different guys, also, so you get involved with Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn out of the backfield. Those guys can make plays … and Dave Moore at tight end. Here, I think you're dealing with a little bit more experience and some guys that, as a whole, can make plays. This is an unbelievable fit for me and those receivers.
Eric Jones of Hendersonville, North Carolina: Do you feel that it is a must to get the running backs involved in the passing game for not only you but the offense to have a good year?
Brad Johnson: Definitely so. In this league, you have to have a running game. There's no doubt about that. Obviously, with Mike and Warrick, they've proven that they can run time and time again. Having an offensive line with these guys that they've signed back makes it that much more potent.
What's good for me is that I'm a play-action type quarterback, and I do spread the ball around to a lot of different players. With these guys, they're going to catch a lot of check-down screens and little dump-off passes where they don't just catch the ball and get two or three yards. Sometimes, as you saw last year, Warrick Dunn can catch a swing route and go for 50. That makes it a little bit more fun for me. I'm the type of quarterback that gets the ball to the backs and tight ends a little bit more.
Chris Nemoto of Yokota, Japan: It is mid season, fourth quarter, and defense is carrying the game. Your offense is not clicking and Warren Sapp has stopped you on the sideline to ask what you're going to do to get the offense going. What will you tell him to reassure him that you are going to get things going?
Brad Johnson: The thing about it is, you put in your work. It's a total team effort and sometimes the offense carries the defense and vice versa. You have to be very patient sometimes. You have to expect that things are not going to go your way every day. You stay focused and don't let the game get away from you. You keep making plays and give yourself a chance to win. When Warren and I have that conversation, I'll remind him of the times we played against him and I beat him.
Matt from Stillwater, Minnesota: My question is about your neck surgery a few years back. How long did it take you to rehab such an injury? I have recently had the c6, c7 discotomy which my surgeon says is very similar to the one you experienced. You are my inspiration to fully recover as I can see the pounding you take and it seems to have minimal effect.
Brad Johnson: Well, I definitely know what you're going through with your surgery. Mine was actually a c5 and c6 in my neck. I lost all the arm strength from my elbow down. I could barely hold a pencil. It took me a little over a year to get that hand strength back. More than rehab, it's the nerves going back. You have c6 and 7? I believe that's in the triceps area.
A friend of mine, Chris Weinke, who played at Florida State, went through the same surgery. He recovered a little bit quicker, and I think the biggest thing is, the first couple months after the surgery kind of relax and let your body heal itself. Then get back and do the rehab things and physical therapy, and your nerves will grow back and you will come back very strong. It's just a matter of being very patient and not trying to get out there and play golf too quick, or tennis. Just kind of let the rehab take care of itself. You will recover. I did and I feel great now. I have no problems with the strength in my hand or my neck.
Rance Kay of Ocala, Florida: I wanted to know if you are still obsessed with doing plyometrics and speed work like you were in school.
Brad Johnson: Growing up, I was a basketball player. I'd go running for five or six miles and jump rope for 45 minutes. I was kind of doing the wrong things, almost, for football. I needed a little bit more explosion, a little bit more aggressive type things. In college and in my first six or seven years in the pros, I did a lot of plyometrics and squats, that type of thing.
I think with my age now – I'm getting ready to turn 33 in September – I won't quite do as much plyometrics, the jumping, that I used to. But I still do a lot of speed work. I try to be aggressive with dead lifts, or maybe half squats instead of full squats, those types of things. But I definitely feel like there's a place for it, and there's no substitute for hard work. Make sure you're doing the right things and keep on doing them.
Jeff Hubner from Greenville,South Carolina: As a former Warhorse from Owen (High School), I'd first like to say congratulations on your career, with everything that you have endured and accomplished. My question is: With joining a new team there is obviously much to learn. How long will it be before you are actually comfortable with the new system? Realistically, will that occur this year?
Brad Johnson: Definitely, definitely. This is kind of a unique experience for me, I've almost gone through this twice. I have a very good understanding of concepts and plays, where guys should be in certain routes, and just the feel for the game. I think what's different is sometimes the terminology is like converting English to Spanish to French.
Going through this once, going from Minnesota to Washington, there the number systems and plays were very similar. Here, we use a lot of code names, so there's a little bit of a difference between the protections and names of certain pass plays. I think it does take a full two or three years to have a great understanding … people talk about how smart Joe Montana was. He was in the system for 17 years – he should be pretty smart after 17 years!
I've gone through this before, I know what takes place. By the first of the season, I'll be very strong and have a good understanding of the system. I do think that the more rep certain plays, you call it and here it and work it, the better you'll be.
Brian Motley of Tampa, Florida: Brad, do you think there will ever be another dynasty like the Steelers or Cowboys, one that dominates for a lengthy period of time, now that we have the free agency?
Brad Johnson: It's hard to say. It all depends on how well management does with the salary cap. There's two parts to the game. One is the organization working the salary cap and two is the players in free agency. I don't know if you'll ever have a dynasty where you try to win three or four Super Bowls in a row. It's very tough to do that even when you have the same players coming back. There's that much competition, and it would be hard to say if that would ever happen.
Now, you're looking at some teams being able to repeat a Super Bowl. That can happen, but the third year, fourth year, that would be kind of tough.
Bill Hoffmeier of Daytona Beach, Florida: Do other teams require the offseason effort that seems to be required at One Buc Place? Also, do you have an established offseason routine?
Brad Johnson: What they accomplish down here in the offseason is unbelievable. They have over, probably, 50 guys here in the offseason working out three, four days a week. A lot of that has to do with the weather here in Tampa, guys wanting to live in Tampa. In Minnesota, guys kind of got away (in the offseason). Obviously, they've had some great success there, going to two championships, two out of the last three years, but there's been some great success here, too.
What's neat about this is that you have so many young players working. Sometimes, there's bad work habits coming out of college and your first couple of years in the pros. Here, you can make that foundation. This is an unbelievable place to live and play.
(NOTE: Check back on Buccaneers.com in the coming days for the second part of Johnson's Your Turn interview.)