The Buffalo Bills continue to show they can scout talent among defensive backs, selecting Taron Johnson in the 2018 NFL Draft. A fourth round pick, Johnson showed enough in the preseason to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster. Through five games, Johnson is making some noise as the starting slot corner. Let’s see how he did against the Tennessee Titans.
The clip arguably oversimplifies things about the significance of Taron Johnson shadowing the slot receiver. Often the motion receiver is used to determine if the defense will be using man or zone concepts. With Johnson mirroring this receiver a casual glance would indeed suggest he’s in man coverage. Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier rely heavily on zone work and naturally that’s what this ends up being. For Johnson’s part, despite switching which side of the field he’s on, he understands where his zone ends and passes off his initial receiver well and engages his second target successfully. A lot of moving parts go into a play such as this and the rookie proves he’s ready for it.
Taron Johnson keeps his eyes on Marcus Mariota to read the play. Johnson doesn’t even let the ball leave Mariota’s hand before he’s correctly read the play and begins moving. From a scheme vs. scheme standpoint it would have been difficult to stop the play cold, but Taron Johnson does a great job limiting the yards after catch.
Taron Johnson ends up covering
Corey Davis Davis Williams tries to find an opening, but Johnson is like glue. A good jam disrupts the initial timing and Williams can’t find a way to escape.
Taron Johnson made his first career interception on this play. Johnson is in good position to watch Mariota and once again diagnoses the play right away. It’s subtle, but in the first angle, Johnson is leaning forward indicating he’s driving toward the ball rather than continue moving laterally with the coverage. The ball seems way ahead of the receiver and the interception is a result of poor ball placement from Mariota. However, it’s Johnson’s initial drive forward that cuts off the receiver’s route, making Johnson the only player able to make the catch.
If you were to distill the phrase “trust the process” and turn it into a play, this might be it. Before the play even begins the Titans have three receivers to be covered by Taron Johnson and Tre’Davious White. Johnson happens to get the double team but shows good discipline and trust in his team during his backpedal. As a result, both Titans are passed off to the the back end.
There’ll be some growing pains for Johnson, and this week’s could have cost Buffalo the victory. All is well initially on this play as Johnson and Tremaine Edmunds are both in position to prevent Nick Williams from making a catch. Both bite on a secondary target for just a step and Williams runs right by Johnson. One wrong step may have been the ballgame. Instead, Nick Williams dropped the touchdown and the Bills improve to 2-3.