Chargers: Savvy route runner Johnson signs on

| 2 years ago

Chargers: Savvy route runner Johnson signs on

PFF-headlinesThe San Diego Chargers lost a relatively productive receiver when Eddie Royal signed with the Chicago Bears, but they may have found an upgrade with his replacement, ex-San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. Johnson is one of the most unique route runners in the game, as discussed by Sam Monson in the Analysis Notebook here and here.

Johnson was traded to the 49ers prior to the 2014 season, yet the team seemed unsure how to use him. He played just 305 snaps all season as he shared the number three receiver role with Brandon Lloyd. However, despite the low snap count, Johnson still excelled in his role finishing the season with a +6.6 receiving grade. That was the 17th best receiving grade posted in 2014, and every player above Johnson saw at least double his playing time.

As a group, the San Diego Chargers receivers failed to star in 2014, struggling to truly kick on from the year before. Keenan Allen in particular appeared to suffer a sophomore slump, having looked like one of the best young receivers in the league as a rookie. In 2013 Allen finished 13th among wide receivers with 2.06 Yards Per Route Run (YPRR), however in 2014, none of the teams featured wide receivers (Allen, Royal and Malcom Floyd) exceeded 1.60 YPRR. Johnson on the other hand ranked 16th with 2.13 YPRR.

Teaming up with Philip Rivers pairs Johnson with the best quarterback he has ever had. So long as Johnson and Rivers are quick to get on the same page, Johnson’s unique and weird route running should become a strength for the Chargers.


  • Baffled

    “Johnson is one of the most unique route runners in the game”

    ? Does he make up his own unique routes that no one else runs?

    • Tim

      Why don’t you click on the links and find out for yourself instead of looking like a jackass.

      • Baffled

        I did. I saw nothing that would qualify as “most unique” (shudder) or even “unique”. Rare, yes. Good, yes. But his routes and his moves are not limited to himself, which is what “unique” means. It would be better to say something like “he’s a talented route runner who makes use of effective separation moves”.

        • Mark Mccollough

          A a Bills fan I watched him play a lot, and can honestly say I haven’t seen any other WR run routes quite like him, so I think the “One of the most unique” tag is fair. That’s why they say “One of” and not “the only one”. They are not saying he is unique alone, but referencing a subset of players that collectively would qualify as unique.

          Capturing the whole picture in an article is tougher job than watching a couple thousand routes run over his time with the Bills. Revis even had a tough time with him twice a year because of his odd route running style that made is difficult to tell when and where he would break in his route. They are small nuances that become much more pronounces watching a much larger sample of plays. Granted its not as if he’s doing cart wheels to get open, so I see your point to an extent, but I also see the point of the original post and the other previous posts it references.

          But his route running was also a double edged sword, since it made it much tougher on the QB to get him the ball in certain situations because he didn’t get to where he was supposed to be in a normal fashion leading to miss communication and turnovers at times.

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  • Dave

    Way underrated wr. 49ers could screw up Megatron. I am glad for him. Hopefully Rivers isn’t traded.